Almost half of employers say four-day week trial is ‘feasible’

Shorter working week, with no loss of pay, is supported by majority of adults

Almost half of employers say it would be "feasible" to trial a four-day week in their workplace amid enthusiasm for the idea across the population, according to a new survey released by the Four Day Week Ireland campaign.

Some 77 per cent of people surveyed on behalf of the group by Behaviour & Attitudes said they supported the idea of the Government exploring the introduction of a four-day week, with two-thirds saying they believed it was “realistic and achievable” in the medium term.

Two-thirds of employers also said they supported the Government in examining the feasibility of a four-day week, which the survey defined as “same job, same goals, same salary, but over four days rather than five”. Support for this prospect was strongest among younger adults and people working full-time.

Almost half of employers – 46 per cent – said the trialling of a four-day week in their own workplace was "feasible". The survey results were published ahead of a special online public briefing by Four Day Week Ireland today.

“Close to half of employers see this as feasible in their own workplace, which is very encouraging, while a substantial majority believe the Government should explore this concept,” said Joe O’Connor, director of campaigning with the Fórsa trade union, which is part of the group.

“The four-day week, with no loss of pay, offers the potential of a genuinely better future for workers and employers alike.”

‘Pleasantly surprised’

Mr O’Connor said the campaign group – which is a coalition of trade unions, businesses, women’s rights and civil society organisations and others – was “pleasantly surprised” by the support expressed by many employers and the openness of some employer representatives to the idea.

“It’s clear employers recognise the productivity potential of a four-day week, while some employers have already taken the first steps with very promising results,” he said.

The coronavirus pandemic has further disrupted workplace norms, illustrating the potential for very different models of work, Mr O’Connor added.

"We are now urging the Oireachtas Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Employment to commission an expert report on the feasibility of a four-day working week in Ireland, and consult with key stakeholders on this as part of their work programme."

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery is an Irish Times journalist writing about media, advertising and other business topics