32 Hour Work Week Act reintroduced to Congress

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4 day work week

NATIONWIDE – Congressman Mark Takano (D-Calif.) introduced, for a second time, the “32 Hour Work Week Act” earlier this month that would reduce the standard workweek from 40 hours to 32 hours.

According to Takano, workers have been working longer hours for decades, while productivity has skyrocketed. Yet, in that same period, wages have remained stagnant. On average, U.S. workers work 200 hours more per year than workers in other developed countries. 

Proposed Bill

The proposed bill would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to shorten the standard workweek by eight hours for non-exempt employees. A non-exempt employee is someone who is entitled to overtime when they work more than 40 hours in a week. The proposed bill would mostly affect workers in leisure and hospitality, transportation, construction, manufacturing, wholesale, and retail trade industries.

Employers would be required to pay overtime to nonexempt employees whose work exceeds 32 hours in a week or hire more workers to fill in the gaps. 

“This will allow for more work sharing and labor market participation, while creating a healthier competition in the workplace that empowers workers to negotiate for better wages and working conditions,” says a one page informational flyer.

It does not make any changes or limit the number of hours that an employee may work in a week.

“Workers across the nation are collectively reimagining their relationship to labor – and our laws need to follow suit,” said Takano. “We have before us the opportunity to make common sense changes to work standards passed down from a different era. The Thirty-Two Hour Workweek Act would improve the quality of life of workers, meeting the demand for a more truncated workweek that allows room to live, play, and enjoy life more fully outside of work.”  

When Takano first introduced the bill in July 2021, it went to the Committee on Education and the Workforce. It didn’t get anywhere. The bill would need to pass out of the House Education and the Workforce Committee to advance toward becoming law. 

Top-Down Legislation

House Education and the Workforce Committee chair Virginia Foxx (R-North Carolina) says she doesn’t agree with “top-down” legislation.

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“One of my top priorities as the Chairwoman of the Education and the Workforce Committee is the creation of policies that promote flexibility and choices for workers and job creators,” Foxx said in a statement to Nexstar. “However, blanket federal regulations often cause more harm than good and do not account for the unique needs of industries, communities, and small businesses. Main Street America is still recovering from pandemic-era shutdowns—it does not need more top-down federal mandates.”

Four Day Week Global, a nonprofit that helps companies implement shorter workweeks, is endorsing the bill as well as the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) and others labor unions.

To read the full bill visit: https://takano.house.gov/imo/media/doc/thirty-two_hour_workweek_act.pdf

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