Campaigners prepare to launch new four-day working week pilot

Joe Ryle, director of the 4 Day Week Campaign, said he hoped that Labour would be more receptive to new ways of working

Joe Middleton
Wednesday 10 July 2024 09:50
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The pilot will report its findings to the government in the summer next year
The pilot will report its findings to the government in the summer next year (PA Archive)

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Campaigners are preparing to launch a fresh pilot for a four-day working week in the hope that the new Labour government will be more open-minded to ways of flexible working.

The scheme is being run by the UK’s 4 Day Week Campaign with flexible working consultancy Timewise and companies interested in the project can sign up for a start in November.

The pilot - which will also look at other flexible working policies such as compressed hours and a shorter working week - will report its findings to the government in the summer next year.

Campaigners are preparing to launch a fresh pilot for a four-day working week
Campaigners are preparing to launch a fresh pilot for a four-day working week (Getty Images)

Joe Ryle, director of the 4 Day Week Campaign, told The Guardian: “With a new Labour government, change is in the air and we hope to see employers embracing this change by signing up to our pilot.”

The group argues that a five-day working week is outdated and no longer fit for purpose.

New methods of flexible working have been gaining momentum since the Covid-19 pandemic when large sections of the population were forced to work from home.

The enforced break from office working has led some people to re-evaluate how many hours they want to spend in the office and where they want to work from.

In the first pilot run by the 4 Day Week Campaign two years ago, 61 companies took part and 54 had kept the changes a year and a half later. Similar schemes have run in Germany, Portugal and Spain.

Liberal Democrat-run South Cambridgeshire District Council also ran a four-day working week pilot, much to the ire of the previous Conservative government.

A report on progress since the start of the trial in January presented to the council’s employment and staffing committee showed the number of agency staff covering vacancies had reduced from 23 to nine, providing a projected saving of £776,000.

Staff turnover reduced by 36 per cent and sickness rates fell by 33 per cent, while significant improvements were reported in the mental and physical health of employees.

Complaints to the council fell by 2.5 per cent and there was no worsening in the performance of any council service, the report said.

After the trial was extended to waste services in September, bin collection rates have hit or exceeded a target of 99.70 per cent across nearly 130,000 in south Cambridgeshire and Cambridge.

The Conservative government were openly hostile to the idea of compressed hours or a shortened working week.

Previous local government minister Lee Rowley wrote the the council to ask that you “end your experiment immediately” and said he had concerns about the “value for money” for taxpayers.

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