In the early 1900s, workers decided to take a break from their daily backbreaking labor on Saturdays and Sundays to relax–hence, the birth of the 5-day workweek. Now, more than 100 years later, California legislators are aiming to cut it even shorter.
This week, it was reported the California Assembly will consider legislation that would change the definition of the workweek from five eight-hour days to four at companies with more than 500 employees. Additionally, employees who work more than 32 hours a week would be guaranteed overtime under the legislation.
The bill was written and introduced by Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D) and Assemblyman Evan Low (D).
“We’ve had a five-day workweek since the Industrial Revolution,” Garcia told the Los Angeles Times. “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.”
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reported that as of 2019, 23% of organizations had implemented a four-day workweek, in which operations partially close for at least 72 hours. ZipRecruiter reported postings that mention a four-day workweek have tripled in three years, as Forbes pointed out.
It has been suggested that employees are more productive and have a higher level of work-life balance with four-day workweeks. The Hill reported that a five-year trial in Iceland found productivity remained stable or rose at most workplaces, and studies have taken place in Spain and New Zealand.