If we can get as much done in a shorter amount of time, with a clear head and minimal stress levels, why shouldn’t we? We should all love our jobs, and many of us luckily do, but we still need to live full and active lives outside of the office. Many believe that the trick to living a rounded and satisfying life is the implementation of a four-day workweek.
Putting employees first
California State Assemblymember Cristina Garcia proposed a bill that would set the state’s official workweek at 32 hours for companies with more than 500 employees. Any time an employee works after that would get them time-and-a-half pay by law, and a workday going past 12 hours would necessitate double pay.
This would apply to about 20 percent of the state’s workforce.
“After two years of being in the pandemic, we’ve had over 47 million employees leave their job looking for better opportunities,” Garcia said. “They’re sending a clear message they want a better work-life balance — they want better emotional and mental health, and this is part of that discussion.”
Does cutting hours mean cutting jobs?
Some critics, such as the California Chamber of Commerce, say that this would be a job killer, that it would increase the cost of labor and make hiring more expensive.
Cities around the world, though, would disagree. Countries like Belgium, Japan, Scotland, Iceland, and Spain have seen the benefits of a four-day workweek in their employees’ boosted productivity and reduced stress, and many plan to make their pilot programs permanent. Garcia also asserts that large companies can afford to pay their employees the increase after they’ve had their most profitable quarter since the 1950s.
While there have been shorter workweeks implemented by certain companies, there hasn’t been major, effective legislation passed to see workers’ hours and stress reduced. California’s bill might be the first legal move we’ll see toward a major work change in the United States.