SCOTLAND’S political parties have been urged to send a “very strong message” to businesses by including plans for a four-day working week in their election manifestos.

Advice Direct Scotland said there was already “strong public support” in Scotland for the policy, of which the “positives far outweigh any negatives”.

With parties contesting the May 6 Holyrood election due to unveil their manifestos in the coming weeks, the organisation, which brought in a four-day working week for its own staff in 2018, urged political leaders to consider the policy.

It stressed there are benefits for businesses as well as employees in making the change.

Advice Direct Scotland said absenteeism had fallen by more than 75% since it brought in a reduced working week.

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Meanwhile, a report last year found 70% backed a four-day week, with only 8% opposed or strongly opposed to the idea.

Andrew Bartlett, chief executive of Advice Direct Scotland, said: “The four-day week has been shown to work in the places where it has been tried, and the idea has strong public support in Scotland.

“It is well established in productive and efficient economies like Norway and Denmark and looks set to be introduced in New Zealand too.”

He added: “This isn’t about businesses just giving staff a free day off each week. We know from our own experience that staff are far happier and more productive as a result of the four-day week, and that absenteeism has fallen significantly.

“There is much to be gained for businesses which adopt a four-day week. For those which can make it work, they will soon find the positives far outweigh any negatives.

“By including this in their manifestos ahead of the May vote, Scotland’s political parties can send a very strong message to businesses of all sizes about the value of this approach.”

Nicola Sturgeon has also expressed her support for the idea, telling the Holyrood chamber in May last year that it will be important not to slip into “old and bad ways of doing things” as the economy recovers from Covid.

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She added: “That is one reason, not the only reason, why we need to look at different working patterns.

“Things like a four-day week are no longer things that we should just be talking about, these are things we should be encouraging employers to look at embracing, and there are a whole range of things that fall into that category.”

Spain has recently announced plans to allow a modest pilot of the four-day work week for interested companies.

With a €50 million fund backing the project, companies will be able to trial the reduced working hours with minimal risk to profits.

Politicians in the country argue that the fund would allow around 200 companies, for a total of around 3000-6000 workers, to participate.