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Compressed Working Week

A survey of public sector employers highlights limited progress in delivering Scottish Government support for a compressed working week as part of greater flexible working in Scotland.

Compressed hours is a working pattern where employees complete their contracted hours within fewer working days. For example, they may work 37.5 hours over 4 days instead of 5 days.

Some 60 companies recently agreed to participate in a large-scale UK four-day week pilot. 92% of employers said they would continue with a shorter workweek following the programme – with 30% making the change permanent. The Scottish Government is committed to piloting the benefits of a four-day working week, although slow progress has been criticised by campaigners.

The Jimmy Reid Foundation used an FoI request to ascertain the progress public service employers in Scotland had made with a compressed working week. Overall, the survey indicates that almost all of the Scottish public sector has adopted the concept of a compressed working week in principle. However, it is difficult to say if the take-up is significant, and the available data would indicate a low take-up. Most employers can’t provide the data, so they cannot monitor the policy. Decentralising the decision-making function may be acceptable in principle, but it shouldn’t stop data collection. We know from other studies that middle managers often resist adopting flexible working.

Jimmy Reid Foundation Director Dave Watson said:

“As employment law is reserved, the Scottish Government can help promote the benefits of flexible working to workers and businesses by delivering on its promised scheme and improving data collection so we can properly assess the policy impact.”

You can read more in our latest briefing on this issue.