South of Scotland Enterprise (Four-day Working Week Pilot)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 7 February 2024.

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Photo of Emma Harper Emma Harper Scottish National Party

4. To ask the Scottish Government what discussions it has held with South of Scotland Enterprise regarding any preliminary analysis of the outcome of its recently implemented four-day working week pilot. (S6O-03057)

Photo of Neil Gray Neil Gray Scottish National Party

The aim of the four-day working week public sector pilot is to assess the environmental health and wellbeing benefits and efficiency gains that a four-day working week could bring. The pilot will ensure that meaningful insights are gained into the benefits and risks of a four-day working week approach.

The Scottish Government has held one high-level discussion with South of Scotland Enterprise on the future interim evaluation of its four-day week pilot. The meeting did not cover details of the results, as the interim evaluation is still pending completion and analysis by SOSE and Autonomy, which is the expert partner organisation.

Photo of Emma Harper Emma Harper Scottish National Party

I met the SOSE leadership team on Friday last week and heard how the pilot is already beginning to boost staff morale, increase productivity and contribute to greater wellbeing in the workplace. Will the cabinet secretary comment on the ways in which the Government is working with business to show the evidence on whether a four-day working week is beneficial?

Photo of Neil Gray Neil Gray Scottish National Party

Conversations with business employer organisations on a more flexible approach to the employment market continue. We hold forums, including through the new deal for business group, to look at the economic impacts of a more flexible labour market approach. We also look at its impact on the trading environment of those organisations, as the approach could provide them with access to a wider pool of potential employees because of the greater flexibility that it could offer. Obviously, commercial decisions will be made by individual employers, but those discussions will continue.

Photo of Ivan McKee Ivan McKee Scottish National Party

What additional costs will SOSE incur from its limited budget as a consequence of implementing the policy? What assessment has been made of how much it would cost were the policy to be implemented across the entire Scottish Government and its agencies?

Photo of Neil Gray Neil Gray Scottish National Party

I note Ivan McKee’s long-standing interest in this area. SOSE has not incurred any direct costs from volunteering to participate in the pilot. There are small staffing costs related to the time that is devoted to engagement with Autonomy, which is the expert partner supporting the work. The pilot will ensure that meaningful insights are gained on the benefits and risks of a four-day working week approach but, as it is a pilot, no assessment has been made of the cost to implement the policy across other public sector bodies, including the Scottish Government.