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Tom’s Takes: 32-Hour Workweek Gaining Traction in Washington

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Volume 3, Issue 2

On March 13, 2024, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), announced support of H.R. 1332 which would amend The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. The bill proposes a 32-hour workweek in the US, down from the current 40-hour workweek. The proposed reduction in hours would occur over three years as follows:

  • A 38-hour workweek not less than 180 days after the date of the enactment of the “Thirty-Two Hour Workweek Act” through the end of the first year
  • A 36-hour workweek during the second year
  • A 34-hour workweek during the third year
  • A 32-hour workweek following the completion of the third year

In Sanders’s press release announcing support of H.R. 1332, he stated, “Moving to a 32-hour workweek with no loss of pay is not a radical idea. Today, American workers are over 400 percent more productive than they were in the 1940s. And yet, millions of Americans are working longer hours for lower wages than they were decades ago. That has got to change. The financial gains from the major advancements in artificial intelligence, automation and new technology must benefit the working class, not just corporate CEOs and wealthy stockholders on Wall Street. It is time to reduce the stress level in our country and allow Americans to enjoy a better quality of life. It is time for a 32-hour workweek with no loss in pay.”

Additionally, provisions of the Act specify workers would receive time-and-a-half for working more than eight hours per day. Working beyond 12 hours per day would result in double-time pay.

The U.S. would not be the first country to consider this option as several other countries have working weeks of less than 40 hours. These include Belgium with its four-day workweek, France with its 35-hour workweek, and Norway and Denmark at 37 hours.

In 2023, the United Kingdom tested a 4-day workweek program comprised of over 60 companies and 3,000 employees. Key results of the study included:

  • Over 73% of employees reported greater satisfaction with their work
  • 35% increase in average revenue for businesses that participated
  • 91% of businesses elected to continue the 4-day workweek

Tom’s Take

“The idea of a workweek less than 40 hours is an issue that should continue to be evaluated at the local, state and national levels. Companies should consider putting together plans to test this within their own organizations, creating financial, operational and human resource key performance indicators to monitor and measure the results achieved.

The UAW had already positioned a 32-hour working week in their contract negotiations that occurred in 2023. I anticipate this to be a major talking point when the existing contract expires on April 30, 2028, which could then be the impetus for large-scale implementation across the entire supply chain spectrum of manufacturing, distribution, transportation and retail.“

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