The Scottish Government is being urged to “lead the way” by introducing a four-day working week – a move almost nine of out 10 of its employees support.
The PCS union urged the Government to make the change and show that in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the future “can be better for workers”.
Union leaders made the plea as the think-tank Autonomy said a poll of a sample of more than 2,000 Scottish Government employees showed that 87% favoured a four-day working week being piloted across all areas of the government.
The vast majority of staff questioned (84%) believed they could “adapt their work processes in order to suit a shorter working week”.
Autonomy’s report also suggested the Scottish Government would benefit from improved recruitment and retention of staff, while it would also be “seen as a pioneer in setting new working time standards for the Scottish economy” and have a happier and healthier workforce.
The call comes after the UPAC Group, a Glasgow-based specialist packaging firm, said it was to introduce a four-day working week – with its staff remaining on the same salary – after a successful trial.
Cat Boyd, PCS national officer, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has shown that we are able to work in ways many employers told us weren’t possible before.
“Through this project, Scottish Government staff are making it clear that the future can be different, that it can be better for workers, employers, the economy and the environment.
“The Scottish Government should now lead the way on the four-day week by working with PCS to make these possibilities into realities.”
Meanwhile, Will Stronge, director of research at Autonomy, insisted that the four-day week was “an idea whose time has come”.
He said the think-tank’s research showed “the wide breadth of support there is for a four-day week across Scottish Government”.
Mr Stronge added: “The SNP already have a national-level pilot planned, but there is now a strong case for expanding this to include government workers.”
According to Autonomy’s research, 70% of Scottish Government staff reported regularly working over their contracted hours.
Meanwhile, more than half (52%) were unhappy with the amount of free time they currently have – with almost two thirds (63%) saying they do not have enough time to carry out caring responsibilities for family members or within their local community.
While 87% backed the introduction of a four-day working week – with 62% strongly supporting this – just 4% were opposed to such a move, while 9% did not know.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “This research has been led entirely by PCS and does not represent a commitment from Scottish Government to a four-day working week.
“The report acknowledges this is complex and requires detailed consideration and staff engagement to ensure it could achieve the outcomes being sought and continue to deliver a high quality service to the people of Scotland.
“There are clearly many significant policy and practical issues which require to be considered given the complex variety of roles undertaken within Scottish Government and its agencies, including the potential need for additional staff acknowledged in the report. We will continue to work with trades unions and ministers on evaluating the potential for a shorter working week.”