Congressman wants to introduce a 32-hour workweek law in the US to “increase the happiness of mankind”

The four-day work week is as noisy as ever, and one California congressman wants to make it federal law.

Rep. Mark Takano, representing California’s 39th district, resubmitted to Congress his 32-Hour Workweek Act, which, if passed, would formally reduce the standard definition of the workweek from 40 to 32 hours by amending the Fair Workweek Act. labor standards.

His proposal would include overtime pay for any work done after 32 hours, which would encourage businesses to either pay workers more for longer hours or shorten their workweek and hire more people.

The bill covers non-exempt workers who typically work hourly hours in the leisure and hospitality, transportation, construction, manufacturing, wholesale and retail industries.

This is by design, Takano told CNBC Make It. “Serious talk of a shorter work week is being made for white-collar occupations. My bill will spur conversation about how we democratize this norm for other sectors of the workforce so that everyone wins.”

New worker protections could ‘increase the happiness of humanity’

Takano first presented the law to Congress in 2021. It was approved by the Congressional Progressive Group, circulated online, but ultimately failed to gain promotion in Congress.

Takano says he is passionate about the 32-hour work week to bring about “significant changes that will increase the happiness of humanity. This is a very important statement. But it was a big deal 100 years ago when we gave people a weekend away as we walked past the Fair.” Labor Standards Act, which established a 40-hour workweek and created other measures to protect workers. “This is all part of the social justice discourse,” he says.

Supporters say the shortened week will force businesses to hire more people, increase labor market participation and create “healthier workplace competition that will allow workers to negotiate higher wages and working conditions,” Takano’s team said in a statement.

The resubmission of the bill in Congress followed headlines about the success of the global pilot program and new proposals circulating in Maryland.

Nearly 3,000 UK workers across 61 companies recently completed a six-month reduced week pilot run by the non-profit 4 Day Week Global. Businesses reported improvements in productivity, income, morale, and team culture, while people saw benefits to their health, finances, and relationships.

Last year more than 900 employees at 33 sites in the US and Ireland completed the same program, and none of them are going back to the five-day model.

Critics fear a one-size-fits-all approach

Not everyone agrees with the 32-hour workweek law. When asked to comment, a spokesman for the Society for Human Resource Management referred to CNBC Make It’s previous statement against similar legislation passed by the California Assembly last year.

Critics oppose the law because of its “universal approach,” writes Emily M. Dickens, chief of staff and head of government affairs at SHRM. Dickens continues that such a bill creates significant logistical challenges for HR professionals and could exacerbate shortages, raise labor costs and make life difficult for “a lot of businesses trying to recover from the worst days of the pandemic.”

Now that the 32-hour workweek law is back in Congress, Takano says the next step will be to “get more and more people to understand the case for it, get business leaders and employees who have seen the positive effects of a shorter workweek.” “. work week and start reducing anxiety about change.”

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