The Four-Day Week Ireland campaign has launched a new pilot programme to trial the effectiveness of reduced working time. The programme will offer resources to employers who agree to pilot a four-day work week.
The pilot programme, which will run in a number of countries including Ireland, the USA, Britain and New Zealand, will support employers who introduce a four-day week over a six-month period starting in January 2022.
It will give business supports, advice and mentoring to help organisations engaging with the scheme explore flexible working smoothly and successfully, as well as a training programme developed by companies who have already successfully implemented a four-day week.
The programme will also encourage collaboration with other participant companies in Ireland and internationally, and give access to world-class academic research and expert analysis on the impact of the four-day week.
Accompanying the pilot, an international petition was also launched to mobilise hundreds of thousands of workers worldwide to join the call for a four-day week and to make Ireland part of the global campaign.
Speaking to Morning Ireland at the launch of the program, Fórsa General Secretary Kevin Callinan said: “We need to emerge from the pandemic with better lives, better work and working conditions and a better planet and the move to the four-day week is a huge step in that direction. The pilot will provide real evidence that this is the direction we need to go once we emerge from the pandemic.”
Kevin also said the Government also had a role in promoting the four-day week, and that the campaign wanted to see them increase their involvement and stake, as well as encouraging more in the public sector to adopt it.
Fórsa campaign director Joe O’Connor, who chairs the Four-Day Week Ireland campaign, said the launch represented “an exciting moment of change” for employers and employees, and that it was “not realistic” for continued productivity gains and technological advancements not to result in reduced work time.
“Covid has shown us that a new way of working is possible. A century after we invented the concept of a five-day week, we're not going back to business as usual,” he said.
Major Government-backed pilot programmes of the four-day working week are already being developed in Spain and Scotland, and the four-day week has been successfully introduced in a growing number of companies worldwide, including here in Ireland.
“Employers who have introduced a four-day week find 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,” said Joe.
Meanwhile, two Government departments have announced funding for research into the economic, social, and environmental impacts of a four-day working week specifically in an Irish context.
This follows the development of a significant international collaborative research partnership between Four-Day Week Ireland, University College Dublin and Boston College.
The research will examine the impact of a shorter working week on productivity, wellbeing job satisfaction, the environment, and the household division of labour. Up to €150,000 will be made available to support this research.
The Four Day Week Ireland campaign includes Fórsa, the National Women’s Council, Friends of the Earth Ireland, academics, and a number of Irish businesses including ICE Group and 3D Issue.
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