SAN DIEGO – Rep. Mark Takano, a Southern California lawmaker, proposes changing the typical five-day work week to four days in a bill that’s gaining support from some of his colleagues in Congress.
Takano has been promoting his Thirty-Two Hour Workweek Act since last year, saying Americans are looking for a “new normal” after a pandemic that put many things into perspective.
The proposed legislation wouldn’t ban 40-hour work weeks altogether, but it would require employers to pay their workers overtime once they’ve worked 32 hours.
“They want greater flexibility in the work weeks but they don’t want diminishing capacity to earn,” Takano said of the post-pandemic workforce.
Many Americans have quit their jobs and gone into completely new fields. Takano says the 32-hour week will help level the playing field for businesses across industries.
“It is going to make it easier for small businesses, medium-sized businesses, larger businesses to all compete for the labor pool,” he said.
4 Day Week Global, a nonprofit company, has been helping several companies transition into the four-day work week in recent years.
“A lot of those companies are turning to the four-day work week because they see it as a vehicle of maintaining output while still making their employment more attractive,” said Joe O’Connor, pilot program manager with the organization.
O’Connor says companies that have transitioned have been able to keep their best employees happy while attracting better candidates, and that workers tend to be more efficient when they know every hour counts. Rather than seeing productivity drop when eliminating a day from the week, companies have seen workers actually get more done, the organization says.
As for Takano’s bill, it has gained an endorsement from the Congressional Progressive Caucus but has a ways to go for winning over more moderate and conservative members of Congress. Takano couldn’t say when it would be considered for a vote in the House of Representatives, but he said he’s glad the conversation is gaining momentum.