NEARLY two in three Scots would support a move to a four-day working week as the country eases out of lockdown, it has been revealed.

Research carried out by Survation, commissioned by the independent think-tank Autonomy, revealed that 63 per cent of people across the UK back a four-day week – rising to 70 per cent in Scotland.

That is higher than every region in England and Wales, and only behind Northern Ireland on 75 per cent.

Nicola Sturgeon said in May that employers should look into “embracing” a four-day working week as part of future dhanges to the economy.

The First Minister was responding to a question from Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard in the Scottish Parliament on how the economy could look after the coronavirus crisis.

He called for “a new industrial strategy, a new plan for the economy and a new plan for jobs” to deal with rising unemployment.

HeraldScotland: First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

A cross-party group of MPs from Labour, SNP, Plaid Cymru, the SDLP and the Green Party recently signed an Early Day Motion calling on the UK Government to set up a commission to consider the proposal.

The Glasgow-based charity Advice Direct Scotland, which runs Scotland’s national advice service advice.scot, introduced a four-day working week for all staff in 2018.

All 90 members of staff receive the same wages, while working fewer hours.

Employees are encouraged to talk about what they did on their day off, and the move has led to greater productivity and positivity in the workforce.

Will Stronge, director of research for Autonomy, said: “The research demonstrates that a shorter working week is beneficial to the environment, to our wellbeing and to staff performance in businesses. It’s a ‘multi-dividend’ policy.

“The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the inadequacies of our labour market and has hit those on low incomes in stressful, key worker jobs hardest.

“A fairer, post-COVID economy that benefits workers is the right thing to do and shorter working hours with no reduction in pay should be part of that.”

Labour MP John McDonnell and Caroline Lucas are amongst those who have written to the hancellor calling for a four-day working week in the coming months.

They argue that reducing hours could provide greater opportunities amid growing levels of unemployment.

In the letter sent to the Treasury, they say "shorter working time has been used throughout history as a way of responding to economic crises".

They believe that a four-day working week could overhaul the economy, and provide opportunities amid the growing unemployment crisis.

"A four-day week would give many more opportunities to the growing list of unemployed people which already stands at 2.8 million people," the letter explains.

"Shorter working time has been used throughout history as a way of responding to economic crises.

"They were used as a way of reducing unemployment during the Great Depression of the 1930s, which led to the normalisation of the eight-hour day and the 40-hour week.”

"A four-day week would bring multiple benefits to society, the environment, our democracy, and our economy (through increased productivity)."

Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s prime minister, suggested employers could consider a four-day working week in response to the Covid-19 crisis, which she said would “certainly” boost the tourism industry.

The four-day working concept first picked up momentum during the 2019 December election, as Labour floated a policy of a 32-hour working week with no loss of pay within ten years.

But campaigners now believe with the country facing an economic crisis in the wake of the pandemic “shorter working time presents itself as one of the best options for fundamentally restructuring the economy so that work is shared more equally”.

Joe Ryle, a campaigner with the 4 Day Week Campaign, said: “The four-day week is an idea that is gaining momentum across the world right now because people are reimagining a better future for themselves post COVID-19.

“A four-day working week is a no-brainer. Why wouldn’t we want to be happier, healthier and at the same time – more productive at work?”

Andrew Bartlett, chief executive of Advice Direct Scotland, said: “We are a people-first organisation, and we’re always exploring ways to improve the work-life balance.

“In 2018 we became one of the first major organisations in Scotland to introduce a four-day working week, recognising the positive difference this would make.

“This has undoubtedly led to greater productivity and positivity among employees, and we particularly encourage staff to share stories about the activities they enjoyed on their extra day off.

“It has been an incredibly busy period for us providing free advice at such a difficult time for so many Scots, but we ensured the four-day working week remained in place during lockdown and all staff worked from home.

“As businesses consider how they will operate in the future, we would encourage them to consider adopting a four-day working week.”