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Scottish four-day working week pilots must include trials in non-office jobs

Trials for four-day working weeks should be expanded to non-office jobs to make sure workers in all sectors of the economy benefit from shorter working hours, a leading think tank has urged.

SNP ministers are being pressed by the IPPR Scotland think tank to pilot more schemes after research showed more than eight out of 10 Scots would support the introduction of a four-day working week – so long as their wages stay the same.

A survey for IPPR Scotland found 80 per cent of people believed that cutting their numbers of days at work – with no loss of pay – would have a “positive effect on their wellbeing”.

As well as finding that more than 80 per cent would back such a change, the poll found that 88 per cent would be willing to take part in trial schemes being set up by Holyrood ministers.

The Scottish Government has pledged a £10 million fund for companies trialling a four-day week with pilot projects being staged in the wake of changes brought on by the pandemic lockdown.

Trade unions have also urged the government to look at shorter working weeks which research shows could increase productivity as well as improve the mental and physical health of staff.

IPPR Scotland said the SNP government should expand schemes to include more sectors of the economy so that people working non-office based jobs, and those who do shift work and part-time employees, can all take part.

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The think tank argued that unless lower paid sectors are included in the pilot, along with those who may find making the shift to a four-day week more difficult, the trial schemes may not properly test the impact of such a switch.

Rachel Statham, of 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.”

The IPPR poll, for which some of 2,203 people aged between 16 and 65 were questioned , also found that almost two thirds (65 percent) believe a shorter working week could boost Scotland’s productivity.

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