Councils have been urged to swerve introducing four-day work week schemes in a bid to dodge “part-time town halls”.
Campaigners at the Taxpayers Alliance (TPA) have written to every council leader in the UK asking them to pledge not to bring in a four-day work week.
Many City firms have been accused of a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (TWaT) office culture, with some now instituting policies telling employees to get back to their desks.
Last week, Amazon chief executive Andy Jassy told workers “it’s probably not going to work out for [them]” if they don’t accept the company’s three-days-in-the-office mandate.
Dubbed ‘Stop the Clock Off’, the campaign comes after a row over staff at Lib Dem-run South Cambridgeshire District Council cutting their hours by 20 per cent for the same pay.
Ministers intervened in a bid to force the organisation to end the four-day week trial, citing worries over value for money.
Now the TPA has expanded its efforts nationwide, after warnings artificial intelligence (AI) programs like ChatGPT could lead to four-day weeks and “French-style working practices”.
John O’Connell, TPA chief executive, said: “Residents are rightly worried that a part-time council could be coming to their town hall. As we’ve seen elsewhere, this experiment leads to poorer services, with taxpayers picking up the tab.”
Research by the TPA has indicated a four-day week could cost £30bn a year in lost working time, and the group has refuted the claim it could increase productivity by 25 per cent.
O’Connell added: “We hope council leaders will show their commitment to delivering value for money for ratepayers by signing our pledge.”
The ‘Stop the Clock Off’ campaign states: “While Brits contend with a 70-year high tax burden, public bodies are moving towards a fully paid four-day working week.
“That’s roughly equivalent to an extra 52 days of annual leave. This is simply unacceptable at a time when taxpayers are already paying over the odds for services that, in many cases, are barely functioning.”
Joe Ryle, director of the 4 Day Week Campaign, hit back claiming: “No one should trust the Taxpayers Alliance. A four-day week with no loss of pay has been shown to improve productivity and the first ever council trial was so successful that it has been extended by a year and expanded to more services.
“Local councils are desperately struggling with job recruitment and retention and a four-day working week could be the answer.”
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has been contacted for comment.