More than a dozen Irish companies have joined an international pilot scheme aiming to introduce a four-day working week. 

A total of 17 Irish companies have signed up for the Four Day Week Ireland campaign, which presented its plans for the pilot scheme to the Oireachtas Committee on Enterprise, Trade, and Employment on Wednesday. 

The pilot program in Ireland is being run in collaboration with similar programs around the world, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand. 

The trial program aims to explore the effectiveness of a four-day working week and encourages employers to trial a shorter working week over a six-month period starting in February 2022. 

Participating employers will have access to supports to assist the transition to a four-day working week, including a training program developed by companies already operating a four-day work. Participating companies will also receive coaching and mentoring from businesses with experience of shorter working weeks. 

Trade union Fórsa, which is leading the campaign in Ireland, says that a four-day working week is about working smarter. 

Fórsa General Secretary Kevin Callinan told Newstalk that the four-day model aims to produce 100% productivity in 80% of a regular five-day working week. 

"That is what has been proven to work. That is the idea of the trial – to show how this can actually make a real difference that benefits employers and staff but also, in doing so, is better for the economy is better for society, and is better for the environment," Callinan told Newstalk. 

Callinan encouraged any employer who is considering trialing a four-day working to get in touch with Fóras and said that the initiative would have no impact on productivity. 

"We are looking forward to supporting the employers already signed up on their journey to a Four Day Week, and we are encouraging those who are considering participating in the trial to get in touch with us." 

He said that a significant number of companies needed to trial a four-day working week before an accurate economical assessment can be made. 

However, the Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC) told the Oireachtas committee that a four-day working would not work because it is too costly and complicated to implement. The group said that a transition to a four-day week would also cause disruption for customers and clients. 

Earlier this year, Dublin City Councillors unanimously backed plans for a four-day working week pilot program for council workers.