California lawmaker wants the workweek to be 32 hours. ‘Workers across the nation are collectively reimagining their relationship to labor’

March 14, 2023, 3:22 PM UTC
Rep. Mark Takano, a Democrat from California, is trying to reduce the federal definition of a workweek.
Tom Williams—CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images

A California Congressman is pushing to make the four-day workweek the law of the land. Rep. Mark Takano, a Democrat from the state’s 39th district east of Los Angeles including parts of Riverside County, has reintroduced the 32-Hour Workweek Act, which would reduce the definition of a workweek and force companies to pay overtime for any work done over that amount of time.

“Workers across the nation are collectively reimagining their relationship to labor – and our laws need to follow suit,” said Takano in a statement. “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.”

Takano first attempted to get the bill passed last year, but failed to advance it. He’s reintroducing the bill following the promising results from the world’s largest four-day workweek study, which found that nearly every company that trialed the truncated work week planned to continue with the abbreviated schedule.

The bill has been endorsed by several workers’ groups, including the AFL-CIO and the Economic Policy Institute.

Takano’s act, he notes, would not limit the number of hours an employee can work. It’s a change in the federal definition of the workweek, aimed at helping non-exempt, hourly workers.

The bill was referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. It’s unlikely to make much progress beyond that. The committee is chaired by Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and critics have taken issue with the bill’s “one size fits all” approach.

The Society for Human Resource Management stood in opposition last year to a similar bill introduced in California, saying “this bill would also create a significant logistical burden for human resource professionals, especially at companies with operations in multiple states. And it would undoubtedly be bad for business in California, exacerbating staffing shortages, raising labor costs and making life more difficult for scores of businesses struggling to recover from the worst days of the pandemic.”

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