Workers in Scotland could soon see their working week shrink to four days after new research calls for the Scottish government to expand its current trial to non-office staff. Scots have overwhelmingly backed the idea to cut the working week to four days following a successful trial.
Research carried out on behalf of the think-tank, IPPR Scotland, reveals 80% of people believe reducing the number of workdays a week, with no loss of pay, would be beneficial for their wellbeing. The survey of 2,203 people aged 15 to 65 found that 65% believe a shorter working week could also help to boost productivity.
Four-day week pilots
With the coronavirus pandemic changing working practices across the UK, the SNP pledged £10m for companies to trial a four-day working week. But while IPPR Scotland welcomed the trials, it is now urging the Scottish government to expand them to cover more economic sectors to enable shift-workers, part-time employers, and those working in non-office-based jobs to take part.
The think-tank believes that unless the government includes lower-paid sectors and shift workers in the trial, they won’t properly test the impact of such a change.
This isn’t the first attempt to garner support for a shorter working week. In 2019, a YouGov poll revealed three-quarters of workers in the UK supported shorter working hours. Research by Henley Business School also found that businesses that implemented a four-day week could get more out of their employees who were also much happier at work and took fewer sick days.
Alleviate culture of overworking
IPPR Scotland has suggested that the hours no longer worked could be used instead for training, be given to workers as parental leave or extra public holidays, or be bundled up and taken as sabbaticals from work. This is an idea Japan is already looking at as it attempts to reduce working hours to tackle its long working hours and chronic overworking culture.
Iceland also started cutting working hours six years ago by cutting four hours from the working week for some of the more stressful public sector roles. The positive outcomes of Iceland’s trial have seen it expand across most public and even some private sectors. As much as 86% of the Icelandic working population now work shorter weeks.
Furthermore, New Zealand started trialing reduced working hours even before the pandemic with a private employer. And the results were impressive. Along with a 20% increase in productivity, workers felt they had a much better work-life balance. As the world comes out of the pandemic, New Zealand’s PM believes that giving workers more leisure time will boost spending on the country’s tourism sectors.
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