California lawmakers call for 4-day work week with new bill
The bill calls for overtime pay if employees work more than 32 hours in a week
The California State Legislature is currently discussing a bill that would lower the official work week to 32 hours over four days, with overtime pay required for anything in excess of this.
The requirements under the bill would only apply to employers with at least 500 workers. The bill also states that workers' pay cannot be lowered as a result of the reduced hours.
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"We’ve had a five-day work week since the Industrial Revolution," Assembly member Cristina Garcia, one of the bill's authors, told the Los Angeles Times, "but we’ve had a lot of progress in society, and we’ve had a lot of advancements. I think the pandemic right now allows us the opportunity to rethink things, to reimagine things."
Garcia said the bill was inspired by the number of people who left the workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic and want a better quality of life than what they had before. She noted that the bill would not apply to workers who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement.
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The California Chamber of Commerce came out against the legislation, adding it to its 2022 list of "job killer" bills. In a letter to the bill's other author, Assembly member Evan Low, they argued that the bill would result in increased labor costs that "will not be sustainable for many businesses."
"California companies are the economic engine that drives innovation and job creation in our state and are responsible for the record revenues the state is currently experiencing," chamber president Jennifer Barrera said in a statement. "Yet, the bills on this year’s job killer list reflect a lack of appreciation of the economic realities and regulatory challenges employers – and especially small business employers – face as they continue to emerge from the impacts of this pandemic."
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The Assembly has yet to vote on the bill, which has been referred to the committee on labor and employment.