Think-tank proposes four-day week in the Scottish public sector

A new report says Scotland could create up to 59,000 jobs by moving its public sector to a four-day week.


Scotland’s public sector should move to a four-day week, creating up to 59,000 jobs, according to a new report.

The report from the Autonomy think-tank says the move would cost between £1.4bn and £2bn – around 3% of the public sector pay bill in Scotland and create between 45,000 and 59,000 new job opportunities in the sector.

The report says the figures do not take into account the reduced costs to the healthcare system that having a healthier workforce would bring and says the policy would be “a high-impact, low cost policy that could pioneer better work-life balance for workers across the UK”.

It comes after news that Unilever is to pilot a four-day week in New Zealand and amid growing experimentation over flexible working as a result of Covid.

Virgin Money was reported this week to be sharing a new hybrid working model after around two thirds of its workforce were set up to work productively from home for most of the time earlier in the year.

A spokesman told “Our future operating model will seek to maintain the positives of a remote working structure, providing colleagues with greater flexibility and choice, including for those who previously worked a very traditional pattern of 9 to 5, Monday to Friday in the office. We will not go back to how things were before Covid; it’s given us the opportunity to redesign the working model so colleagues can live their best life and we can attract and retain the best, diverse talent.”

It is examining how to introduce flexibility, including into typically less flexible roles, enable them with technology and redefine where and when its staff work, although it has no intention of becoming a full remote working business.

The spokesman adds: “This is an ongoing process. We don’t claim to have all of the answers at this stage, but we are clear on our ambition to turn the introduction of flexible working and the supporting technology we delivered during the pandemic into a permanent advantage for our business, and to the long-term benefit of all colleagues.”

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