Four-day week Scotland: Are the Scottish Government considering a shorter working week and would it mean a cut in wages?

A prominent think tank has recommended more pilots to introduce a four day working week – so will Scots be enjoying extended weekends soon?

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) have called on the Scottish Government to expand its commitment to four-day working week pilots, particularly in the health care and hospitality industries.

It follows a survey from the think tank that found that 80 per cent of workers would support a four-day week, with the same proportion saying it would improve their wellbeing.

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And 88 per cent of respondents said they would be willing to participate in a four-day week trial.

Meanwhile, a separate survey found that 9 out of 10 Scottish Government’s own employees supported the move.

So, could a four day week really be introduced in Scotland?

Where did the idea come from?

The SNP announced plans to support businesses in Scotland to trial a four-day as part of the party’s manifesto in April this year.

Could the traditional five day working week soon be a thing of the past in Scotland?Could the traditional five day working week soon be a thing of the past in Scotland?
Could the traditional five day working week soon be a thing of the past in Scotland?

The manifesto stated: “We will use the learning from this to consider a more general shift to a four-day working week as and when Scotland gains full control of employment rights.

“We will also identify additional employment opportunities and assess the economic impact of moving to a four-day week.

“More widely, we will support a review - in partnership with trade unions and businesses - of how working practices could and should be adapted to meet the needs of the future economy.”

The SNP have now pledged a £10 million fund for companies trialling a four-day week.

Has it been tested before in Scotland?

A number of firms have already moved to a four-day working week with some success.

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Glasgow based packaging firm UPAC Group recently announced that a trial period had been so successful that all employees would be moved to a four-day week.

Earlier this year, Edinburgh based building contracters Orocco announced a similar move earlier this year following a consultation with employees.

And MasterChef star Dean Banks is to trial a four-day working week in top Edinburgh restaurant Pompadour, in the capital’s five-star Caledonian Hotel.

What about other countries?

In New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was arguing for a four-day week pre-Covid saying that more leisure time would boost the country’s tourism sector.

Monitoring by an Auckland university found that productivity increased by 20 per cent during a trial.

Iceland started their programme to cut the working week six years ago, with 86 per cent of the working poulation now working 4.5-day weeks.

Meanwhile Japan is looking at reducing hours to tackle chronic over-work and an unhealthy culture of long hours.

And Spain recently became the first country to launch a national pilot on reduced weekly work, with around 200 companies pledging to intorduce a 32-hour week.

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Would it mean a reduced salary?

No - under the plans employees would be paid the same for working one less day.

The theory is that employees will enjoy greater wellbeing, meaning higher productivity and less sick days.

The survey by the IPPR suggested that 65 per cent of workers think a shorter working week would make them more productive.

What do the Scottish Government say?

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The pandemic has served to intensify interest in and support for more flexible working practices, which could include a shift to a four-day working week.

“Reductions in the working week might help sustain more and better jobs, and enhance wellbeing.

“We are in the early stages of designing a £10 million pilot that will help companies explore the benefits and costs of moving to a four-day working week. The pilot will allow us to develop a better understanding of the implications of a broader shift to a shorter working week across the economy.”

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