California state lawmakers have introduced a bill that would make the Golden State the first in the US to introduce a four-day workweek.
Bill AB 2932 would make the workweek in the state 32 hours at companies with more than 500 employees. Workers who go beyond that threshold would be entitled to higher raises and time-and-a-half pay. The regular workday would still be eight hours long.
The bill states that going more than 12 hours beyond the 32-hour cutoff would require double pay to be issued and workers wouldn’t have their pay decreased for working less than 32 hours. But the bill wouldn’t include workers under a collective bargaining agreement, USA Today reported.
Democratic State Assemblymembers Cristina Garcia and Evan Low proposed the bill last week. On the federal level, a similar bill is being put forward under the Fair Labors Standards Act.
Ms Garcia told the Los Angeles Times that the idea for the proposed law came during the pandemic when many workers left their jobs, and started working from home, in search of a better quality of life.
More than 47 million Americans quit their jobs last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“We’ve had a five-day workweek since the Industrial Revolution,” Ms Garcia told the paper. “But we’ve had a lot of progress in society, and we’ve had a lot of advancements. I think the pandemic right now allows us the opportunity to rethink things, to reimagine things.”
The bill would impact almost 2,600 companies in the state. The California Chamber of Commerce said the proposal would be a “job killer” and that it would make hiring more expensive.
But other countries that have tried a 32-hour workweek have seen higher rates of productivity. A January study said the 40-hour workweek has been tiring out workers. Iceland has instituted a four-day workweek and the Japanese government has recommended that it be made a national policy.
“The fact of the matter is many other companies are already doing this, and other countries too, so I think this is the direction we’re going,” Mr Low told the LA Times. “This is going to attract more (employees) to your company, because it’s undisputed workers are looking for more flexibility.”
Figures from the Intergovernmental Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) show that US employees are working more hours each year compared to those in most other industrial countries – almost 1,800 hours a year on average.
The Labor and Employment Committee is currently reviewing the law and a hearing date hasn’t yet been set.