In California, the state Assembly has crafted a law that “would create a four-day workweek for companies with more than 500 employees. Assembly Bill 2932 would shorten the standard workweek from 40 hours a week to just 32 hours.”
Additionally, the bill would prevent companies from reducing the amount employees can earn, and would require employers to compensate their employees for hours worked past the 32-hour mark at an overtime rate of time-and-a-half. “Work stretching past 12 hours a day or into seven days a week would be paid at double their normal wage…[but, t]he bill would not cover workers who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement,” CBS reports.
Democratic Assembly Members Cristina Garcia (Bell Gardens) and Evan Low (San Jose) co-authored the bill. As Garcia told the Los Angeles Times, “We’ve had a five-day workweek since the Industrial Revolution…but we’ve had a lot of progress in society, and we’ve had a lot of advancements. I think the pandemic right now allows us the opportunity to rethink things, to reimagine things.” Garcia added, “We’ve seen over 47 million people voluntarily leave their jobs for better opportunities. We’re seeing a labor shortage across the board from small to big businesses…And so it’s very clear that employees don’t want to go back to normal or the old way, but to rethink and go back to [something] better…They are looking for a healthier work/life balance. They want to feel less stress.”
Another Democrat from California, Congressional Representative Mark Takano is advocating for similar policy “changes under the Fair Labor Standards Act…[a]t the federal level.” Last year, Takano introduced a bill, the Thirty-Two-Hour Workweek Act, which the Congressional Progressive Caucus supports. After introducing the legislation, Takano said, “A shorter workweek would benefit both employers and employees alike…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.”
Other countries have already implemented this policy—Iceland has with much success, and “Japan’s government has recommended it as a national policy.” Other countries in Europe including Spain, Belgium, and Ireland, have also decided to follow Iceland’s lead, and have piloted a four-day workweek.
In The Grapes of Wrath, author John Steinbeck wrote, “Why don’t you go on west to California? There’s work there, and it never gets cold.” The next California exodus might be underway if this bill ends up being passed, and California would be the first state in the U.S. to have codified a four-day workweek into law. Several companies in the United States have already transitioned over to the four-day work week and have seen“positive results. Bolt and Buffer, two tech companies that have joined the four-day revolution, reported the majority of their employees felt they had a greater work-life balance and did not struggle to complete their work over the shortened week. And a massive pilot program across North America has 38 different companies taking part in their own four-day workweek pilots.”