City Hall has indicated it will press on with plans to 'explore' the introduction of a four-day week for its staff, amid a growing backlash against the idea.

Norwich City Council voted unanimously to investigate whether it should bring in the arrangement, which would see employees reduce their working hours but remain on full pay.

But the idea has drawn criticism from members of the public, as well as the secretary of state, Michael Gove.

Opponents have questioned whether it would represent good value for taxpayers' money and raised concerns that the level of service offered by the authority would decline.

But a spokesman for Labour-run City Hall said it was undeterred and would continue its plans to investigate the option.

Norwich Evening News: Norwich City CouncilNorwich City Council (Image: George Thompson)

The proposal was put forward in an unopposed motion to the council at a meeting last week. 

The motion resolved to “explore the benefits” of such a move “if based on evidence that this would ensure the performance and value of residents’ services were improved”.

A city council spokesman said: “The city council has not made any plans to adopt a four-day working week for colleagues. Anything that suggests otherwise is simply not true. 
“The facts behind what happened at the council meeting last week are really clear and very simple – we agreed that we would look into the potential benefits of this type of working arrangement.”  

Several companies across the UK have been trialling four-day weeks - which see workers receive the same pay but work for one day fewer each week - including a fish and chip shop in Wells-next-the-Sea.

Many companies that took part in the trial said it led to improvements, such as staff retention, and decided to keep the measure in place.

However, it has been more controversially trialled by South Cambridgeshire District Council (SCDC). 

The authority came under scrutiny after it emerged its chief executive, Liz Watts, was writing about four-day weeks for her PhD but had not declared it as an interest.

The Tory opposition group also accused officials of having "artificially improved" the results of a report into the scheme, although officers insisted that changes had only been made to clear up confusing language.

SCDC has said the scheme has helped the council stay competitive, as an employer, and reduce costs by helping retain staff rather than rely on agency workers.

Earlier this year it was revealed Norwich City Council had spent 2.4m on agency staff in the first six months of the year.

But after City Hall agreed to look into the arrangement, Michael Gove, the secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities, criticised the idea and vowed to bring in changes to stop councils from introducing the arrangement. Norwich Evening News:

READ MORE: 'This is the worst time to do it': Norwich folk on council talks about four-day weeks

He said: “People who pay council tax work five days a week or longer.

“They deserve 100pc of the service, not 80pc. The idea that everyone should be slacking in this way at the expense of hard-working taxpayers is completely wrong."

His comments sparked a rift in the Tory party, however, with David Simmonds, Conservative MP for Ruislip, saying ministers should not intervene in council staffing arrangements.

“The cutting edge of British and international industry is moving towards four-day weeks," he said.

“And they say they can do that profitably and do that while delivering high-quality public services.” 

He argued that councillors were elected to make decision like exploring reduced working hours.

Meanwhile, Labour MP for Norwich South, Clive Lewis, has thrown his support behind the idea, calling it "an absolute no-brainer".