Leaders debate: Long-Bailey quizzed on four day week cost
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Research for IPPR Scotland found that 80 percent 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 think tank-commissioned research comes as SNP ministers said they would consider setting up trial schemes but only in office-based jobs with £10million funding.
The pilots are being staged in the wake of changes in working practices brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.
IPPR Scotland said the Scottish Government should expand such schemes to include more sectors of the economy to include people in non-office-based jobs, those who do shift work and part-time employees.
Chiefs stressed the trial schemes may not properly test the impact of such a switch unless lower-paid sectors were included in the pilot, along with those who may find making the shift to a four-day week more difficult.
The survey also found that 88 percent would be willing to take part in trial schemes being set up by ministers at Holyrood.
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.
“So 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.”
A Scottish Government spokesman 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.
“Reductions in the working week might help sustain more and better jobs, and enhance wellbeing.
“We are in the early stages of designing a £10million pilot that will help companies explore the benefits and costs of moving to a four-day working week.
“The pilot will allow us to develop a better understanding of the implications of a broader shift to a shorter working week across the economy.”
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Advice Direct Scotland, which runs Scotland’s national advice service, introduced the measure for its own staff in 2018, meaning employees receive the same pay but work for a day less each week.
The charity said the move has widespread public support and has been demonstrated to improve productivity and staff morale, with absenteeism at the organisation down by around 75 per cent – and no reduction in the service offered.
Andrew Bartlett, chief executive, said: “The model is already well established in productive and efficient economies in Scandinavia, and Scotland can lead the way in the UK on this.
“This isn’t about businesses just giving staff a free day off each week – we know from our own experience that workers are far happier and more productive as a result, and absenteeism has fallen significantly.
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“And what’s crucial is that it makes sense financially for businesses and has a positive impact on the bottom line.
“While the model won’t be possible in every industry, for those workplaces which can adopt it there is much to be gained.”
Roz Foyer, Scottish Trades Union Congress general secretary, said: “Moving workers to a four-day week, without loss of pay, would bring a wide range of benefits.
“We welcome the recommendation that the Scottish Government should expand its four-day week pilot to include more sectors, including non-office-based jobs and those who work different shifts.
“A four-day week should be for everyone, and research into it should take into account workers other than nine-to-five office workers.
“If Scotland is serious about creating a wellbeing economy, then a four-day week is a key way to make progress towards it.”
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