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Four-day week ‘could bring revolution’ that would help climate and cut childcare costs


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A four-day week is not about lazy workers wanting more time off, an Oireachtas committee will be told today.

Politicians will hear that doing four days’ work for five days’ pay would bring a host of benefits, including lower childcare costs.

The chairperson of the Four-Day Week Ireland Campaign, Joe O’Connor, will also say a four-day week could cause a potential revolution in gender equality and help the struggle against climate change.

He will call for a gradual transition to a shorter working week in all sectors of the economy. He will say the medium-term objective is for this to become the new default work arrangement, with no loss of pay.

“Our campaign seeks to challenge the ‘always-on’ culture that has crept in to aspects of the Irish economy, which lionises long hours as a perverse badge of honour, and to shift public, political and media narratives about working time reduction,” he will tell the joint Oireachtas Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

“A shorter working week is not about lazy workers wanting more time off, as some might have you believe. It is a business improvement strategy centred on working smarter rather than longer, and investing in the wellbeing of the most important asset to any business – their people.”

Mr O’Connor’s submission says a four-day week has been successfully adopted by a range of companies in Ireland, including software developers 3D Issue in Donegal, SCL Sales, Access Earth, JMK Solicitors, and recruitment firm ICE Group.

It says the Four-Day Week Ireland campaign will roll out a six-month trial next year in which 17 companies will participate.

Mr O’Connor wants engagement to take place “at the earliest possible opportunity” to identify “targeted, discrete pilot areas” within sections of the public and civil service to participate in the pilot programme.

He will say academic studies show there is no correlation between working long hours and greater productivity.

He will also say a four-day week is working for huge numbers of businesses worldwide, including a long-running trial in Iceland that includes offices, playschools, and hospitals, and at Microsoft Japan.

His statement notes that tech start up Bolt and crowdfunding platform Kickstarter announced plans to introduce a four-day week in the US. Mr O’Connor will say there is a body of international evidence, business case studies and academic research showing it is good for business, workers families and the environment.

He claims studies show it can significantly reduce carbon emissions and make a huge contribution to the struggle against climate change. He will quote research from a Swedish university that projects reducing the average working week to four days would deliver a reduction in emissions of 16pc.

“Many companies who have trialled or introduced the four-day week report happier, more focused employees, and critically higher productivity. They have experienced reduced employee burnout, stress, sick leave, absenteeism, and turnover.”

He says the concept is based on the principle of a 100-80-100 model – 100pc of the pay, 80pc of the time, but crucially in exchange for 100pc of the productivity.

Four-Day Week Ireland was formed in 2019, and includes unions, businesses, environmentalists, women’s representatives and academics.

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