California considering 4-day work week bill for companies with at least 500 employees

A new bill being debated in the California Assembly could make the state the first to implement a four-day work week for businesses with 500 or more employees.

Under the proposed legislation, state employers would be required to pay overtime at a rate of at least 1 1/2 times an employee’s normal rate of pay for any overtime work beyond 32 hours per week, rather than the standard 40 hours. Additionally, employers covered by the bill would be prohibited from reducing an employee’s rate of pay because of the shortened workweek.

Assemblywoman Christina Garcia, a co-author of the bill, said the proposal would help tackle the mass exodus of workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve had a five-day workweek since the industrial revolution,” Garcia told the Los Angeles Times on Friday. “But we’ve had a lot of progress in the company, and we’ve had a lot of progress. I think the pandemic right now gives us the opportunity to rethink things, to reimagine things. »

A record more than 4.5 million people in the United States quit their jobs in November, according to the Associated Press. Most were looking for different positions offering higher salaries.

The California bill has been met with skepticism. The state Chamber of Commerce included the law on its list of 2022 job killers alongside 14 other bills, which it says will have a detrimental effect on the state’s economy.

The increased overtime requirement in the new legislation “significantly increases labor costs by imposing a requirement for overtime pay after 32 hours and other unattainable requirements, exposing employers to litigation under the Attorneys General Act,” the group explains on its website. .

This isn’t the first time lawmakers have floated the idea of ​​a four-day workweek.

Last July, Rep. Mark Takano (D-California) introduced the 32-hour workweek law to Congress, telling the New York Times that Americans don’t “want to go back to the same old normal” after the pandemic. .

In Texas, the Jasper Independent School District will implement a four-day week in the 2022-23 school year in response to burnout and staffing shortages, according to ABC News.

The idea caught on outside the United States as well. In May 2020, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern suggested a shortened working week to support workers and promote travel within the country as borders were closed, according to The Guardian. And a report published in July 2021 showed that trials of a four-day working week in Iceland had been hugely successful.

“Worker well-being increased significantly across a range of indicators, from perceived stress and burnout to health and work-life balance,” the report said.


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