Melville responds to cost-of-living crisis with move to 4-day week

Monday December 19th 2022


Kirsten Dean, Melville’s Head of Finance and Corporate Services.

Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Luke Jackson

Dalkeith-based Melville Housing Association has become the first registered social landlord (RSL) in Scotland to announce plans to adopt a 4-day working week as a partial solution to the worsening cost-of-living crisis.

In plans approved by Melville’s Board and backed by 65% of tenants, from the start of the new year (1 January 2023) Melville staff will no longer work on Fridays while retaining full pay. The switch to a 4-day week will initially be on a 12-month trial basis but will become permanent as long as performance levels are maintained.

The benefits seen elsewhere of a 32 hour 4-day week (down from a 35 hour 5-day week) include a better work-life balance, reduced stress levels, improved mental and physical health and a more sustainable lifestyle.

“Melville, like many other employers, is in a very difficult position just now,” said Kirsten Dean, Melville’s Head of Finance and Corporate Services. “Everyone knows how tough things are for customers and staff alike however we simply don’t have the money to make salary increases in line with sky-high inflation, not without passing the cost on to tenants or slashing budgets elsewhere.

“The solution we arrived at is one that is being successfully trialled elsewhere but that hasn’t yet been adopted by a Scottish RSL. It rewards staff for their hard work and dedication not with money but time. It’s not a perfect solution but it’s a compromise that both staff and customers support. We’ll be putting in place measures to ensure that we maintain our high service levels and we’ll be monitoring performance closely throughout the year.”

Tenants can already make payments, report repairs and check their rent accounts 365 days a year at but Melville will also be working to improve digital services throughout the year. The normal repairs service (not the out of hours service) will continue to operate on Fridays meaning customers will still be able to arrange appointments and book in routine repairs.

“All of us on the Board are proud of this innovative solution to a difficult problem,” said Melville Chair Donna Bogdanovic. “This year, more than ever, it’s been tricky balancing the needs of customers against the needs of staff, but there was just no way we could propose a rent increase anywhere near inflation and neither do we want to drastically reduce services. This solution will allow us to keep any rent increase to a minimum while helping staff get through these challenging times.”

Melville is the first RSL in Scotland to trial a 4-day week but not the first in the UK. Causeway Irish, a London-based housing association, was among the first to adopt the new working practice in 2017 and has found it to be overwhelmingly positive, leading to benefits including increased productivity and reduced staff sickness.

Visit to find out more about the benefits of the 4-day week.

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