A new pilot programme for employers to test the effectiveness of a four-day working week for staff with no loss of pay is being launched today.
The six-month experiment is being organised by the Four Day Week Ireland campaign, which claims it can deliver positive results for business and work/life balance for employees.
“In the last year we have seen radical shifts in our working practices. More flexible ways of working are here to stay,” said Joe O’Connor, Chairperson of the Four Day Week Ireland which is comprised of representatives from trade union Fórsa, ICTU, the National Women’s Council, Friends of the Earth Ireland and academics.
“The launch of the four-day week pilot programme represents an exciting moment of change for employers and employees, and it’s up to the business community now to show that they are willing to lead and support this change for the better.”
Under the plan, organisations will receive supports, training and mentoring on how to make the concept operate smoothly.
The Government is also to fund a call for research to assess the economic, social, and environmental impacts of a four-day working week in a specifically Irish context, as part of the plan.
The pilot will begin in January and will also run in a number of countries, including the US, the UK and New Zealand, coordinated by the Four Day Week Global group.
In other countries, including Spain and Scotland, four-day working weeks have already been developed and are being trialled.
The movement believes the last year has provided workers and employers with an opportunity to consider the way they work, leading many to rethink and alter how they do things, including the possibility of moving to a four-day week.
It can also bring physical and mental health benefits and improve a business’s sustainability credentials.
“We know from international research that a shorter working week doesn’t mean a loss in productivity – in many cases, it is the opposite,” Mr O’Connor said.
According to the campaign, a number of businesses have already tried a four-day working week, including Donegal based 3D Issue.
3D Issue Chief Executive Paul McNulty said: “When we offered the four-day work week, it was in the form of a bonus to our staff.
“At the time, we did not necessarily think that reducing staff hours would lead to an increase in sales and productivity, yet it did.
“Our staff are happier, more refreshed and more engaged in their work,” he added.