By Kathleen Nutt

Political Correspondent

CAMPAIGNERS for a four day working week with no loss of pay have criticised ministers for failing to deliver on a pilot scheme promised ahead of the Holyrood election.

Nicola Sturgeon made the commitment at the launch of the SNP's manifesto in April 2021 with the document saying her government would introduce a £10million fund “to allow companies to pilot and explore the benefits of a four-day working week”.

“Before the pandemic struck, many people were already worried about work-life balance,” she said. “We want to do more to support people to achieve a better balance and help businesses employ as many people as possible.”

The SNP leader added: “As part of that, we will establish a £10m fund to support willing companies to explore and pilot the benefits of a four-day working week.”

The SNP's manifesto said: “We will use the learning from this to consider a more general shift to a four-day working week as and when Scotland gains full control of employment rights.

“We will also identify additional employment opportunities and assess the economic impact of moving to a four-day week.

“More widely, we will support a review - in partnership with trade unions and businesses - of how working practices could and should be adapted to meet the needs of the future economy.”

However, the pilot scheme has yet to be introduced.

Joe Ryle, Director of the 4 Day Week Campaign, said: “It's extremely disappointing that the pilot hasn't got off the ground yet and another example of broken promises from politicians.

"We know that thousands of Scottish companies are interested in moving to a four-day week and there is wide support across the Scottish public.

“It's about time the Scottish Government got on with it and delivered what they promised nearly two years ago."

Mercedes Villalba, Labour MSP for North East Scotland, said: “The SNP have a habit of announcing policies that they fail to deliver on and the Scottish people are fed up with their press release politics.

“A four-day working week with no loss of pay would be transformative for Scotland and there is nothing stopping the Government from delivering this much needed pilot."

In 2021, the Spanish government launched a three-year pilot project, using £45m of EU funds for mid-size companies to offer a four-day working week to staff.

Under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour pledged during the 2019 general election campaign to deliver a four-day week within a decade. “We should work to live, not live to work,” said the then shadow chancellor, John McDonnell.

Ahead of the Holyrood election, Advice Direct Scotland urged the political parties to include a four-day work week pledge in their manifestos, saying the policy “has been shown to work”.

The charity said absenteeism had fallen by more than 75 per cent since it brought in a reduced working week, and cited a report which last year found 70 per cent of people backed a four-day week, with only 8 per cent opposed or strongly opposed to the idea.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government recognises the environmental, health and well-being benefits, and efficiency gains that a four-day working week could bring.

“Ministers remain committed to exploring the benefits of a four-day working week. This year’s Programme for Government restated our commitment to support research and advice to improve workplace productivity and wellbeing, including on the delivery of a four-day working week pilot.

“However, in the midst of the current economic challenges there has never been greater pressure on the public finances and demand for government support. To ensure help reaches those who need it most, we have had to make tough decisions around prioritising our commitments.”