Four-day week may be Sturgeon’s secret weapon as new study finds most Britons in favour

ITV debate: Audience laugh at Corbyn's four-day week proposal

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The Scottish Government recently announced it will be trialling the move following success seen in a number of other pilot schemes around the world. Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP is also launching a £10 million fund to help companies that want to trial a shorter working week. Now a new poll has revealed almost six in 10 UK adults want to see the standard working week reduced to 32 hours, without pay being affected.

This new data from Opinium, which quizzed 2,001 adults on September 22 and 23 and WAS shared exclusively with, showed 57 percent would support moving to a shorter working week.

Just over a fifth (21 percent) are against the move.

More than a third (34 percent) of both males and females strongly support such a proposal.

Clive Lewis, a former Labour leadership candidate, said: “It’s no surprise that such large numbers of people support moving to a shorter working week, with evidence from across the world showing it can have a really positive impact on working people and the businesses they work for.”

The Norwich South MP added: “As we emerge from the pandemic we have a real chance to do things differently – and moving to a shorter working week, where people have more time to spend with family and friends, and where the balance between work and leisure is more balanced, would be a major step forwards.”

One long-term trial took place in Iceland, which saw many people move to shorter working hours, and was described as an “overwhelming success by researchers.

The study indicated a stabilisation or increase in productivity, while employers did not lose money and worker wellbeing surged.

A number of other countries, such as Finland and New Zealand, have also thrown their support behind the idea, with experts believing it would create more jobs.

But a UK Government spokesperson told “There are no plans for the government to mandate a four-day working week, as the cost to the economy, businesses and jobs would be excessive.

“However, we know how important flexible working arrangements are which is why only last week we announced a wide-ranging package of measures to help give employees more flexible working options in the future.’

Joe Ryle, the Campaign Director of the 4 Day Week Campaign, believes a four-day working week with no loss of pay will be beneficial for workers, productivity and the environment.

He has urged Boris Johnson to follow other UK nations in pressing ahead with trials in England.

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Mr Ryle said: “The four-day week with no loss of pay is good for workers, good for productivity and good for the environment.

“Scotland and Ireland are going ahead with trials, Wales is considering the same and the time has come for Boris Johnson to give the go-ahead to trials in England.

“We invented the weekend a century ago and it’s time for an update. The 9-5, five-day working week is outdated and no longer fit for purpose.”

In the lead up to the Scottish election in May, the SNP’s plan for a four-day working week was branded “absolutely ludicrous” and claims it could cost the public sector at least £2.5billion to implement.

The Scottish Conservatives warned delivering the plan cost the NHS an extra £1.5bn, the education system a £430 million, the police an extra £431m, the fire service an extra £108m and the prison service an extra £43m – all before cutting staff salaries or public services.

Maurice Golden, the Shadow Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, told “This is an absolutely ludicrous plan that would cost Scotland £2.5billion.

“At the height of the pandemic, how we can be possibly considering additional costs without the associated benefits is just absolutely mind-numbingly excruciating.

“It beggars’ belief that this is being actively considered by the SNP.”

He added: “The deficit Scotland currently has is bigger than what Greece had at the height of the financial crisis.

“When you add on a four-day week and a £2.5billion deficit onto that, you have an economic calamity on your hands.”

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