Labour MP demands public sector workers receive a four-day week
Labour MP demands public sector workers receive a four-day week and claims it will improve staff retention as well as reduce sick days and mistakes
- Nadine Whittome claimed the move would improve staff retention
A Labour MP has called for a four-day working week to be introduced across the public sector.
Nadia Whittome argued that she would rather be operated on by a ‘well-rested’ doctor who had enjoyed a three-day weekend.
She claimed the radical move would improve staff retention as well as reduce sick days and mistakes – but would mean employing more staff.
Her demand is not official Labour policy, after Sir Keir Starmer dropped a Corbyn-era call for the average working week to be cut to 32 hours with no loss of pay.
But major trade unions including the PCS which represents civil servants are calling for a four-day week.
Nadia Whittome (pictured) argued that she would rather be operated on by a ‘well-rested’ doctor who had enjoyed a three-day weekend
Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner has called for a ‘right to switch off’ that would ban bosses from contacting staff out of working hours.
The party’s election manifesto will also include making flexible working the default, which for desk-based staff would give them the right to work from home.
And it comes as the first town hall to try the four-day week prepares to press on with the experiment for another year despite concerns about the service received by taxpayers.
Lib Dem-run South Cambridgeshire District Council’s cabinet will meet today to approve the continuation of the trial for all desk-based staff as well as extending it to cover caretakers and binmen.
In an article for a website called LeftLion based in her Nottingham East constituency, backbench Labour MP Ms Whittome pointed out that this May has brought three bank holidays – and so four-day weeks for many workers.
She wrote: ‘Imagine what you would do if you had an extra day off every week of the year, without losing any pay.’
Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner (pictured) has called for a ‘right to switch off’ that would ban bosses from contacting staff out of working hours
The possibilities were endless, she said, from spending more time with friends and family to enjoying more art and culture or ‘catch up on sleep’. She cited a recent six-month trial by 61 companies that found revenue increased along with staff wellbeing when they tried out the four-day week.
Ms Whittome admitted the change could not happen overnight and that in some workplaces it would require a ‘creative approach’ involving automating tasks.
‘In others, including many public services, it would be necessary to create more jobs,’ she acknowledged.
‘In turn, it could improve staff retention, reduce the number of sick days, and lower the risk of dangerous mistakes. I know I’d rather be operated on by a well-rested doctor than an exhausted one.’
She added: ‘Despite any challenges it may pose, the case for a four-day week is too strong to be dismissed.
‘After all, there’s so much more to life than work, and we’d all be better off in a society that recognises this.’
But last night Elliot Keck, investigations campaign manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, warned: ‘Taxpayers are rightly sceptical about the four-day working week.
‘While the private sector is entitled to experiment, Brits worry this will be used to justify a part-time government. The public sector’s focus should be on delivering high quality services at value for the taxpayer.’
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