A few days ago I noted that there were a growing number of politicians around the world— in Canada, Chile, Japan, Korea, Scotland, and elsewhere— talking about the benefits of a 4-day week.
Yesterday, this reached the US House of Representatives: Rep. Mark Takano, joined by Reps. Rashida Tlaib, Jan Schakowsky, and Chuy Garcia, “introduced legislation that would reduce the standard workweek from 40 hours to 32 hours by lowering the maximum hours threshold for overtime compensation for non-exempt employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).”
The press release goes on to say:
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. Shorter workweeks have also been shown to further reduce healthcare premiums for employers, lower operational costs for businesses, and have a positive environmental impact in some of these studies.
I haven’t seen the legislation yet, so it’ll be interesting to see the details. I also have absolutely no idea whether it stands any chance at all of getting a committee hearing this term; this kind of big reform bill often takes time to acquire sponsors and get the attention of leadership. (40-hour workweek legislation took years to get through Congress.) And there’s a lot that will need to be ironed out about overtime pay, vacations, etc.
But even if it goes nowhere this year, it’s really notable that American politicians would see this as a winning issue, especially given that the UK Labour Party got hammered over its support of a 4-day week just a couple years ago, and that we’re going into an election cycle that promises to be pretty bruising.
The ground really is shifting!