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Three Day Weekends for All

This Bill Would Make the Four-Day Workweek a Federal Law in the US

byMaggie Harrison Dupré
3.12.23, 9:31 AM EDT
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It only makes sense.

32 Hours

California Congressman Mark Takano has reintroduced a bill that would make four-day workweeks a federal mandate, something that would bring about "a significant change which will increase the happiness of humankind," as Takano told CNBC.

"Workers across the nation are collectively reimagining their relationship to labor — and our laws need to follow suit," Takano said in March 1 statement. "We have before us the opportunity to make common sense changes to work standards passed down from a different era."

If the bill were to pass, employers would be required to start paying overtime the second that the hour log hits 33, which would not only ensure that workers are fairly paid for longer hours, but would also incentivize employers to hire more people.

White Collars Rejoice

The four-day workweek has been a buzzy topic for several years now, with its proponents claiming that shortening weekly work hours promotes focus and productivity while meanwhile helping workers maintain a healthier work-life balance.

And there's proof it does just that. Earlier this year, scientists concluded the largest four-day workweek trial, and found it to be a resounding success.

But one central criticism of the idea has emerged: that the movement is mostly helpful for salaried white-collar workers, while those who work hourly and blue-collar jobs in industries like service and manufacturing get woefully left behind.

While Takano did admit to The Washington Post that ensuring equal compensation for fewer hours — especially for hourly laborers — is the 32-hour workweek's biggest hurdle, his bill does include non-exempt workers, and according to the WaPo has garnered the support of labor organizations like the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), Service Employees International Union, and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.

In other words: the bill's provisions aren't 100 percent airtight, but it's a step in the right direction.

"The serious conversations about the reduced workweek are happening for white-collar professions," Takano told CNBC's Make it. "What my bill will do is spur conversation about how we democratize this norm to other sectors of the workforce so everybody benefits."

"That's a very big statement," he added. "But it was a big deal 100 years ago when we gave people the weekend by passing the Fair Labor Standards Act," referring to the law that, among other things, cemented the 40-hour workweek as standard in the US.

"These," Takano continued, "are all part of the social justice discourse."

READ MORE: This bill could make the four-day workweek a reality [The Washington Post]

More on the four-day workweek: The World's Largest Four Day Work Week Trial a Huge Success

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