Scotland to trial four day work week for public sector workers

07/09/2023

Gerard O’Hare, Legal Director for Scotland at WorkNest, said:

“When we talk about the four-day week it’s a common misconception that it refers to a move towards compressed hours. This isn’t the case; rather, it is a campaign for a 32-hour working week with no loss of pay.

“Trials and global pilots of the four-day week are raising awareness of the format but in reality, the widespread implementation of it could be a slow burn.  However, the Scottish government’s announcement this week that government agencies will begin a four-day week pilot project later this year is a big step forward in this regard.

“The results of the largest UK-wide trial to have been completed so far found that 92% of the participating companies continued with the short week. Of the 61 companies that took part, at least 56 are continuing with the trial, with 18 of these saying the policy is a permanent change.

“It lends itself to particular businesses, the obvious being the ‘office based and nine-to-five’ organisations. It is a realistic option for these that brings many benefits and boost productivity.

“In today’s highly competitive job market, it could make all the difference in securing the best candidate, as well as boosting engagement and morale with existing employees to support staff retention.

“The amending of part-time employee contracts is a big consideration due to the ‘one hundred percent pay’ nature of the four-day week, for eighty percent of the hours. You may have to look to reduce the working time of part time workers or increase salaries so it matches that of full-time staff.

“Arguably, there are currently more questions than answers surrounding this way of working. We need to take learnings from pilots done in other countries such as Japan, Iceland and New Zealand who are early adopters of the short week.

“Flexible working is also an alternative solution that can bring similar benefits to an organisation that isn’t confident a four-day week is for them.”

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