California legislators put four-day workweek proposal on hold

Plans to reduce the standard workweek from 40 to 32 hours at larger firms have been shelved for now, but the bill could return.

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A proposal to shorten the workweek for employees in California has apparently been put on hold.

The California State Assembly’s Labor and Employment Committee declined to advance Assembly Bill 2932, according to the Wall Street Journal, preventing it from moving forward during the current legislative session.

The California bill could return at some stage, however. Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Dist. 28), one of the legislators who has been pushing the idea, said he will now consult with stakeholders on changes to improve the bill’s chances in the future.

The bill, introduced last month by Low and Assembly Member Cristina Garcia (D-Dist. 58), sought to amend existing legislation in the state and reduce the typical workweek from 40 hours to 32 hours.

Under the proposals, employers would have been required to pay employees the same amount for 32 hours as they would for 40. This would enable staff to work the equivalent of four eight-hour days, rather than five.

The change would apply to businesses with more than 500 workers, with certain exemptions, including having a collective bargaining 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.

Interest in a four-day has grown in recent years, though the idea has been discussed off and on for decades. Trials are underway at companies including Kickstarter, Qwick, and Unilever. Hospitality gig-work platform Qwick, for example, began a trial last month. Workers have switched from their typical five-day, 38-hour week to 32 hours a week spread over four days with the same level of pay.

In March, Job posting site Indeed 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— indicated that only 5% put in four days a week, with 84% working five days (and 11% working six days a week).

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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