Four-Day Workweek To Become Official United States Law In 2023?
California Representative Mark Takano re-proposed the 32-hour workweek that, if passed, will guarantee non-exempt workers three days off per week and overtime for any hours worked that exceed the 32-hour threshold.
After almost two years of preparation, a California representative has reintroduced the 32-hour Workweek Act, a proposed federal bill that would shorten the usual 40-hour workweek to a four-day workweek. Although the bill failed to pass in 2021, when it was first proposed, Rep. Mark Takano of California is hopeful that two more years of research, data compilation, and expert opinions will help it succeed this time. While many businesses and executives are opposed to the change, most U.S. workers are in favor of moving to a four-day workweek and having a three-day weekend every week.
According to Fatherly, the bill would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to change the hourly definition of a standard workweek to 32 hours. While most employees would benefit from a four-day workweek, this bill, if it passes, will specifically apply to non-exempt workers, or those who often work jobs where they get paid hourly—think retail, construction, hospitality, transportation, wholesale, manufacturing, and leisure. Takano wanted to target these professions specifically because he says they are most at risk of being overworked and underpaid and, under the proposed bill, would be paid mandatory overtime for any hours worked over the new standard of 32 hours.
Takano says that many white-collar industries are already moving toward four-day work weeks, but that conversation hasn’t yet been extended to blue-collar industries or hourly-paid professions. The proposed bill would make sure that essential workers would be a part of a societal move to a four-day workweek, rather than being left behind. Businesses, according to Takano, would be forced to either pay workers more for the additional hours worked or switch to the four-day workweek and hire more employees.
Takano previously introduced the four-day workweek bill in July 2021, with plenty of evidence and data to back the bill up, but it didn’t make it past Congress. But in the nearly two years since the first proposal, dozens of businesses have launched four-day workweek pilot programs, with nearly all seeing the shift as a success. All the data points to the fact that shorter workweeks are better for both employees and businesses, as happy, healthy employees are more productive and happier to be at work.
Over 30 businesses in the U.S. and Ireland tried switching to a four-day workweek last year and found the change so successful that none are returning to the five-day workweek model. Research shows that a shorter workweek leads to higher productivity among employees, improved work-life balance, less sick days taken, and an overall improved attitude toward work. Though the benefits might seem, on the surface, to benefit only employees, research shows that satisfied employees do better work and do more of it, not to mention that they’re more likely to stay with the business.
While the four-day workweek still has a long way to go before becoming law, the idea of a shortened workweek is gaining popularity in the U.S. and abroad. And while it might not become federal law, several states are working to make the four-day workweek state law, so look into California, Pennsylvania, and Maryland if you’re looking to move to a place with a shorter workweek. Everyone loves a three-day weekend—here’s hoping it becomes a weekly affair!