Phil McParlane, founder of jobs site 4dayweek.io guest blogs for us about the possibilities around a four-day work week.
In recent years, the idea of a four-day work week has gained widespread appeal. For instance, in September 2023, the Scottish Government announced its plans to implement a test programme for a four-day work week within specific sectors of its public service.
This 12-month experiment involves reducing the working hours of employees without any reduction in their salary. After the completion, the government of Scotland will analyse the results to understand the feasibility and implications of a four-day work week model.
This initiative is not Scotland’s first step into exploring the shorter work week concept. Back in 2021, the Scottish government donated £10 million fund to aid organizations interested in taking part in a 4-day work week pilot programme.
So, let’s explore the four-day work week in Scotland, famous companies promoting the approach, and some valuable information that’s worth knowing!
Scotland’s Working Hours
In Scotland, working hours reflect a blend of traditional structures and modern flexibility. While the standard working week typically ranges between 37 to 40 hours, there is a notable variation depending on the industry and specific job roles.
When it comes to overtime, the new policies in Scotland are quite specific. Employers are not legally obligated to provide additional compensation for overtime work. However, it’s not uncommon for employers to voluntarily provide it as a gesture of goodwill or as part of their employment policy.
Regardless of the hours worked or the nature of the compensation for overtime, there is a crucial legal safeguard in place. It simply indicates that the total earnings of an employee, inclusive of any overtime, must never fall below the national minimum wage.
Top Companies Promoting 4-Day Work Week in Scotland
Let’s explore some organizations in Scotland that are promoting a four-day week model:
1. Pursuit Marketing
Pursuit Marketing, a Glasgow-based company, has been a pioneer in implementing the 4-day work week in Scotland. This innovative approach was adopted back in 2016, not only at its Glasgow headoffice but also at its base in Malaga, Spain.
The director of Pursuit, Lorraine Gray, emphasises that the four-day week is just one aspect of their flexible working package. And guess what? Its results were quite positive.
2. Barra Distillers
Barra Distillers, located on the Isle of Barra, is known for its production of unique spirits such as gins and rums. In January 2022, the company adopted a four-day working week for its employees, with the same working hours and no loss in salary.
The decision was made to achieve a better work-life balance for the team, offering them more time for personal activities and family. This shift also includes some operational changes, such as no longer dispatching orders on Fridays.
Administrate, headquartered in Edinburgh, Scotland, is another software company that has embraced a four-day work week. This innovative approach allows their team to work 8 hours for four days per week while still receiving full pay.
The company’s founder, John Peebles, was inspired by his experiences in China, where a transition from a six-day to a five-day working week resulted in no loss of productivity. Administrate’s adoption of a four-day work week aligns with its goal to create sustainable work habits and ensure a balance between work and personal life for its team.
4. Safer Communities
The Scottish Community Safety Network (SCSN) embarked on a bold journey towards a more balanced life-work culture by initiating four-day work week trials. This 6-month pilot programme was started in October 2021.
During the pilot, employees participated in regular surveys to assess various aspects such as job satisfaction, physical and mental health, and the quality of work.
5. Wellbeing Economy Alliance
The Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll) has adopted a four-day work week for its global Amp team. This move was influenced by a range of factors, including social and environmental considerations.
From a social perspective, a four-day work week offers staff increased flexibility to balance work with other commitments, including domestic responsibilities, community activities, and personal development. In addition, this shift also has environmental benefits, potentially reducing transport costs and pollution.
The UPAC Group, a Glasgow-based packaging supplier for the food and drink industry, has joined the growing list of companies trialling the 4-day work week. After extensive research and trials, UPAC’s management team decided to formalise the four-day work week for their employees.
UPAC’s approach to the four-day work week is slightly different from the traditional model. The company continues to operate five days a week to meet its customers’ needs. However, this model involves a rotational system where different teams work for four days each week, ensuring that the business remains operational every day.
7. Melville Housing Association
Melville Housing Association is now the first Registered Social Landlord (RSL) in Scotland to implement a 4-day work week. This move is part of their response to the worsening cost-of-living crisis. Initiated on January 1, 2023, the 12-month programme indicates Friday as a non-working day for employees while retaining full pay.
8. Lux Edinburgh
Lux Edinburgh has joined the pilot scheme to implement a four-day working week. This initiative, supported by Cambridge and Oxford University researchers, aims to see if the four-day work week and longer weekends affect productivity and workers’ well-being.
9. Canon Medical
Canon Medical Research Europe participated in the six-month, four-day work week trial in the UK. This trial was coordinated by 4 Day Week Global, Autonomy, the 4 Day Week UK Campaign, and researchers from Cambridge University, Boston College, and Oxford University.
The trial aimed to measure the impact of a shorter work week on employee productivity, well-being, and gender equality. Employees, including those at Canon Medical Research Europe, were paid a full wage despite working one day less per week.
10. Vault City Brewing
Vault City Brewing, a renowned producer of modern sour beers, has embraced a permanent four-day work week for its 13 employees across brewery, bar, and office locations. This shift has been well-received, with staff appreciating it as they could achieve improved mental health and heightened productivity levels.
Vault City’s co-founder, Steven Smith Hay, emphasised the importance of creating a healthy life-work balance for his team and was committed to introducing this innovative work model.
However, it brings several challenges, as the brewing industry is known for its demanding work schedule. Despite initial challenges, Vault City Brewing sets a groundbreaking example in the brewing industry by prioritising a healthier and more balanced approach to work.
In Scotland, the groundbreaking shift towards a four-day work week marks a significant milestone in redefining workplace norms. Led by the Scottish National Party in collaboration with Scottish Labour, this initiative reflects a progressive approach to work-life balance, particularly in the public sector and civil service.
Similarly, the Welsh Government is also exploring similar measures, recognizing the potential benefits of a shortened work week. This aligns with a broader movement across the UK regarding this model.
If you are interested in getting a job with a better work-life balance in the UK, there are currently many companies hiring on a shorter working week.