Scotland is trialling a four-day work week without a pay cut

·2-min read
Photo credit: Oscar Wong - Getty Images
Photo credit: Oscar Wong - Getty Images

Everyone loves the feeling of a bank holiday Monday elongating their weekend, or cashing in a day of annual leave to enjoy a Friday off work, and for people in Scotland, the wellbeing boost that comes with a four-day working week could become the norm.

That's because the Scottish Government has pledged £10million to help companies trial four-day weeks, without a decrease in pay for employees.

A spokesperson for the Government in Holyrood 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," adding that "reductions in the working week might help sustain more and better jobs, and enhance wellbeing."

Ministers 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. They say the pilot will allow them to develop a "better understanding of the implications of a broader shift to a shorter working week across the economy."

Unsurprisingly, the news has been welcomed with open arms by people in Scotland. Research for the think tank IPPR Scotland found 80% of people believed that cutting their number of days at work, with no loss of pay, would have a "positive effect on their wellbeing."

The survey, of 2,303 people aged between 16 and 65, also found that almost two-thirds (65%) believe a shorter working week could boost Scotland's productivity.

Photo credit: F.J. Jimenez - Getty Images
Photo credit: F.J. Jimenez - Getty Images

As well as sharing the research, IPPR Scotland is calling on the Scottish Government to expand trial schemes to include more job sectors, including people working in non-office-based jobs, those who do shift work and part-time employees.

Rachel Statham, senior research fellow at IPPR Scotland, said: "The Scottish Government is right to be trialling a four-day working week because today's evidence shows that it is a policy with overwhelming public support, and could be a positive step towards building an economy hardwired for wellbeing.

"But any successful transition post-Covid-19 must include all kinds of workplaces, and all types of work. The full-time, nine-to-five office job is not how many people across Scotland work - and shorter working time trials need to reflect that reality."

Scotland joins other countries like New Zealand, Iceland and Japan in exploring how to create a better sense of overall wellbeing for its residents. Four-day working week trials in Iceland have been described as an "overwhelming success" while monitoring of schemes in Auckland, NZ has found increased positivity and better work life balance are the results.

For the people of Scotland, those benefits could be just around the corner. Watch this space.

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