A four-day work week could be imposed on some California employees if the state legislature passes a bill.

The bill, introduced by two Assembly members, Cristina Garcia (D-Dist. 58) and Evan Low (D-Dist. 28), would change existing state law and shorten the typical 40-hour work week to 32 hours.

Work over 32 hours would be compensated at a rate of at least one and one-half regular wages and, more importantly, Assembly Bill 2932 would require employers to pay employees the same amount for 32 hours as they would otherwise. by 40. This would allow staff to work the equivalent of four eight-hour shifts instead of five.

The change would apply to companies with more than 500 workers, with certain exceptions, such as having a collective agreement with a union.

Similar rules have been proposed at the federal level by US Rep. Mark Takano, (D-CA.), who last year proposed legislation that would also shorten the workweek from 40 to 32 hours.

“After two years of the pandemic, more than 47 million employees have left their jobs in search of better opportunities,” Garcia said in an interview with CBS News. "They send a clear message that they want a better work-life balance — they want better emotional and mental health, and that's part of this discussion."

The California Chamber of Commerce opposes the new measure, arguing that it imposes "an enormous cost on employers and includes provisions that are impossible to comply with," exposing businesses to litigation under the Lawyers Act. Private Generals. The bill will also “discourage job growth in the state and likely reduce opportunities for workers,” Ashley Hoffman, policy advocate for the California Chamber of Commerce, said in a letter to Low.

Thomas Lenz, a senior fellow at USC Gould School of Law, told Computerworld that the legislation "could create cost and operational hurdles for employers struggling to meet their staffing goals." He added that if the legislation passes, employers with more than 500 employees could consider downsizing operations "to minimize risk and potential exposure."

While calls for a four-day week aren't new, the idea has gained momentum in recent years, fueled in part by companies' rethinking of working practices during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While critics say it will create complexity and incur extra costs for employers, proponents of the idea aim to improve worker well-being by testing four days a week, even leading to increased productivity.

Many companies are currently conducting tests, including Kickstarter, Qwick, and Unilever. Hospitality job platform Qwick, for example, began testing a shorter workweek earlier this month. At Qwick, workers will go from their typical five-day, 38-hour week to a 32-hour week spread over four days. (They would receive the same pay as for a five-day week.)

The trial applies to full-time Qwick employees and will last until July, when the company will assess whether it has been a success.

However, the number of companies that have permanently moved to a four-day week remains low, and it's unclear whether the recent push will lead to widespread adoption. Last month, the Indeed job board told Computerworld that less than 1% of job postings on March 11 included the term "four-day week." A Gallup survey of full-time U.S. employees in March 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic upended many business practices, found that only 5% worked four days a week, with 84% working five days (and 11% worked six days a week). week).

Many four-day-a-week initiatives are aimed primarily at white-collar workers, rather than other parts of the workforce, such as those with service-sector jobs. The California bill would affect all non-exempt employees.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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