Plans are in place for the Scottish government to stage trials of four-day working weeks to establish whether the policy might have positive benefits for individuals and for the wider economy.
Research by IPPR Scotland suggests that people in Scotland would overwhelmingly support a shift to working four days a week if it meant no reduction in their wages.
The thinktank’s figures show that around 80 per cent of Scots feel a shortened working week would be good for their wellbeing, while 65 per cent said a switch to working fewer hours would boost Scotland’s overall productivity.
A spokesperson for the Scottish government has explained that plans for a four-day week trial are “in the early stages” but are being pursued, with the aim being to assess the potential benefits and costs of making shorter working weeks the norm across the economy.
IPPR Scotland has welcomed the plans for a pilot scheme but said it should be expanded to incorporate more different types of employees and workplaces, including people who work shifts or who don’t work in traditional offices.
“We must examine what shorter working time looks like from the perspective of shift workers, those working excessive hours to make ends meet, or those who currently have fewer hours than they would like to have,” said Rachel Statham, a senior research fellow at IPPR Scotland.
The Scottish government has explained that the impacts of the Covid pandemic on ways of working contributed to its decision to consider more carefully issues around flexible working, four-day weeks, worker wellbeing and productivity.
A sum of £10 million has initially been allocated to back the four-day week pilot scheme, which it is hoped could go some way to demonstrating that the Scottish economy can support more and better jobs in the coming years.
Roz Foyer, general secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress (TUC), has backed plans for a trial of four day-week policies and supported IPPR Scotland’s suggestion that the pilot should include as many different types of work as possible.
“A four-day week should be for everyone, and research into it should take into account workers other than nine-to-five office workers,” she said.
“If Scotland is serious about creating a wellbeing economy, then a four-day week is a key way to make progress towards it,” she added.
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