Will there be a 4-day work week? What to know about the latest attempt at federal legislation in Congress
WASHINGTON – Progressive Democrats are renewing a push to make four-day work weeks into federal law, with lead sponsor Mark Takano of California saying the change will give Americans more time “to live, play and enjoy life more fully outside of work.”
Takano introduced a bill earlier this month it would reduce the standard workweek from 40 hours to 32, effectively ending the traditional five-day cycle.
The legislation follows a shift in workplace trends after the COVID-19 pandemic affected conversations about what the work of the future might look like.
“Workers across the nation are rebuilding their relationship with labor—and our laws must follow suit,” Takano said in a statement.
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How the congressional bill would create the four-day work week
Takano’s legislation, the Thirty-Two Hour Workweek Act, would change the definition of the workweek in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. It would require overtime pay at a rate and a half for any employee who works more than 32 hours in a week .
The proposal would apply to non-exempt workers who are typically hourly paid in industries such as leisure and hospitality, transportation, construction, manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade. Some civil servants would also meet the bill’s provisions.
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Democratic representatives Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Jan Schakowsky of Illinois co-sponsored the legislation with Takano. The Congressional Progressive Caucus, which Jayapal chairs, also endorsed the bill.
“For too long, our country has prioritized corporate profits over working people, and Americans have been forced to work longer hours and sacrifice time with loved ones,” Jayapal said in a statement.
What would a four-day working week mean for employers?
The proposed bill would mean employers would have to compensate workers for extra 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.
More than 70 UK companies have recently started testing a four-day working week for employees and halfway through the six-month trial, most respondents reported no loss in productivity.
American workers work 200 more hours a year than workers in other developed countries, according to a release from Takano’s office.
More: Will your remote job stay that way?
Could a four-day working week become law?
Takano, a member of the House Education and Workforce Committee, introduced similar legislation in 2021 but it was not voted on in the House or the Senate.
Takano’s bill is unlikely to gain enough support this Congress to pass both chambers, with Republicans leading the House.
“We have before us the opportunity to make common sense changes to labor standards carried over from another era,” Takano said. “The Thirty-Tour Work Week Act would improve workers’ quality of life and meet the demand for a shorter work week that leaves room to live, play and enjoy life more fully outside of work.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Can the California Rep. Mark Takano’s 4-Day Work Week Bill Pass Congress?