Americans Want A Four-Day Workweek. Here’s Why We Still Don’t Have One.

Americans Want A Four-Day Workweek. Here’s Why We Still Don’t Have One.

The majority of workers in the U.S. prefer a four-day workweek, whether it’s 8 hours a day (assuming no cut in pay) or 10 hours a day.

“A Washington Post-Ipsos poll conducted this spring shows that 75 percent of workers would prefer working four 10-hour days versus five eight-hour days, including majorities across generations, income levels and partisan groups,” The Washington Post reports. “But a similarly large 73 percent say they would rather work five days a week at full-time pay than four days for less pay, a sign most workers are unwilling to sacrifice income for a shorter workweek.”

Legislation has been introduced in Congress to reduce the workweek to 32 hours. And California and Maryland saw four-day workweek bills as well.

Yet, nothing has happened and we remain with the same five-day workweek.

Why? The Washington Post provides some insight:

“For businesses, the shift involves cultural and structural changes. Companies may have to change the way they operate, with a staggered workforce in some cases, said Chris Kayes, chair of the Department of Management at the George Washington University School of Business. For policymakers, it’s a question of funding pilots and creating economic incentives to encourage adoption.

‘The policy may be perceived as a good environment for employees, but maybe not so much to attract employers if they’re not open to it,’ he said.

Some labor groups point out that not all four-day workweek policies favor workers. The California Labor Federation, an organization that comprises more than 1,200 unions across industries, opposes any policy that gets rid of the eight-hour workday, despite the length of the workweek.

‘We just think after eight hours, people deserve overtime,’ said Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, chief officer of the federation. ‘In dangerous, hard jobs, after eight hours, it bears on your body. We’re not in support of contributing to that.'”

Regardless, the concept of a four-day workweek has become part of the national discussion and momentum is growing. Recent successes in workweek experiments in the UK, Japan, and Iceland have provided a boost in the idea’s popularity. As worker productivity continues its decades-long surge, and corporations reap in unprecedented profits, a four-day workweek could be more feasible than many think.


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