The concept of a 4-day workweek might shift from a utopian dream to reality in the near future as Congressman Mark Takano reintroduces his 32-hour workweek bill. This new legislation would trim 40-hour workweeks to 32 hours and compensate workers for overtime. With the concept gaining momentum around the globe, Takano believes it’s high time to revaluate the outdated Fair Labor Standards Act—which hasn’t been updated since 1940. While this may not shorten workweeks, it may improve pay, and employee well-being while getting more people into the job market.
“For too long, our country has prioritized corporate profits over working people and Americans have been forced to work longer hours, sacrificing time with loved ones. While policies enacted by President Biden and Democrats have finally started to raise wages for workers across multiple industries, it’s vital that health, well-being, and basic human dignity are valued over employers’ bottom lines. Establishing a 32-hour work week would go a long way toward finally righting that balance,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus in a statement. “And as new data from a recent pilot program show, the 32-hour work week is not only good for workers—it’s good for companies too. I’m proud to join my Progressive Caucus colleagues in supporting Rep. Takano’s bill and look forward to continuing the fight together to put power back into the hands of working people as we ensure every worker has good benefits, better conditions, and an equal voice on the job.”
Takano’s bill has already been endorsed by the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the National Employment Law Project (NELP), and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW).
While the pandemic brought a tidal wave of catastrophes, it did give rise to flexible working hours and shattered the notion that working remotely reduced productivity. Businesses and governments around the world, including Ireland, Spain, Iceland, New Zealand, and Canada, have piloted 4-day workweek programs with highly positive results. Reports have shown up to a 40% increase in productivity, reduced sick days, and lowered unemployment rates and workers have cited an improved sense of well-being. In some cases, studies have shown a correlating drop in environmental impact.
In the last two years, more countries and companies have been experimenting with shorter work weeks, even in countries with a notorious hustle culture like Japan. Spearheading the revolution is the 4-Day Work Week Global. The non-profit organization works alongside think tank Autonomy and researchers at various institutions, including Cambridge University, Boston College, Oxford University. Funds raised through the foundation are channeled into research around workplace practices, the future of work and well-being. The data is collected and analyzed to design a healthier modern economic system for the modern world.
Pilot programs of the 4-Day Work Week have already been rolled out in the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand. This 6-month trial works as a coalition with companies and governments, where 8 hours of work are removed without any reduction in pay. During this trial period, organizations will have unparalleled access to the expertise, tools and resources to carry out the test. There’ll be training, mentoring, networking and researching involved in the process, all of which will be used to further improve practices.