The 4 Day Week Campaign is an initiative striving to “[build] a world where we work to live, rather than live to work,” in partnership with the think tank Autonomy, & researchers at Cambridge University, Boston College and Oxford University. And after the UK recently completed a trial run of a 4-day work week, we couldn’t help but hope that this could be implemented in NYC at a future date.
Now the conversation is happening once again, as one California Congressman is pushing to make it federal law.
California Representative Mark Takano has reintroduced his 32-hour Workweek Act to Congress, which pushes to reduce the standard definition of the workweek from 40 hours to 32 hours, according to CNBC.
Under the proposal, any work done beyond 32 hours would constitute overtime pay, causing businesses to either pay their workers more or shorten their work week and hire more employees.
The bill applies to non-exempt workers, who typically work hourly jobs across leisure and hospitality, transportation, construction, manufacturing, wholesale, and retail trade, says CNBC.
“Workers across the nation are collectively reimagining their relationship to labor – and our laws need to follow suit,” said Takano.
The U.K.’s 6-month trial ran from June 2022 to December 2022 and was similar to ones performed in Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and even the United States, where the work week was reduced to 32 hours with no loss in pay.
The pilot involved workshops, mentoring, networking, & wellbeing and productivity assessments. The trial period required interested organizations in the UK to apply in the spring of March 2022 in order to participate.
According to the campaign, implementing a 4-day work week would result in benefits for employers, workers, society, the economy, and the environment. By reducing the work week’s total hours, employees would have an improved work-life balance, better rest & leisure time, & more opportunities to tackle “life admin” tasks such as cleaning, parenting, etc.
A 2019 study at the Henley Business School confirmed that a 4-day work week saved 250 participating firms nearly £92 billion a year (~$104 billion) due to employees being happier, less stressed, and healthier. “Put simply, a rested worker is a better worker.”
Moreover, the campaign has found research proving lower unemployment, increased productivity, better mental & physical health, a stride in gender equality, and a reduced carbon footprint as a result of one less day on the job.
And according to our friends over in London, the 4-day work week trial was a success! 92% of the participating companies are sticking to the program. The companies noticed a decline in sick days taken and an increase in productivity.
The 4 Day Week Campaign is even transitioning from experimentation to implementation with a rollout program in 2023 for the UK that will support companies in their transition to a 4-day work week. Find out more about it here.
And though a 4-day work week isn’t unheard of in America—according to the New York Times, 5% of US workers operate on a 4-day week schedule—the change has never been embraced nationwide.
The closest NYC is to achieving such change can be seen in earlier statements by Governor Kathy Hochul alluding to the idea of doing away with a 5-day work week in a post-pandemic world.
And after most New Yorkers adjust back into office life, a study by Partnership for New York City found that around 80% of New Yorkers expect their work to continue using a hybrid model from now on.
Takano’s legislation was first introduced to Congress in 2021 and was endorsed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus before ultimately failing to advance in Congress.
Now that the 32-hour Workweek Act is back in Congress, Takano says the next step is to “get more and more people understanding the arguments for it, to bring in the business executives and the employees who’ve experienced positive effects of a shorter workweek, and begin to reduce the anxieties around change,” reports CNBC.
Until more research is found, we’ll have to keep hustling like we do best, but at least the conversation is being had!