Further evidence of benefits of four day work week must be catalyst for change

21 February 2023

Labour workers’ rights spokesperson Marie Sherlock has welcomed the news that British companies trialling a four-day working week have decided to continue with the practice.

Senator Sherlock said:

“The world of work is rapidly changing and all the evidence suggests that we are ready for our next step in securing a better work life balance for people – the introduction of a four day week.

“In 2019, Labour’s Ged Nash called for an expert group to be convened her in Ireland to examine how a four day week could be achieved in an Irish context. With 92% of companies that engaged in a four day work week pilot in the UK opting to maintain the practice, the time for Ireland to enter the 21st century world of work is now.

“A four day work weeks make sense for all – boosting companies’ profits while, critically, improving the work life balance of workers.

“As we move closer and closer to full employment, we have to look at the pressures on workers, especially younger workers and examine how our current laws can be changed to benefit workers, society and industry. As a society, we have reaped enormous benefits from the overnight shift to flexible and remote work due to the pandemic.

“A four day week is crucial to address the gender inequalities that remain in our workplaces. Right now, 30% of women workers are in part time work, compared with just over 10% of men part-time workers. If we are serious about trying to challenge gender inequalities in the workplace and addressing the gender pay gap, a four day work week must be seriously on the cards.

“While we await for the absolute and immediate right to flexible work to become law, we need to examine all ways we can make work more productive and ensure family life and society benefits from advances in technology.

“We have seen communities throughout the country thrive during the pandemic, with many young people opting to leave the cities and return home. As well as improving their quality of life, this contribution to local economies has been clearly felt. At a time when government remains disinterested in resolving the extortionate cost of renting in our cities, a four day work week coupled with flexible work could be the key to enabling a thriving society and economy.”

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