A majority of the public (75%) believe a four-day week would be desirable for employees, and almost half of employers (46%) believe a four-day week trial would be feasible in their workplace according to a new survey.
Research conducted by Behaviour & Attitudes (B&A) last month on behalf of Fórsa/FourDayWeek Ireland showed that two out of three respondents believe a four-day week is “realistic and achievable.”
In the survey, a four-day working week was described as “same job, same goals, same salary but over four days rather than five.”
Just over three-quarters (77%) of the more than 1,000 surveyed said they would support the Government exploring the potential introduction of a four-day week. Among employers, more than two out of three (67%) supported this.
Factoring out undecided respondents, the survey result shows that more than 80% of those expressing an opinion feel it is a realistic and achievable ambition and 93% would favour a trial. Younger adults and those working full-time were most enthusiastic about the concept of a four-day working week.
Joe O’Connor, director of campaigning with Fórsa trade union and chair of the Four Day Week Ireland steering committee said the survey results demonstrated a significant public appetite for a shorter working week in Ireland.
“The four-day week, with no loss of pay, offers the potential of a genuinely better future for workers and employers alike.”
He said it is “very encouraging” that close to half of employers see this as feasible: “It’s clear employers recognise the productivity potential of a four-day week."
"Some employers have already taken the first steps with very promising results,” he added.
ICE Group, a Galway based recruitment firm, has been operating a four-day working week for more than a year. Director of ICE Group, Margaret Cox said, “Given our own experience in ICE Group with the success of the four-day initiative, I believe Ireland is incredibly well placed to lead Europe and the world in making a real change in the way business runs."
Fórsa and Four Day Week Ireland are now asking the Oireachtas Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Employment to commission an expert report on the feasibility of a four-day working week in Ireland.
Four Day Week Ireland is a campaign coalition of trade unions, businesses, civil society organisations, academics and health practitioner.
The campaign has been backed by both environmental organisations and women’s rights groups who both believe a transition to a four-day working week could help their cause.
According to Orla O’Connor, director of the National Women’s Council, a four-day working week would allow for better distribution of caring responsibilities between women and men.
“Reduced working time would allow men to spend more time with their families, to take on more caring responsibilities, and this would help remove barriers to women achieving senior positions in work, and allow women to take on more training opportunities,” she said.
From an environmental standpoint, Friends of the Earth director Oisín Coghlan believes a four-day working week could reduce pollution.
“As we live with the virus, and ultimately move beyond it, there is an opportunity to continue to embrace ideas that boost productivity, reduce pollution and increase wellbeing. The four-day week is one of those ideas,” he said.