Sen. Bernie Sanders pushes for 4-day workweek with no loss of pay

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders is introducing a bill in Congress Thursday that aims to shorten the traditional American workweek without impacting how much money workers make.

The Thirty-Two Hour Workweek Act aims to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to require employers to pay overtime to employees who log more than 32 hours of work in a week. Sanders says the legislation is an important step toward giving Americans a better quality of life while keeping productivity consistent due to things like new technology, automation and artificial intelligence.

“Moving to a 32-hour workweek with no loss of pay is not a radical idea,” Sanders said in a statement. “Today, American workers are over 400 percent more productive than they were in the 1940s. And yet, millions of Americans are working longer hours for lower wages than they were decades ago. That has got to change.”

Sanders, who is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, will introduce the legislation Thursday at a hearing that will include testimony from United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain and others on the issue. The bill already has support from Sen. Laphonza Butler and Rep. Mark Takano — both of California.  

“While CEOs’ wages continue to increase, our workers are finding themselves doing more, yet earning less than they have in decades,” said Sen. Butler. “The Thirty-Two-Hour Workweek Act would allow hardworking Americans to spend more time with their families while protecting their wages and making sure profits aren’t only going to a select few.”

This isn’t the first time lawmakers have pushed for a four-day workweek to be the national standard. California Congressman Mark Takano, a member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, introduced a similar piece of legislation last year calling for a 32-hour workweek. However, the bill was never brought to the House floor for a vote. 

Last year, Researchers in the U.K. published a four-day workweek study involving nearly 3,000 workers from 61 companies. The results showed 39% of employees were less stressed, 62% said it was easier to balance work with their social lives, and 55% reported an increase in their productivity at work.    

Meanwhile, company revenue remained broadly the same over the trial period, rising by 1.4% on average. And of the 61 companies that participated, 56 said they are continuing with the four-day workweek, with 18 making it a permanent policy change.