Shorter hours

Holyrood pilots 4-day week as Morrisons cans plan

Ross Greer
Ross Greer: benefits

The Scottish Government has begun a four-day week pilot scheme for civil servants just as supermarket group Morrisons becomes the latest company to drop the idea.

The pilot, confirmed by the SNP-led administration today, was secured by the Scottish Greens shortly after the party joined the Holyrood Government.

Greens finance spokesman Ross Greer says the normalisation of a four day working week with no loss of pay will have a transformative impact on the health and wellbeing of workers and on their performance.

“We introduced a four day work for Scottish Green staff in 2022 and have seen the benefits for ourselves,” he said.

However, Morrisons has dropped the shorter week arrangement after office staff complained at having to work at weekends.

The supermarket reduced weekly hours at its head office from 40 to 37.5 in 2021, working nine instead of eight hours a day over four days, plus a six-hour day one Saturday a month. This would enable head office staff to better support workers at its 497 supermarkets.

Under new proposals, which come into force next month, its 2,000 employees will move to a four-and-a-half-day working week. Staff will still work 37.5 hours a week but are not required to work on Saturdays, according to The Grocer, which first reported the story.

Morrisons is one of a number of companies across Britain to have rowed back on the four-day working week pattern brought in after the Covid pandemic.

Morrisons wanted head office staff to offer more support to stores at weekends

London-based technology company Krystal, hoped a four-day working week would improve staff wellbeing, but stopped the trial after a few months as it found it did the opposite for employees’ health as staff became more stressed by trying to complete their week in a shorter time.

Other firms have reported more success with the plan, with workers enjoying the added leisure time and opportunity to spend more time with their families.

Asda is said to be considering the switch to a shorter week to tackle high staff turnover, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Sainsbury’s has been running a trial for a four-day week at its offices in Holborn, Coventry and Milton Keynes, as well as for store managers in its 1,400 UK shops.

The World Economic Forum recently noted that pilots of the four day working week in Spain increased productivity, improved the physical and mental health of workers and reduced CO2 emissions as a result of fewer cars being on the road during the working week.

The Scottish Government has appointed Autonomy as partner to support the pilot. The team involved in the project have previous four-day working week pilot experience including from the Valencian Government pilot, and the Icelandic public sector pilot.

The South of Scotland Enterprise Four Day Working Week pathfinder work is being folded into Autonomy’s methodology, and engagement will continue with other public bodies interested in participating in the 32-hour working week pilot.

Autonomy will also provide support and evaluate organisations moving to a contractual 35 hour working week. This will capture valuable insights from a wider range of public bodies on different shorter work week models and be included in the Four Day Working Week evaluation report.

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