In a survey up to 88.5% of the staff in favour of continuing the trial

UK Council Sees Success with Four-Day Work Experiment

The South Cambridgeshire council, the first UK council to adopt a four-day working week trial, is likely to extend the experiment following an "overwhelmingly positive" impact on staff health and wellbeing without affecting performance.

Approximately 450 employees, primarily with desk-based roles, took part in the three-month pilot initiated in January. The trial allowed participants to choose either Monday or Friday as their day off and maintain their pay, while working more productively in the remaining days.

Documents prepared for the council's employment and staffing committee, which is scheduled to meet on 2 May, propose extending the trial for an additional 12 months. They also recommend that refuse collection workers be included in a separate, three-month pilot of the four-day working week. Council leader Bridget Smith expressed satisfaction with the trial's results, stating that the additional day off each week should be viewed as a "gift" for working smarter and more intensely.

An informal survey among staff members revealed that many reserved their extra day off for family time or leisure activities that they could not previously enjoy. With 88.5% of the staff in favour of continuing the trial, it appeared to be particularly beneficial for women and older employees. According to an independent analysis by the University of Cambridge's Bennett Institute, the council's performance during the trial remained within normal levels compared to historical averages.

Joe Ryle, director of the 4 Day Week Campaign, praised South Cambridgeshire's trial as a "historic" success and encouraged other councils to follow suit. However, younger and part-time workers reported mixed experiences. Despite initial difficulties, the council anticipates that long-term implementation of the new working pattern may result in cost savings by improving recruitment and retention, reducing the need for expensive agency staff.

The council is considering extending the trial to waste services, which would require approval from the neighbouring Cambridge city council. A final decision on the pilot's extension is expected to be made by the council's cabinet on 15 May.

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