SCOTLAND has been praised for “leading the charge” after reports that Humza Yousaf will bring in a four-day working week for some public sector workers.
In his Programme for Government, which is due to be published this week as Holyrood returns from recess, Yousaf is expected to spell out concrete policies in an attempt to put failures with the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) and Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) behind him.
The four-day working week is expected to be trialled for 12 months in the public sector, with an eye on a wider roll-out if it’s judged to be a success.
A four-day working week does not necessarily mean a person will only work four days, according to the 4 Day Week Campaign. Instead, 32 hours of work could be spread over more days in order to help employees achieve a more healthy work-life balance.
In 2022, a six-month pilot scheme saw 61 British companies employing 2900 people end with 56 of them pledging to continue the set-up in some form.
Scottish Government advisers reportedly hope that a successful trial of the scheme in parts of the Scottish public sector could act as a catalyst for wider change in the private sector as well.
Joe Ryle, the director of the 4 Day Week Campaign, praised the initiative.
He said: “This is fantastic news and builds upon all the evidence from across the world which shows that a four-day week with no loss of pay both increases productivity and improves work-life balance.
“The four-day week has been extremely successful for many businesses in the private sector already so it's only right and fair to see if those benefits can be applied to the public sector.
“One hundred years ago we moved from a six-day week to a five-day week. It's great to see Scotland now leading the charge towards a four-day week."
But the TaxPayers' Alliance, a pressure group pushing for lower taxes, criticised the plans. John O’Connell (above), the group’s chief executive, said: “Scots have no appetite for a part time public sector.
“A four-day week with no loss of pay will mean either worse services or a huge cost to taxpayers if the promised productivity gains don’t pay off.
“The Scottish Government should abandon plans for this bonkers experiment and stop the clock off.”
A 2022 report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) stated: "We find that on average Scots work 35.9 hours per week – just over a five-day week if we assume a seven-hour day with an hour for lunch. Many, however, work significantly more than that.
"Over a fifth work more than 42 hours per week (a six-day week) and over a tenth work more than 49 hours per week (a seven-day week) ...
"In addition to working patterns, it is also crucial to recognise individual employee preferences. Our analysis of the ONS Labour Force Survey finds that the vast majority of Scots (63%) are happy with the hours they work.
"Around 30% would like to work fewer hours, but only 12% would accept a pay cut for this. That leaves 18% of Scots who are looking for fewer hours without a reduction in pay."
The reported plans will form part of a Programme for Government (PfG) which the SNP have said will aim to “unleash economic potential”.
Speaking on Sunday, Wellbeing Economy Secretary Neil Gray (above), a close ally of the First Minister, said: “There’s a lot in this PfG for people that are interested in the economy to be excited about.
“We’re looking to make sure that we are doing what we can, within the powers that we have, to unleash economic potential whether that is in renewable energy or supporting our first-class business, ensuring that they have a good operating base, a good landscape within which to do business, supporting people to start their own business and supporting people into work to ensure that we have the labour market supply there to ensure our businesses continue to thrive and flourish.”