- Under a new proposed bill, 3.6 million people in California could move to a four-day workweek — without having to make up for it with longer hours and wage cuts.
- State assembly member Cristina Garcia, one of the bill’s co-authors, has argued that a 32-hour workweek would help companies attract and retain employees.
- A recent survey by Digital.com found that 62% of businesses are moving toward a four-day work week.
A four-day work week has been proposed in a new California bill. This bill would mean that companies with over 500 employees would only have to work four days (32 hours) a week.
Under the bill, professionals that work longer than 32 hours will have the right to time-and-a-half pay, while any work going beyond 12 hours a day or seven days a week will see double pay.
Many four-day week initiatives are aimed predominantly at office workers, rather than other parts of the workforce such as those in service industry jobs. This proposed California bill would affect all non-exempt employees.
Dennis Consorte, Small Business Consultant, says he believes it shouldn’t have to take a bill to be passed to have the option of a four-day work week.
“I don’t understand why the government of California needs to control the length of the work week. Employers and workers should be free to negotiate whatever terms they both agree to, in terms of compensation, days worked, and other factors,” Consorte said.
While the proposed bill is still many steps away from becoming law, if passed, it could affect more than 2,000 businesses.
“This is not going away,” said Evan Low, a Democratic California State Assembly member who co-wrote the bill. He added that workers coming out of the pandemic prize flexible schedules, and some companies competing in a tight labor market are adapting.
While critics say the four-day work week will create complexity and incur additional costs for employers, its supporters point to improved worker well-being in four-day week trials – even leading to higher productivity.
State assembly member Cristina Garcia, one of the bill’s co-authors, has argued that a 32-hour workweek would help companies attract and retain employees, while encouraging women who left the workforce during the pandemic—and especially working mothers—to return.
It’s unclear whether the bill has any chance of being passed, but if enacted, the law would mark the first change to the definition of the standard 40-hour workweek in the United States since 1926. The Legislature has until August 31st to pass measures, and Governor Newsom has until September 30th to sign or veto bills.
Although five-day work weeks have been ingrained into work culture for nearly a century, employees have gained new insight into flexibility over the last few years.
The assumption that fewer hours spent working means that less work is done is incorrect; productivity can be increased through working time reduction. Countries around the world that have passed or experimented with their own four-day workweek legislation have seen optimistic results.
Iceland’s shorter work week trial was seen as an “overwhelming success” that led 8 in 10 employees to shift to this type of schedule.
Workers in Belgium were recently granted the right to complete their work week in four days rather than five, without a loss in pay.
It’s unclear as to whether America will completely adopt this type of shorter workweek, but the concept of it is definitely becoming more popular.
A recent survey by Digital.com found that 62% of businesses are moving toward a four-day work week. The survey asked 1,300 U.S.-based business owners if they plan to explore this revolutionary option, and found that:
- 27% of business owners have already switched to a four-day work week
- An additional 35% are considering making the move to a four-day work week
- Of those who haven’t yet switched but plan to, 86% say the change will happen in 2022
Well over half of the business owners surveyed are in support of the four-day workweek.
In the case of businesses whose employees are either fully or mostly remote, 34% of business owners say they’ve already begun the four-day workweek.
Dennis Consorte said, “Practically any business can make the shift towards a shorter work-week. Focus on the value that people create, rather than the hours that they work. If you’ve got engaged workers who deliver value, then it doesn’t matter how many hours they work, when they work, or where they work.”
Of the 35% of business owners who are considering the switch, 84% say they believe implementing a four-day workweek will help somewhat (48%) or a lot (36%) to give them an advantage over their competitors.
61% say increasing employee satisfaction is a motivator for considering or implementing a four-day workweek, and 53% also say they aim to reduce employee burnout and turnover.
“The four-day week challenges the current model of work and helps companies move away from simply measuring how long people are ‘at work,’ to a sharper focus on the output being produced. 2022 will be the year that heralds in this bold new future of work,” said Joe O’Connor, pilot program manager for 4 Day Week Global.
Even if the government does not mandate it, in the wake of the Great Resignation, organizations might want to embrace the four-day week as a way of retaining staff and attracting new talent.