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First ever council trial of four-day week hailed a success

The first ever council trial of a four-day-week has been hailed as a success, with average employee performance improving.

South Cambridgeshire District Council trialled a four-day week for desk-based staff for three months, beginning in January of this year.

Staff could take either Monday or Friday off, and their pay was not affected.

According to the Bennett Institute for Public Policy based at the University of Cambridge, which analysed the results, performance improved overall – with significant improvement in some areas.

As a result, an extension of the trial for a further year has been recommended to the council’s leadership, as well as a three-month trial for staff in the facilities management team and shared waste services.

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The further trials will go to a vote at the next full council meeting on May 15.

Nina Jorden, research associate at the Bennett Institute for Public Policy, said that “not a single KPI fell to a concerning level” during the trial.

“Performing four different types of rigorous data analysis, nine out of 16 performance measurements showed a significant improvement during the four-day week trial compared to the same period last year, and this is despite some targets being raised internally,” she said.

“Overall, we saw an improvement on average across performance measurements during the four-day week. It is important to emphasise that not a single KPI fell to a concerning level during the trial.”

Joe Ryle, director of the 4 Day Week Campaign, said the trial “paves the way” for other councils to follow South Cambridgeshire’s lead.

“South Cambridgeshire’s historic trial has been an undeniable success and it paves the way for other councils across the country to follow their lead,” he said.

“All workers in this country deserve a four-day week and so it’s only fair that public sector workers benefit too.

“The evidence shows that a four-day week with no loss of pay improves productivity and is a win-win for both workers and employers.”