California has proposed shortening the work week for companies with 500 employees or more. If the new bill passes, the work week will cut to 32 hours instead of 40 hours. Workers would receive time-and-a-half if they work more than 32 hours in a week, as well as double their original wages if they work more than 12 hours a day, or more than 7 days a week. If put into effect, hourly wages could raise by 25%.
Shortened Work Week Benefits
The shortened work week aims to create a work-life balance, which many are seeking after the pandemic. A four-day work week would help employees maintain good mental, physical, and emotional health. As the current labor shortage continues, workers demand a better balance between personal and work-life. There are currently several companies that have begun implementing a shortened work week.
On the other hand, the proposal was deemed a “job killer” by the California Chamber of Commerce. They believe it will cost companies more money as well as lead to a decrease in available jobs. However, the bill would simply shorten the work week by regulating overtime pay.
In the House, progressive democrats have already proposed a similar bill. For non-exempt employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the maximum limit for overtime pay to kick in would lower under the proposed bill. Representative Mark Takano states that after the pandemic, we should not go back to standard working conditions similar to before the pandemic. He states that even before the pandemic, “normal wasn’t working”.
Before the pandemic, many became consumed with work. They spent less time with loved ones and it took a toll on the overall health of many workers. This new shortened work week would help workers prioritize other areas of their life. Workers’ health and well-being should be put first and work-life balance should be prioritized.
Implications of Shortened Work Week
Many unions have already expressed support of the bill. The bill should also minimize unemployment, a growing problem throughout the pandemic. On the other hand, many companies have expressed disinterest. Due to the labor shortage, some companies would need to hire new employees to keep up with a shortened work week. Many also believe the bill would lead to an involuntary cut in hours. This poses a problem for struggling workers as some companies may not want to pay overtime costs under the bill.
Although a study in New Zealand has shown a shortened work week increases productivity, companies are still resisting the idea. Several companies have implemented a shortened work week and have already returned to their original schedule. Companies expressed that they failed to keep up with competitors, work ethic was down, and workers surprisingly faced more stress in the work place. Overall, the proposition of a shortened work week aims to create work-life balance, but many believe it will have an opposite effect.
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Daily Mail (2022 April, 12). California proposes four-day work week for companies with more than 500 employees which would force first to pay overtime to anyone working more than 32 hours per week. Retrieved from: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10709547/California-proposes-four-day-work-week-companies-500-employees-forcing-overtime.html