The Scottish Government’s 2021–22 Programme for Government included a commitment to fund a series of four-day working week pilots across Scotland in 2023. In addition to this, a number of Scottish companies are taking part in UK-wide four-day week trials which has seen the move towards a shorter working week become a topic of debate.

The pilots will provide learnings for other employers and give insights into how the organisations taking part manage their shift to a four-day week. However, what is still unclear is the general attitude of employers towards a shorter week, and the logistics of how organisations implement reduced working hours without compromising pay.

This report addresses the knowledge gap in employer perspectives to inform organisations and policy-makers of the challenges and opportunities that come with adopting a shorter working week. The report also draws on data from the Labour Force Survey to understand the current pattern of working hours of people in Scotland. Where sample sizes permit, we include Scottish graphs and trends, but there is very little difference in the patterns found between Scottish and UK-wide data.

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The four-day week: Scottish employer perspectives on moving to a shorter working week

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Key findings

  • Many employees in Scotland already work a four-day week or less, and equally, many work more than a five-day week. Individual preferences for working patterns vary, but statistics find the majority are happy with their current working hours.
  • While most people would find working fewer hours desirable, they are not willing to take a pay cut to achieve this.
  • Over half the surveyed Scottish employers feel it is unlikely to move to a four-day week without reducing pay. A shorter week also raises the question of how to manage atypical and non-salaried workers.
  • The cost-of-living crisis, and a potential rise in unemployment, could see a stronger focus on boosting working hours.
  • Reduced working hours do not necessarily suit everybody, or every industry, and organisations need to find a way to address this.

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