Proposed US Act Would Shorten Workweek

The reintroduced bill follows the positive results of the UK’s 4 Day Week Global trial.

March 21, 2023

U.S. Rep. Mark Takano of California recently announced that he has reintroduced a bill into Congress that would establish a shorter workweek for Americans.

The proposed Thirty-Two Hour Workweek Act would reduce the standard workweek from 40 hours to 32 hours by amending the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and lowering the maximum hours threshold for overtime compensation for non-exempt employees. 

In the press release, Takano stated that the legislation “would improve workers’ quality of life, meeting the demand for a truncated workweek that allows room to live, play, and enjoy life more fully outside of work.”

The bill has been endorsed by 4 Day Week Global, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), the National Employment Law Project (NELP), and the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC).

In June 2022, nonprofit organization 4 Day Week Global, initiated the largest trial to date to examine the benefits of a shorter workweek. More than 3,000 workers from 70 different companies within the United Kingdom received 100% of their pay for working 80% of their usual week, in exchange for promising to maintain 100% of their productivity.

The results, published in February, revealed that 71% of the employees who worked less hours had decreased their level of burnout, 40% saw a reduction in sleep difficulties, and 54% were less likely to feel too tired to do household chores. Both resignations and absenteeism decreased during the pilot program, as did the need to hire new employees. More than 90% of the companies who participated have decided not to return to the old five-day model.

“This act reflects the growing movement towards reduced working hours,” said Dr. Dale Whelehan, 4 Day Week Global CEO. “Emerging research is making the irrefutable case that a four-day week results in positive benefits for organizations, people, and society.”

According to the release, the Thirty-Two Hour Workweek Act does not make any changes or limit the number of hours that an employee may work in a standard workweek but amends the definition of the workweek in federal law. Most workers impacted would be non-exempt, hourly workers, but some salaried workers would fall under the scope of the bill’s provisions.

“Workers across the nation are collectively reimagining their relationship with labor—and our laws need to follow suit,” Takano said. “We have before us the opportunity to make common sense changes to work standards passed down from a different era.”

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