How will it work?

Our medium term objective is to move towards the four day week being the standard work arrangement across the economy, with no loss of pay. As with the five day week today, it will not be the only work arrangement – For some sectors, employments and workers, different variances of reduced working hours and a shorter working week will need to co-exist alongside the benchmark of the four day week.

We do not mean that everyone will have a ‘three day weekend’ – Strong management and clever rostering will need to ensure that businesses and public services can function for 5 or in some cases even 7 days, alongside a shorter working week for all workers. This can be achieved through a combination of the following necessary interventions:

  • Labour market competition – Public demand and business leadership
  • Strong trade unions and collective bargaining
  • Government influence and public contracting

 Why do we need it?

We want to start a public conversation in Ireland on the case for reduced working hours. We want to change the false narrative that working long hours is good for productivity and a badge of honour, challenge the worst excesses of the ‘work-first, always-on’ culture, and champion the importance of family time, leisure time, caring work and community work.

We have seen big changes in the ways we work and live. Technology has removed barriers to new ways of working, and employers have seen the benefit of allowing for flexibility among their workforce. These changes are leading to more efficient working practices, now and in the future. We must make sure that these changes work for workers, their families and communities.

Benefits

Better4business

There is no correlation between working longer hours and greater productivity. The evidence of both international academic research and business case studies in recent years would suggest the opposite. The four day week has led to more focused, energised and happier workers from Galway to New Zealand, with many companies who have trialled or introduced the four day week reporting an increase in productivity and profitability.

Better4workers

Throughout history, sharing advances in productivity and technology with workers in the form of working time has been a core demand of the trade union movement. There is a huge desire among workers for greater control over their working hours in order to better balance all aspects of their lives. This is partly due to concerns for the mental and physical health of workers. A four day week is an idea whose time has come. Trade unions won us the weekend, and the 8 hour day, and together we can win the four day week.

Better4women

A four day week would be particularly beneficial to women, allowing better distribution of caring responsibilities between mothers and fathers. While currently women still do the majority of care work, reduced working time will allow men to spend more time with their families and take on more caring responsibilities. This in turn can remove barriers to women achieving senior positions in work, and allow women to take on more training opportunities. Alongside a better work life balance, a four day week would also lead to reduced commuting time and reduced childcare costs for women and families.

Better4environment

Research suggests that moving to a four day week would reduce carbon emissions by around a fifth, through cutting back on commuting and energy use in buildings. The transition to a zero pollution future is not a cost to the economy but rather an opportunity to value what really matters to us. In the context of climate change, the transition to a four day week is one of many radical actions we need to take quickly to protect our increasingly fragile environment.

Better4health

A shorter working week supports people to take better care of their health and wellbeing. Having more time to lead an active lifestyle and cultivate positive behaviours like taking more time for oneself can have a big impact on improving both physical and mental health. Healthier and happier workers are also better for productivity and better for public health. Staggering working days can also help to avoid overcrowding in offices, making our workplaces safer.

Who we are?

Four Day Week Ireland is run by a campaign coalition of trade unions, businesses, environmentalists, women’s rights and civil society organisations, academics, health practitioners and global advocates.

Four Day Week is a global campaign and an international movement. We are working closely with our partners at 4dayweek and 4dayweek UK to bring the movement to Ireland. 

The composition of the Four Day Week Ireland steering group is representative of each of these pillars, and its current membership is as follows

  • Joe O’Connor, Director of Campaigning, Fórsa Trade Union (Chairperson)
  • Orla O’Connor, Director, National Women’s Council of Ireland
  • Oisín Coghlan, Director, Friends of the Earth Ireland
  • Felim McDonnell, Director, ICE Group
  • Aileen O’Carroll, Researcher, Maynooth University & Policy Manager, Digital Repository of Ireland
  • Aidan Harper, Researcher, New Economics Foundation & 4 Day Week Campaign UK
  • Charlotte Lockhart, Chief Executive Officer, 4 Day Week Global
  • Laura Bambrick, Social Policy Officer, Irish Congress of Trade Unions
  • Kevin Donoghue, Lead Organiser, Fórsa Trade Union