UK tells local authorities in England to stop four-day week trials

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain on Thursday told local government councils in England to end any trials of a four-day working week for their employees, saying the idea does not offer taxpayers good value for money.

The scheme, where staff have their working hours cut by 20% while keeping their existing salary, has been adopted by some businesses which argue it improves work-life balance without damaging productivity.

“The government is being crystal clear that it does not support the adoption of the four-day working week within the local government sector,” Britain’s minister for local government Lee Rowley said in a statement.

“Local authorities that are considering adopting it should not do so. Those who have adopted it already should end those practice immediately.”

The government said it supported the right of individual employees to request flexible working, such as changes to their hours or location of work, but “removing 20% of a local authority’s potential capacity does not offer value for money for residents”.

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Sachin Ravikumar)