A four-day week for Scotland’s public sector could create 60,000 new jobs and “represents good value for money”.

That is the conclusion of an study by the think-tank Autonomy which also shows that the reduced working week would also cost the nation £1.4 billion per year.

But it points out that that constitutes just 3% of the public sector pay bill in Scotland and just 2% of public spending overall.

It says the analysis do not take into account the reduced costs to the NHS that having a healthier workforce would bring.

A motion passed by a massive majority at the Scottish National Party conference backed the move to introduced a four-day working week if it secedes from the UK.

The move has echoes of the Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour's 32-hour working week plan ahead of last year's election which was ridiculed in some quarters.

READ MORE: Two in three Scots support move to a four-day working week, says study

Boris Johnson has already slapped down calls from Nicola Sturgeon to hold a Scottish independence referendum as early as next year The First Minister has insisted "the sooner the better" on the timing of a new vote on splitting up the UK, saying Scotland needed the powers to "rebuild" after coronavirus in the way its people wanted.

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SNP members have now called on Holyrood to instigate a review that could bring about a four-day working week in the event of independence.

Autonomy say that Scotland has a high rate of public sector employment when compared to the rest of the UK, meaning that a four-day week would have a proportionally large impact on working lives.

The four-day working week is gaining in popularity across the world post Covid-19.

The Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern has spoken about the four-day week as a key way in which New Zealand’s economy can recover from the crisis and this week Unilever announced they are launching a one-year long trial.

Will Stronge, director of research at Autonomy, said:“A four-day week in the Scottish public sector would be a high-impact, low cost policy that could pioneer better work-life balance for workers across Scotland.

“At a very small fraction of the overall public sector pay bill, the move to a four-day week represents good value for money when considered alongside all of the benefits to workers and their employers.”

The Scottish Conservatives say that delivering the plan, without cutting staff salaries or public services, would cost the NHS an extra £1.5bn, the education system would need an extra £430 million, police would require £431m, the fire service would need another £108m and the prison service would need an extra £43m.

Maurice Golden, economy spokesman for the Scottish Tories, said the £2.5bn bill for the public sector would be only a starting point, as other taxpayer-funded organisations would also have to adopt the policy.

In May, Nicola Sturgeon asked private firms to “embrace” a four-day working week as the country adapts to life after lockdown.

Joe Ryle, a campaigner with the 4 Day Week Campaign, said: “Scotland is leading the way on a four-day week and this report shows very clearly that the policy is both desirable and affordable.

“The Scottish government doesn’t have the power to implement a four-day week across the entire economy but they can and should implement it across Scotland’s public sector.”

SNP party member Lee Robb made the case for a reduced working week while speaking in favour of the motion at the SNP conference on Monday.

He said: "The coronavirus pandemic has upended the way we live our lives but so too has it given us the opportunity to reset and rethink how we work."

Employees who work a four-day week are "happier, healthier, more productive, less likely to take time off sick and less likely to be burned out by the end of the week", he added. The passed resolution states: "Conference calls on the Scottish Government to undertake a review into how working practices should be adapted to meet the needs of the future economy, including the possibility of a four-day working week and more support for people to work from home or closer to home, with a view to reform when Scotland gains full control of employment rights."

On Monday it emerged that the consumer goods company Unilever is poised to try out a four-day working week for all its New Zealand employees.

The company said all 81 staff members at its offices across New Zealand would be able to participate in the trial, starting next week and running for 12 months until December next year. The employees would be paid for five days while working just four.

A shorter working week has been debated for a while in New Zealand with estate planning firm Perpetual Guardian making headlines in 2019 for pioneering the idea with its 250 staff and declaring it had seen big productivity increases.