A new pilot programme for employers to test the validity of a four-day working week for staff with the same pay was launched yesterday.
Under the programme, employers will introduce a four-day week for their employees over a six-month period starting in January 2022. The programme includes business support that will help organisations explore flexible working.
The six-month experiment is being organised by the Four Day Week Ireland campaign, which believes this initiative will deliver positive results for both employers and employees.
Cork Business Association president Eoin O’Sullivan said his members have reservations about the plan. “Our members in retail and hospitality say that it won’t work for their sectors as they would need more staff and costs will go up. Professional services or tech could be accommodated. We have changed so much in the last 12 months, so to go to a four day week in such a short space of time I would say it is too much too fast.”
To coincide with the programme the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications have announced they will fund a research partnership to assess the economic, social, and environmental impacts of the programme.
The researchers will examine the impact of a shorter working week on private sector companies and public sector employers. The research will explore the impact of a shorter working week on productivity, wellbeing and environmental footprint.
Tánaiste and Minister For Enterprise and Employment Leo Varadkar said: "The idea is ambitious, to achieve the same outcomes and productivity, for the same pay with 20% fewer hours worked. It’s hard to see how it would work in health, education and manufacturing. This research will give us a greater understanding of its potential."