Are we going to see the introduction of a 4 day week in Ireland?
Why is there so much talk of a 4 day week?
The idea of a 4-Day week was previously considered a radical idea but it has become more mainstream in recent years. Recent weeks have seen a new pilot programme for employers to test the effectiveness of a four-day working week for staff with no loss of pay has been launched today. This 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. Four Day Week Ireland is comprised of representatives from trade union Fórsa, ICTU, the National Women’s Council, Friends of the Earth Ireland, and academics.
What is included in their plan?
Under the 4-Day week plan, organisations interested in trialling it 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 2022 and will also run in several countries, including the US, the UK, and New Zealand, coordinated by the Four Day Week Global group.
Have any high-profile companies embraced a 4-day week in the West of Ireland?
Galway-based ICE Group were the most high-profile advocate of the 4-day week when they introduced it in 2019 following a successful trial period. Two years on and what was initially a pilot is now the standard way of work, with increases in productivity, happiness, and customer satisfaction.
Is a 4-Day week feasible?
Ideas like annual leave, maternity, paternity leave, flexitime and even Working from Home were once seen to be radical and are now the norm. Leo Varadkar said upon launch of the new pilot programme for employers to test the effectiveness of a four-day working week: “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…we need to keep an open mind when it comes to innovations in the world of work.”
From New Zealand to Spain, the idea of a 4-day week has been steadily gaining ground globally. Hailed by its proponents as a means to increase productivity and improve the mental health of employees, the proposal has taken on new significance as the pandemic sharpens issues around wellbeing, burnout, and work-life balance. It will be interesting to see what conclusions the Government-funded research results in.