South Cambridgeshire District Council to trial four-day week

South Cambridgeshire District Council has committed to trial a four-day working week for its 470 desk-based staff, as of January 2023.

The council will undertake planning for the three-month trial from October, with staff pay rate set to remain the same. If the pilot is successful, it said it will consider expanding it to involve bin crews later next year.

In order to monitor service levels throughout the three months, the council will use its standard performance metrics, which look at how long it takes to process benefits claims and council house rent collections, how fast planning applications are determined for Cambridge residents, staff turnover, and call answering times.

It will use also surveys to check on employees’ health and wellbeing throughout, with its employment and staffing committee set to receive regular update reports.

According to the council, it will explore whether it can extend its opening hours to the public via telephone, a soon-to-be-launched webchat service and Teams and Zoom meetings as part of the trial, and whether a four-day week would help to attract prospective employees with caring responsibilities. A longer trial period would be dependent on the performance of council and shared services during the first three months of 2023.

Councillor Bridget Smith, leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “First of all, this must be a trial that works for our residents and businesses, as well as the council. This is why we now have a three-month period to carefully plan and prepare. This is all about seeing whether the benefits on productivity, staff wellbeing and recruitment can be seen in local government as demonstrated in the private sector.

“Additionally, we think that this will help us attract a more diverse workforce. If we can help reduce the financial burden of caring and childcare costs, I believe we will open ourselves up as an employer to more people and in turn help them deal with the rising cost of living.”