Federal proposal for 32-hour workweek gets traction in Congress

Shortening the workweek is the concept behind a federal proposal that’s getting some traction on Capitol Hill.

This week, the Congressional Progressive Caucus with nearly 100 lawmakers endorsed a bill that would cut the workweek from 40 to 32 hours. The bill would require overtime pay after 32 hours.

During the pandemic, economic consultant Alex Pang said some companies have already shown a shorter week is not only feasible but beneficial to workers and the bottom line.

“When done thoughtfully, the four-day week is something that can bring benefits to employees, obviously, both in terms of greater free time and in terms of better use of their time on the job,” said Pang. “You can achieve all of these benefits, generally without spending very much money at all.”

But critics of the bill believe it’ll hurt small businesses.

“This anti-work and anti-small business policy is consistent with Democrats’ overarching strategy to make American workers completely dependent on the federal government. It is just a ploy to get Democrat politicians one step closer to their goal of creating a socialist economy in the United States,” said Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy in a statement to the Washington News Bureau. “If this absurd policy was ever enacted, it would force the country’s employers to pay more to produce less goods and services, all while continuing to fuel the factors that have led to a 31-year high inflation rate. Luckily, this policy has zero chance of ever becoming law.”

Pang said companies in Japan, Korea, and Latin America are already shifting to this model and it’s something that impacts every industry.

“It’s not just like, creative service firms where people have a lot of freedom. It’s also factories, nursing homes, restaurants,” said Pang. “What we’ve seen is that the four-day week is something that’s accessible to far more companies and far more places than we would have imagined.”