Officials said the move presents an ‘opportunity’ to reduce spending on salaries (Picture: Getty)

Scottish public sector workers could be offered a four day week in exchange for a pay cut as part of plans to reduce the cost of the civil service.

Documents published alongside this week’s SNP spending review, which outlined the need to plug an estimated £3.5 billion black hole, said the move presents an ‘opportunity’ to reduce spending on salaries.

Officials said they want to explore ‘non-pay’ benefits of a reduced working week, including the ‘right to disconnect’ by working one day less.

‘In the longer term, this could be an opportunity to limit the cost burden of pay awards to employers,’ the document said.

However, Scottish Conservatives branded the plan a ‘fantasy’ and said it would reduce public services by 20%.

Meanwhile, trade unions said it was ‘insulting’ and ‘ill-thought through’.

Scottish Tories have criticised the plan (Picture: Getty)

Cat Boyd, the national officer for the PCS union which is campaigning for a four-day week in the public sector without a loss of pay, told The Telegraph: ‘Our members shouldered the burden of austerity in 2010.

‘Now, we’re seeing threats of further pay cuts for the workers who helped keep Scotland running during the pandemic.

‘A shorter working week has been shown, through independently commissioned research, to improve productivity and wellbeing without requiring a reduction in pay.

‘Any reduction to the working week which cuts pay reverses the economic and workforce benefits.

‘Any proposal which includes a further loss of pay coupled with a cut in hours represents more broken promises from the Scottish Government when it comes to their own staff.’

Scotland has already pledged £10million pounds to private companies trialling four-day weeks where workers retain their pay levels.

A similar public sector scheme is set to be rolled out later this year, with details not yet published. 

Kate Forbes, the SNP finance secretary, has insisted that continued growth to public sector staffing levels is ‘not sustainable’.

But Liz Smith, the finance spokeswoman for the Scottish Tories, described the plans as ‘cavalier economics’ that would derail public services post-pandemic.

She said ‘SNP ministers are determined to press ahead with this nonsense’, which would further increase the spending black hole.

Separately, Boris Johnson has ordered 90,000 job cuts to the civil service in England to free up cash amid a cost of living crisis.

In a letter to staff ahead of the Platinum Jubilee bank holiday weekend, the prime minister apologised for the uncertainty the cuts would cause but said that new and better opportunities would result from ministers’ long-term ambitions for the civil service.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected].

For more stories like this, check our news page.