Local authorities should immediately stop four-day working week trials and rule out adopting the practice in future, according to new government guidance.

The publication comes after letters from Minister for Local Government Lee Rowley to South Cambridgeshire District Council, calling on the local authority to cease its trial over value for money concerns.

The government believes that removing 20% of a local authority’s potential capacity doesn’t offer value for money for residents.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) is also exploring measures to ensure the sector is clear that the policy shouldn’t be pursued.

Rowley said: “The government is being crystal clear that it does not support the adoption of the four-day working week within the local government sector. 

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

“Those councils who continue to disregard this guidance are now on notice that the Government will take necessary steps in the coming months ahead to ensure that this practice is ended within local government.”

The guidance says:

“Councils which are undertaking four-day working week activities should cease immediately and others should not seek to pursue in any format. Value for local taxpayers is paramount and no further focus should be given by local authorities on this matter. The department is also exploring other measures to ensure that the sector is clear that this working practice should not be pursued.”

The government says it continues to support an individual’s right to request flexible working, which allows individual employees to apply for changes to the hours, timing, or location of work – which, it says, is clearly different to a blanket four-day working week on a full salary, across the whole organisation.