Scotland in talks to trial a four-day working week

A four-day working week has been proposed in Scotland says a Scottish government minister

four-day working week
(Image credit: Maskot / Getty Images)

Scotland has reportedly begun discussions about imposing a shorter four-day working week in the country, sparking hopes that a four-day working week might be implemented across the UK.

Working longer hours and feeling stressed can be linked to insomnia, anxiety, and burnout. For this reason, it has long been debated whether a four-day working week instead of a five-day working week would improve the productivity and wellbeing of 9 to five workers. 

Across the world, countries such as Spain have begun trialing a four-day week in some sectors. Iceland's four-day-week trial was deemed an ‘overwhelming success’ and this has led to questions about whether a four-day week would be a success in the UK.

A Scottish Government spokesman told The Times, "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."

The spokesperson continued to say, "Reductions in the working week might help sustain more and better jobs, and enhance wellbeing.

"We are in the early stages of designing a £10 million 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."

Think-tank IPPR (Institute for Public Policy Research) Scotland surveyed 2,203 people aged 16 to 65 and discovered that 80% of people believed that cutting down the number of days in a working week, with no loss of pay, would benefit their wellbeing. The survey found that 88 people also were willing to take part in trial schemes organized by Holyrood ministers.

A senior research fellow at IPPR Scotland, Rachel Statham, said, "The Scottish government is right to be trialing 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."

Although there is clearly a long way to go, the beginning of this conversation in Scotland bodes well for other parts of the United Kingdom who are hopeful that these trials may prove to be a success and the average working week will be reduced to four days across the UK.

Laura Harman

Laura is the Entertainment Editor for woman&home who primarily covers television, film, and celebrity news. Laura loves drinking and eating and can often be found trying to get reservations at London's trendiest restaurants. When she's not wining and dining, Laura can also be found travelling, baking, and hiking with her dog.