IT’S been announced that the Scottish Government plans to bring in a four-day working week for some public sector workers with trials due to begin later this year.

Although not explicitly mentioned in his address to Holyrood on Monday, the pledge is in Humza Yousaf’s (below) Programme for Government (PFG).

The PFG states that the Scottish Government will “commence the four-day working week public sector pilot by the end of this calendar year, to assess the wellbeing, environmental, and productivity benefits the four-day working week could bring.”

According to the 4 Day Week Campaign, the system does not necessarily mean a person will only work four days.

The National: Humza Yousaf at Holyrood for his Programme for Government

Instead, 32 hours of work could potentially be spread over more days in order to help employees achieve a healthier work-life balance.

Here’s some of the countries across the world which are already using the system.


At the beginning of 2022, the Belgian government announced a reform package that gives workers the right to work four days rather than five without officially losing their salary.

Under the scheme, workers are still expected to maintain the same amount of hours over four slightly longer days rather than five and receive an extra day off to compensate this.

However, employers can still turn down a request for a shortened week, on condition they submit their refusal in writing and do so for solid reasons.


From 2015 to 2019, Iceland led one of the largest four-day workweek pilots to date, with around 2500 people participating.

The trial was considered an “overwhelming success” among researchers, with employees reporting improved well-being, work-life balance and productivity.

In 2022, workers represented by unions in Iceland - close to 90% of the workforce – have won the right to request a shorter workweek.

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However, uptake in the private sector has remained slow with many organisations placing the onus on the individual to negotiate for worktime reductions instead of offering the four-day week as an automatic benefit.


Major companies in Japan, including Microsoft and Panasonic, have already piloted four-day working weeks.

Others have implemented it permanently, including banking giant Mizuho and tech firm Cross River with their CEO being a “vocal advocate” for the system.

According to a report from Payscale, the share of companies offering a four-day working week reached the 10% threshold for the first time last year.

South Africa

More than 500 employees at 28 companies are participating in South Africa’s trial of a four-day working week.

The experiment is being run by 4 Day Week South Africa, with 28 companies and more than 500 employees involved.

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The experiment uses what’s known as a 100-80-100 model whereby workers receive 100% of the pay for working 80% of the time but still delivering 100% of their usual output.

Has anyone in Scotland adopted the policy?

The Scottish Greens and all their staff have adopted a four-day working week and reported positive results.

“If we want to build a fairer and greener economy with good jobs, sustainable work, fair wages and economic security then we need to be prepared to make big changes and think big”, said MSP Maggie Chapman.