4-day workweek bill reintroduced in California

Could a four-day workweek be in our future? Possibly. 

Congressman Mark Takano reintroduced a bill earlier this month that would reduce the standard workweek from 40 hours to 32, thus terminating the traditional five-day work cycle.

Takano's legislation, the Thirty-Two Hour Workweek Act, would amend the definition of the workweek in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. It would require overtime pay at a rate of time and half for any employee who works more than 32 hours in one week. 

"Workers across the nation are collectively reimagining their relationship to labor – and our laws need to follow suit," said Rep. Mark Takano. "We have before us the opportunity to make common sense changes to work standards passed down from a different era. The Thirty-Two Hour Workweek Act would improve the quality of life of workers, meeting the demand for a more truncated workweek that allows room to live, play, and enjoy life more fully outside of work."  

The proposal would apply to non-exempt workers who are typically paid hourly; some salaried workers also would meet the bill's provisions.

The proposed bill would mean employers must compensate employees for hours accrued beyond 32 or face gaps in staffing that would require hiring more workers. 

According to a release from Takano's office, the proposed bill would create more labor market participation and allow employees to negotiate for increased wages and working conditions. 

"This legislation has the potential to increase wage-earning opportunities for a larger number of workers by limiting the number of hours required to reach the full-time threshold, as well as allow for better work-life balance and overall health outcomes," according to a statement on the bill from Takano's office.

The bill is endorsed by several organizations including the Economic Policy Institute and the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations. 

On average, U.S. workers work 200 hours per year than workers in other developed countries, according to a statement released by Takano. 

"The question of a shortened workweek is a productivity issue for employers and a quality-of-life issue for employees that branches into spheres beyond just work; healthcare, education, and childcare are all affected by the number of hours employees spend at work."

Other countries have explored the idea of a shorter workweek. Iceland tested a 35-36 shorter work week and studies showed it was an "overwhelming success." 

A trial of a four-day workweek in Britain, billed as the world’s largest, has found that an overwhelming majority of the 61 companies that participated from June to December will keep going with the shorter hours and that most employees were less stressed and had better work-life balance.

Japan, known for its long work hours, unveiled plans to recommend companies permit their staff to work four-day weeks as part of the government’s effort to improve work-life balance.

To read more about the bill, tap or click here.