Could America soon have a 4-day workweek? The latest on federal law

Another bill to reduce the federal 40-hour workweek was introduced to Congress earlier this month by Democratic Rep. Mark Takano, representing California’s 39th District.

“Workers across the country are collectively rethinking their relationship to work — and our laws must follow suit,” Takano said in a press release. “We have an opportunity to use common sense to make changes to labor standards handed down from another era.”

The standard 40-hour workweek was first introduced in 1938 and is known as the Fair Labor Standards Act. The new 32-hour workweek law reinstated by Takano would not only shorten the standard workweek for non-exempt workers, but also require overtime pay of one-and-a-half the standard wage rate for every hour worked in excess of 32 hours – something the Society of Human Resource Management would not like to see.

The bill was initially backed by Democratic Representatives Pramila Jayapal and Jan Schakowsky to go to committee in 2022, but the bill drew backlash from SHRM for its one-size-fits-all approach, which would limit flexibility from workers and employers.

“Happily, there are better ways to improve employee work-life integration and to attract and retain top talent,” said Emily M. Dickens, SHRM’s CEO and head of government affairs, in a 2022 statement SHRM show that 32 percent of companies already offer a compressed work week. Others have introduced flextime, shift work, part-time work and job sharing. This flexibility, which varies depending on the industry and size of the organization, would be at risk.”

If implemented, Takano said, it would actually encourage job competition and give workers bargaining power to get better benefits. It is also expected to coincide with the refocusing of Americans on family over work that has taken place in recent years, allowing people “to live, play and enjoy life to the fullest outside of work.” “, he said.

The non-profit 4 Day Week Global is sponsoring pilot programs like those in the UK and supporting the bill Takano tabled – along with several other organizations and individuals.

“This law reflects the growing movement towards short-time work. New research provides irrefutable evidence that working a 4-day workweek leads to positive benefits for organizations, people and society,” said Dale Whelehan, CEO of 4 Day Week Global, in a statement.

Heidi Shierholz, President of the Economic Policy Institute, agreed, adding in a statement: “This law would help protect workers from the harmful effects of overwork by recognizing the need to redefine standards around the workweek .”

“Reducing Americans’ standard hours of work is key to a healthier and fairer society,” concluded Shierholz.

The reduction in hours worked has been quite a trend as tested in the UK with results of increased productivity, lower turnover rates and greater job satisfaction.

The bill is currently in committee.


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