Four-day working week trial launches for employees in Ireland

23 June 2021, 10:30 | Updated: 23 June 2021, 10:42

Ireland is trialing a four day working week
Ireland is trialing a four day working week. Picture: Getty Images

Employers in Ireland are trialing a four-day working week, with experts hoping Brits could be next.

Employers in Ireland are testing out a four-day week under a new programme.

As part of the pilot programme, which is run by Four Day Week Ireland, companies will reduce the working week for their employees over a six-month period.

This would start next year in January 2022 and include support for the businesses taking part and will offer advice to help them move to more flexible working.

Employees in Ireland could get a new way of working
Employees in Ireland could get a new way of working. Picture: Getty Images

Joe O’Connor, chairman of the Four Day Week Ireland campaign said: “Employers who have already introduced a four-day week have found 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.

“For businesses hungry for talent, a shorter working week can provide a competitive edge.”

Joe added: "We know from international research that a shorter working week doesn’t mean a loss in productivity – in many cases, it is the opposite.”

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“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.”

But Deputy Head of the government Leo Varadkar has dashed hopes of the country making a permanent move to a shorter week.

He previously said: "My department has not conducted research on the impact of moving to a four-day week, and it is not something I am currently considering."

This comes after it was reported Spain could become one of the first countries in the world to trial the four-day working week.

A four day working week is being trialled in Ireland
A four day working week is being trialled in Ireland. Picture: Getty Images

Earlier this year, the Spanish party Más País announced that the government had accepted its proposal to test out the idea.

“With the four-day work week (32 hours), we’re launching into the real debate of our times,” said Iñigo Errejón of Más País on Twitter, adding: “It’s an idea whose time has come.”

And Brits could be next to enjoy a longer weekend following the pandemic, according to a government workplace tsar.

Chairman of the government's Flexible Working Taskforce, Peter Cheese, said the government should use this opportunity to ‘adapt conventional employment traditions’.

He said that flexible working could become the "norm, not an exception" and the pandemic was a catalyst to more of a balance between work and home lives.

He told Politico: "There are a variety of mechanisms by which you can support people in these more flexible ways of working, which can be helpful in terms of inclusion and wellbeing and balance of life.

"What we refer to as the standard five-day working week, that's what will begin to change. And it could emerge in lots of different forms, one of which could be a four-day working week.”