Four-day working week programme launched in Ireland

Four-day working week programme launched in Ireland

"WE INVENTED the weekend a century ago. It's time for an update."

A pilot programme examining the positives of a four-day working week in Ireland will be launched today, as part of the rapidly-growing 'better4everyone' campaign from Four Day Week Ireland.

The six-month experiment will test the benefits of a four-day working week with the aim of delivering consistent output with no loss of pay, with Four Day Week Ireland promising it can deliver positives for both employers and employees.

The programme will see participating organisations and businesses receive support, training and mentoring, and the Irish Government will fund a call for research into the impacts of how an official four-day week would work in Ireland, RTÉ News reports.

While the programme launches today, the pilot itself will begin in January; the US, UK and New Zealand will also take part.

Director of Campaigning for Forsa, Joe O'Connor, announced the launch on social media yesterday, writing that the pilot would "herald a major milestone on the journey to transforming work practices for the better, for good."

"We invented the weekend a century ago," he added. "It's time for an update."

Forsa, Ireland's biggest public service union, has been a vocal supporter of a four-day working week, having agreed the initiative at a conference in November 2020.

The union, which represents more than 80,000 workers in Ireland,

agreed there should be a "steady and managed transition to a shorter working week for all employees in the private, public and community sectors".

The meeting also concluded that remote working in Ireland should continue to be developed as a feasible arrangement, during and after the Covid-19 pandemic, as it improves work-time flexibility which they say is beneficial to workers, employers and the economy.

One Irish company, Donegal-based 3D Issue, implemented a four-day working week in 2020 after staff unanimously chose the initiative over a 20% pay rise.

CEO Paul McNulty told The Irish Post that while the scheme took a lot of time and research before it could be implemented, it has absolutely been worth it.

"Everyone comes to work refreshed now after their 3-day weekend, and more enthused about their work. And as a bonus, we are just as productive as we were on a 5 day week.

"Everyone seems delighted with the initiative and happier in their work and in themselves."

The CEO added that he had introduced the 4-day week "primarily as a thank you to the team", but also in the hopes that the shorter week would boost job satisfaction, raise productivity and staff morale, and keep staff turnover as low as possible.

This too, he says, has been accomplished.

"No one has left the company since we switched to a 4-day week," he told The Irish Post.

"And, funnily enough, we now get 10 times the applicants that we would normally get when we advertise a job. People are looking for more flexibility, for more balance. I think the pandemic has made people take stock. "

He added that he thinks the 4-day week will eventually become the norm in Ireland, and that 3D Issue were simply "early" in introducing it.