A Shorter Working Week in Government: A worker-led inquiry into desirability, feasibility and impact

27 July 2021

At a glance:

  • This is a report on the findings of an
    intensive consultation process involving
    staff from across the Scottish Government.


  • The consultation process involved working
    with the PCS Scotland trade union, and
    speaking to PCS, Prospect and FDA trade
    union members as well as non-union


  • The report’s findings suggest that
    many business areas within the Scottish
    Government could move to a shorter
    working week without having to employ
    new staff. The report also reveals that in
    some roles the move to a shorter work
    week will be more complex than others
    and would therefore involve new hires.


  • Staff feedback suggests any
    implementation of a shorter working
    week should include the whole Scottish
    Government and be done in such a way
    as to not undermine future negotiations
    over pay and conditions.


  • A poll of a sample of over 2000
    employees from across Scottish Government
    revealed large support for the idea. 87%
    agreed that the employer should pilot a
    four-day working week across all areas of
    Scottish Government.


  • All three modes of engagement
    demonstrated how valued flexible working
    is within the Scottish Government, with
    84% agreeing that they have sufficient
    flexibility within their job.


  • A large majority of staff (84%) also
    believed that they could adapt their
    work processes in order to suit a shorter
    working week.


  • The report demonstrates clear, perceived
    benefits for the employer. These include:
    retention and recruitment of staff;
    being seen as a pioneer in setting new
    working time standards for the Scottish
    economy; and having a happier/ healthier



Kyle Lewis
Will Stronge


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.”


Will Stronge, Director of Research at Autonomy, said:


“This study shows the wide breadth of support there is for a four day week across Scottish Government. The SNP already have a national-level pilot planned but there is now a strong case for expanding this to include government workers. The four-day week is an idea whose time has come.”

This project was supported by the PCS Scotland trade union.