Irish employers urged to introduce four-day working week for employees next year
The pilot includes business supports and advice that will help organisations explore flexible working.
A new pilot programme has been launched for employers to trial the effectiveness of a four-day working week.
Under the pilot programme, employers will introduce a four-day week for their employees over a six-month period starting in January 2022.
Organised by the Four Day Week Ireland campaign, the pilot includes business supports and advice that will help organisations explore flexible working.
Also as part of the pilot, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications has announced they will fund a research partnership to assess the economic, social, and environmental impacts of a four-day working week in a specifically Irish context.
The researchers will examine the impact of a shorter working week on private sector companies and public sector employers as they pilot a four-day week over six months.
Up to €150,000 will be made available to support this research, which will explore the impact of a shorter working week on productivity, well-being, job satisfaction, environmental footprint and household division of labour.
Chairperson of the Four Day Week Ireland campaign Joe O’Connor said in a statement: “In the last year we have seen radical shifts in our working practices. More flexible ways of working are here to stay.
"This year has also given people a chance to reflect on what they value most and how they want to manage their working lives, and so now is absolutely the right time to rethink, review and change the way we do things, and move to a four-day week.
"We know from international research that a shorter working week doesn’t mean a loss in productivity – in many cases, it is the opposite.
"Employers who have already introduced a four-day week have found that a shorter working week can benefit their employees physical and mental health, as well as bringing broader benefits to society, including by reducing carbon emissions and supporting gender equality."
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar also said on the topic: "It’s too early to say whether a four-day working week could work in Ireland. The idea is ambitious, to achieve the same outcomes and productivity, for the same pay with 20% fewer hours worked.
"I can see how that might work for some roles but it’s hard to see how it would work in others particularly in health, education and manufacturing for example.
"But we need to keep an open mind when it comes to innovations in the world of work. Ideas like annual leave, maternity and paternity leave and flexitime were once seen to be radical and are now the norm.
"This research being commissioned by the government will give us a much greater understanding of the potential of this idea and that’s why the department has agreed to co-sponsor it."
For more information about the four-day week pilot, see here.