Is a 4-day workweek coming? What to know about latest attempt at federal law in Congress
WASHINGTON – Progressive Democrats are renewing a push to make four-day workweeks federal law, with lead sponsor Rep. Mark Takano of California saying the change will give Americans more time "to live, play, and enjoy life more fully outside of work."
Takano introduced a bill earlier this month that would reduce the standard workweek from 40 hours to 32, effectively ending the traditional five-day cycle.
The legislation follows a shift in workplace trends after the COVID-19 pandemic influenced conversations about what the future of work may look like.
"Workers across the nation are collectively reimagining their relationship to labor – and our laws need to follow suit," Takano said in a statement.
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How Congress bill would create four-day workweek
Takano's legislation, the Thirty-Two Hour Workweek Act, would amend the definition of the workweek in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. It would require overtime pay at a rate of time and half for any employee who works more than 32 hours in one week.
The proposal would apply to non-exempt workers who are typically paid hourly in industries like leisure and hospitality, transportation, construction, manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade. Some salaried workers also would meet the bill's provisions.
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Democratic Reps. Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Jan Schakowsky of Illinois co-sponsored the legislation alongside Takano. The Congressional Progressive Caucus, which Jayapal chairs, also endorsed the bill.
“For too long, our country has prioritized corporate profits over working people and Americans have been forced to work longer hours, sacrificing time with loved ones," Jayapal said in a statement.
What would a four-day workweek mean for employers?
The proposed bill would mean employers must compensate employees for hours accrued beyond 32 or face gaps in staffing that would require hiring more workers.
According to a release from Takano's office, the proposed bill would create more labor market participation and allow employees to negotiate for increased wages and working conditions.
More than 70 British companies have started to test a four-day workweek, and halfway through the six-month trial, most respondents reported there has been no loss in productivity.
U.S. workers work 200 hours more a year than workers in other developed countries, according to a release from Takano's office.
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Could a four-day workweek become law?
Takano, a member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, introduced similar legislation in 2021, but it was not voted on in the House or Senate.
It is unlikely Takano's bill would garner enough support this Congress to pass both chambers, with Republicans leading the House.
"We have before us the opportunity to make common-sense changes to work standards passed down from a different era," Takano said. "The Thirty-Two Hour Workweek Act would improve the quality of life of workers, meeting the demand for a more truncated workweek that allows room to live, play, and enjoy life more fully outside of work."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Can California Rep. Mark Takano's 4-day workweek bill pass Congress?