Last reviewed 3 September 2021

According to polling carried out by think tank IPPR Scotland, 88% of working-age people in Scotland would be willing to take part in shorter working time trial schemes set to be piloted by the Scottish government.

Over 80% said that they would support the introduction of a four-day working week with no loss of pay while a similar percentage believe that a four-day week would have a positive effect on their wellbeing.

In its accompanying report, Changing times: The future of working time in Scotland (available here), the think tank argues that a shorter working week, without loss of pay, would also help to narrow gender divides.

The Scottish government has announced plans to invest £10 million in trialling a four-day working week pilot scheme.

However, IPPR Scotland insists that any pilot must include a variety of workers and employers across the economy. Unless lower paid sectors are included, it points out, and those roles that may be less straightforward to reduce working time for — such as part-time work — pilots may not test the proposals properly.

Citing the experience of countries such as Iceland, New Zealand and Japan, researchers at the think tank argue that there are potential tangible benefits for employees, employers and Scotland as a whole if the opportunity of a four-day working week is seized.

“In this report, we propose a roadmap towards shorter working time in Scotland, while recognising that any progressive vision for how we work in the future must also prioritise the twin challenges of over-employment and under-employment,” it states.

Evidence from international case studies suggests, the report goes on, that, if managed effectively, the transition to shorter working time can also support workplace innovation that maintains or even boosts productivity.

Comment by Kate Palmer, HR Advice and Consultancy Director at Peninsula

Several cross-party MPs urged the UK Government in June 2020 to consider legalising a four-day week and it seems that the Scottish government has taken these opinions on board.

It will be interesting to see if the rest of the UK will follow along, as well as the impact a four-day week will have on the Scottish, and wider UK, economy.