Just when you thought the government didn’t care about the people, they turn around and do something that makes you think they actually care. Congressman Mark Takano (D-CA) is trying to breathe life into a bill he first introduced in 2021 that would make your weekends a little longer.
The Thirty-Two Hour Workweek Act reduces the standard workweek from 40 hours to 32 hours through an amendment of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and lowering the maximum hour threshold for overtime compensation for non-exempt employees.
As of now, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), 4 Day Week Global, Service Employees International Union and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union are among those who have endorsed his bill.
The result, Takano says, would allow for more time for life outside of the workplace and get us closer to that work-life balance we all want. “We have before us the opportunity to make common sense changes to work standards passed down from a different era,” he said. “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.”
But if you think your boss will never go for it, there’s already evidence from the United Kingdom that shows what a great idea this could be. During their trial, last summer, workers from 70 companies who tried the shorter weeks maintained their output, and over 90 percent of the companies said they would never go back to the old way again, according to The Washington Post.
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Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), an original co-sponsor of the bill, echoed Takano’s sentiments, arguing that companies should put their employees’ well-being first.
“For too long, our country has prioritized corporate profits over working people and Americans have been forced to work longer hours, sacrificing time with loved ones,” she said in a statement.
When he first introduced the bill in 2021, Takano argued that the pandemic had caused a shift in people’s priorities. But the bill, which did receive support from the Congressional Progressive Caucus, didn’t get very far. “This is not an insincere, cavalier thing we’ve done. It is a sense on my part that wide swaths of the American workforce are worn out and tired, and the pandemic has made them be more real about their lives after seeing someone die or be at risk of dying. People are seeing that time is just as important as money,” he said at the time.
This time around, Takano, who is still as passionate as ever about the 32-hour workweek, calls it a “significant change which will increase the happiness of humankind.” It’s like he’s reading my mind.