Agenda item

Opposition Business

The following item of Opposition Business has been submitted:


North Norfolk District Council position on a 4-day working week


Proposed by Cllr C Cushing, seconded by Cllr N Dixon


The Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities (DLUHC) has issued guidance for local authorities in England who are considering adopting a 4-day working week – where staff have their working hours reduced by 20% but retain 100% of their pay (or equivalent/similar). This states that:


·         The government does not support a 4-day working week in local authorities, as it does not believe that it delivers local taxpayers’ value for money.

·         The government does not expect councils to adopt this arrangement.

·         Should councils disregard this advice and there is evidence of service decline or failure, DLUHC or another government department may raise concerns directly with the authority, monitor performance more closely and consider options to correct declining performance.

The government supports an individual’s right to request flexible working, which allows employees to apply for changes to the hours, timing, or location of work. This is clearly different as it relates to the right of an individual employee to request a different working pattern or place of work. This guidance does not seek to relate to the latter.


Local authorities must be mindful of the Duty of Best Value when it considers provision. This is a statutory requirement for councils ‘to secure continuous improvement in the way in which its functions are exercised, having regard to a combination of economy, efficiency and effectiveness.’ In practice this extends to securing value for money in all spending decisions. It is the government’s view that the implementation of the 4-day week is unlikely to demonstrate adherence to the Best Value Duty. Neither, for clarity, does the government support trials, experimentation, or pilots (or equivalent) of the 4-day working week concept within the local government sector.


The 4-day working week is an organisation-wide approach to pay and working hours. NNDC staff have a well-deserved reputation for striving hard to deliver the services that the council provides to the public. We are regularly told that these services are stretched. The adoption would exacerbate staff stress levels by having to cram into 4 days the work that it would normally take them 5 days to do.


Given that the narrative around council services is that they are already hard-pressed, it is unlikely that reducing the working hours by 20% will be popular with North Norfolk Council Tax taxpayers, especially at a time when Council Tax is raised by the maximum each year.


Full Council resolves to:

·         Recognise and respect the Government’s Guidance of a 4-day working week.

·         Prior to any consideration of any form of trial or pilot exercise of a 4-day working week it collects and assesses the evidence of such trials conducted by other Councils, elsewhere, to inform an outline business case to justify it. 

·         Commits not to introduce a 4-day working week at North Norfolk District Council without an overwhelming detailed business case showing substantial benefits to North Norfolk residents and businesses and a concession from central Government supporting the case.