Congressman Mark Takano introduced legislation in search that would change the way many Californians would work.
If passed, the legislation would instill a 32-hour workweek and require employers to pay overtime if employees pass that threshold. This legislation, which passed last month, follows a model currently practiced in some countries like Japan and Iceland, which have had success with the schedule.
"After a nearly two-year-long pandemic that forced millions of people to explore remote work options, it’s safe to say that we can’t – and shouldn’t – simply go back to normal, because normal isn't working," said Congressman Mark Takano (D-Riverside).
In July 1926, Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company, shut down his seven-day automotive factories for two days as an experiment. Only a few months later in September, it became a national policy.
In 1938 a federal law called the Fair Labor Standards Act(FLSA), mandated a minimum wage of 25 cents per hour, a 44-hour workweek, and overtime pay of 1.5 times a worker’s regular pay. The act provided for a 42-hour workweek in 1939 and a 40-hour workweek in 1940.
“People were spending more time at work, less time with loved ones, their health and well-being was worsening, and all the while, their pay has remained stagnant,” said Rep. Takano. "What I'm really aiming for is a new norm, where people actually have a livable wage with fewer days of the week that they have to use to earn it."
Several studies have shown that productivity decreases with the increase of work weeks. The bill has garnered the support of the 100- member Congressional Progressive Caucus, who say it would improve work-life balance.
“For far too long, workers across this country have been forced to put in long hours as their wages barely budge. It is past time that we put people and communities over corporations and their profits — finally prioritizing the health, wellbeing, and basic human dignity of the working class rather than their employers’ bottom line,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Opponents of the bill say it could destabilize the U.S economy, putting pressure on businesses.
Takano has been promoting his Thirty-Two-Hour Workweek Act since last year. The legislation is still awaiting a vote.