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Four-day Workweek Bill Introduced

New legislation proposes reducing overtime pay threshold from 40 hours to 32 hours

August 2, 2021

U.S. Congressman Mark Takano (D-Calif.) introduced legislation last week that would reduce the standard workweek for Americans from 40 hours to 32 hours.

This proposal would allow non-exempt employees to receive overtime compensation for any hours worked over 32 hours.

“I am introducing this legislation to reduce the standard workweek to 32 hours because—now more than ever—people continue to work longer hours while their pay remains stagnant. We cannot continue to accept this as our reality,” Takano said in a press release about the legislation. “Many countries and businesses that have experimented with a four-day workweek found it to be an overwhelming success as productivity grew and wages increased. After the COVID-19 pandemic left so many millions of Americans unemployed or underemployed, a shorter workweek will allow more people to participate in the labor market at better wages.”

This bill would impact all workers that are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA). This includes most private and public sector employees that receive an hourly wage and does not include independent contractors, gig workers, and some domestic workers.

Pilot programs run by governments and businesses across the globe have shown promising results as productivity climbed and workers reported better work-life balance, less need to take sick days, heightened morale, and lower childcare expenses because they had more time with their family and children. Shorter workweeks have also been shown to further reduce health care premiums for employers, lower operational costs for businesses, and have a positive environmental impact in some of these studies.

“As workers become more and more productive, we deserve better pay and more time off,” said Richard Trumka, president of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO). “Reducing overall working time without any reduction in pay—through shorter workdays and a four-day workweek—makes all the sense in the world because it spreads work hours to more workers and minimizes unemployment. This could be a key mechanism to help ensure that the benefits of technological progress are shared broadly by working people.”

This bill has been endorsed by 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).

 

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