The California Legislature is considering a bill that would shorten the workweek to four days for companies with more than 500 employees. If approved, proposed bill AB 2932 would make California the first state in the nation to reduce its workweek to four days for a huge portion of the state’s workers. Under the legislation, workdays would still be 8 hours and overtime pay would be required for those working more than four full days a week, according to ABC7.
Pros of the four-day workweek:
- It may boost worker productivity, work/life balance, and mental and physical health, according to Axios.
- It gives more time for things other than work—like skiing and snowboarding.
- People may be able to earn more money, as the fifth workday of the week would have to be paid as overtime.
Cons of the four-day workweek:
- It could create massive financial issues, prompting companies to pay more in overtime and hire more workers, according to Axios.
- Additional labor costs imposed by the bill would amount to a minimum 10% increase in wages per employee per week, according to Ashley Hoffman, a policy advocate at the California Chamber of Commerce, who spoke with the San Diego Union-Tribune.
- Those four days of work could become more intense, leading to decreased productivity.
- It may further drive inflation.
- People may not use their free time well and get lazy.
If the bill goes through, businesses could still technically make people work five days a week but they would have to pay them overtime after they hit 32 hours for the week, Axios reports. Under the bill, employees who work more than 32 hours would be compensated at a rate of at least 1.5 times their regular rate of pay, just like how that’s currently required for anybody who works more than 40 hours a week, as reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Opponents say a 4-day workweek would stunt job growth in the state. The CA Chamber of Commerce said the bill would significantly increase labor costs, expose employers to litigation and impose requirements that are “impossible to comply with.”https://t.co/9FFY6hjXbB
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) April 11, 2022
But would the proposed bill give people more time to go skiing? It’s hard to say. In theory, yes. An extra day off a week means an extra day to go ride. But people may still be required to work the five days at their workplace and would just be making overtime instead. Also, if this move only increases inflation rates, which have been steadily rising over the past two years, it would make everything more expensive—including season passes and day tickets at California ski areas. So would it really make it easier to go skiing in that case? Some experts are calling this proposed bill a “job killer” and a “terrifying” move for the state’s economy.
“This is terrifying,” Nicholas Bloom, a Stanford University professor who studies work trends, told the Chronicle. “If they introduce this, businesses will reduce employment through hiring freezes and layoffs and slash pay by canceling the next [five] years of pay increases.”
Nations like Iceland, Japan, Spain, and the United Arab Emirates have already adopted reduced workweek policies. Some private companies have experimented with a shorter workweek as well, and have found it to be popular, according to Axios. Fintech startup company Bolt adopted a permanent four-day week after a three-month trial period and reports that job applications have increased by 30%. Research shared by 4 Day Week Global says that “63% of businesses found it easier to attract and retain talent with a 4 day work week.”
Major legislation like bill AB 2932 will certainly not be easy to pass, and it is currently being reviewed by the Labor and Employment Committee. A hearing date to further discuss the proposed bill has yet to be set.