A COALITION of unions, think tanks and businesses are demanding the First Minister bring in a national subsidy so that a four-day working week can be introduced with no loss of pay.

The group are calling on ministers to follow the lead of the Spanish Government who are providing €50m (£44m) in funding to companies to test out the effectiv eness of a four-day working week.

Spain’s socialist-led coalition government is offering the financial incentives to companies that attempt to introduce a 32-hour work week.

The aim is to see if productivity and wellbeing can be increased within a shorter four-day work week, whist maintaining employees’ wages at the same level.

A report by the think tank Autonomy stated that a four-day week for Scotland’s public sector could create up to 60,000 new jobs.

The Scottish appeal for the four-day week comes in joint letter to the First Minister which has been signed by the Scottish Trades Union Congress, Unite Scotland, Public and Commercial Services Union Scotland, as well as the social enterprise and charities hub Circle Scotland CIC and the Autonomy and New Economics Foundation think tanks.

The signatories say pressure is building on the First Minister to adhere to an SNP conference motion passed at the end of November which was overwhelmingly backed by members and called on the Scottish Government to explore proposals for implementing a four-day week in Scotland.

Scotland's first ever Citizens Assembly also backed the Scottish Government considering a four-day working week in December.

The 4 Day Week Campaign says the UK works longer full-time hours compared with all other EU countries except for Greece and Austria.

The letter says: The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the world of work totally up in the air and there is now an opportunity to move away from the outdated and old ways of working.

"2020 saw growing popularity and momentum for a four-day (32 hour) working week with no loss of pay and we know from history that shorter working hours are the best approach for spreading existing work more equally across the economy in times of economic recession.

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"Last week, the Spanish Government announced a pilot into the four-day week... This could pave the way for Spain to become the first country in the world to move towards a four-day week.

"We believe that countries across the world must learn from the Spanish example and embrace shorter working hours in response to the Covid pandemic.

"Scotland has a unique opportunity to lead the way."

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.

HeraldScotland:

Boris Johnson has already slapped down calls from Nicola Sturgeon to hold a Scottish independence referendum.

The move has echoes of the Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour's 32-hour working week plan ahead of the 2019 election which was ridiculed in some quarters.

Joe Ryle, a campaigner with the 4 Day Week Campaign, said: “A four-day week with no loss of pay is backed by a big majority of Scots, SNP members, the trade union movement and Scottish businesses so Nicola Sturgeon has no excuses for not acting.

“Shorter working hours are the best way to share work more equally across the economy during a recession and would bring many other benefits such as improved mental health, a better work-life balance and a boost in productivity.

“Nicola Sturgeon should listen to her own party members and set Scotland on the path to a four-day week.”

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

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

In Spain, the four-day week measure is part of a deal between Spain’s Deputy PM Carmen Calvo and the leader of centre-left party Más País Íñigo Errejón, who has a shorter work week as one of the pillars of his political campaigns.

Spain’s Labour Ministry is currently deciding the details of the four-day work week campaign, but it is expected that the system will be designed in such a way that productivity can be measured against the average increase in salary per hour worked.

Spain’s current work week is a maximum of 40 hours long by law, and each work day can’t be longer than 9 hours.

According to Eurostat data from 2019, employees in Spain average 36.4 hours of work per week, almost on a par with the UK and France and the average for the EU (36.2 hours).

Valencia’s regional government recently announced that in 2021 it would pay companies that adopted the four-day work week more than €300 (£263) per employee.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Scotland’s businesses and workers have adapted to the Covid-related workplace challenges in ways that sustain their businesses and support employee welfare.

“Working practices are being changed by the pandemic and the Scottish Government is actively exploring the risks and benefits of delivering a shorter working week as part of our commitment to a well-being economy.

“This, and a range of other measures, will be considered after we have got Scotland through the immediate public health crisis.”