Push for a 4-day work week picks up steam — and critics
A growing number of lawmakers, business leaders, and academics are pushing for the U.S. to embrace a four-day work week, leading critics to question the wisdom of what would be a cultural sea change for the country.
Maryland state lawmakers recently introduced a bill that would incentivize companies to switch to a four-day workweek, allowing employees to work 32 hours instead of 40 without losing any pay or benefits.
The state would subsidize employers that want to make the change. Specifically, the Maryland Department of Labor would administer a five-year pilot program to study the possibility of a shorter work week without any reduction in pay. Companies that agree to participate by trying out a 32-hour workweek without reducing their full-time employees’ weekly pay would be eligible for a state tax credit.
Critics question whether the cost-benefit analysis would be worth it for employers.
“Not every business is able to cut its work time while maintaining the same level of salaries,” said Mary Elizabeth Elkordy, founder of the remote-based company Elkordy Global Strategies. “Companies need to produce the same level of work, so they may need to hire and train more people. Would the tax breaks offered be enough to cover these extra expenses? This could cause businesses to really sweat.”
Elkordy explained a four-day work week could work well for some businesses in certain areas, especially those with long or unconventional hours such as nurses or firefighters, but questioned its practicality in service-based industries where pay is directly tied to a person’s time and output.
The Maryland legislature is set to hold hearings on the bill later this month.
“I really think that this idea, while it may sound radical or utopian, is something that offers a real win-win possibility for both employers and employees,” Maryland State Delegate Vaughn Stewart, the bill’s sponsor, told NewsNation.
The bill’s been referred to a committee in the State House but would need approval from the whole chamber, the State Senate, and the governor to go into effect. If it becomes law this legislative session, the measure would take effect on July 1 and expire in 2028.
“I don’t think that Marylanders should be lining up and thinking that this is going to happen overnight,” said Stewart. “But I do think the time has come for this conversation, and I think the time has come for us to start looking at the future and envisioning a future with more free time.”
According to Stewart, the impetus for his bill was a recent study by the nonprofit 4 Day Week Global, which conducted a trial of several companies working a four-day week. The pilot program found most participating companies experienced a general increase in revenue and productivity and won’t go back to a traditional five-day work week.
Proponents of the four-day work week argue it will create a happier and more productive workforce. However, Elkordy questioned whether that would stick following an initial “honeymoon phase” of less work with the same pay.
Continue Reading at Fox News.