Bernie Sanders Wants to Bring in 4-Day Workweek Legislation Without a Pay Cut

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Bernie Sanders introduced new legislation on Wednesday calling for a 32-hour workweek in the US, which would see workers earn the same as they would during a 40-hour workweek. 

The bill, titled the “Thirty Two Hour Workweek Act,” calls for an amendment of the standard 40-hour workweek introduced in 1938 to a reduced 32-hour workweek, equivalent to four days a week working eight hours. 

Under Sanders’ proposal, those who exceed eight hours a day of work would get overtime pay at time-and-a-half, and those with work days longer than 12 hours would get double their normal pay. 

Sanders is supported by Sen. Laphonza Butler and Mark Takano, Democratic Rep. from California, who introduced the companion legislation in 2023

“Today, American workers are over 400% 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,” Sanders said in a press release.

“That has got to change. The financial gains from the major advancements in artificial intelligence, automation, and new technology must benefit the working class, not just corporate CEOs and wealthy stockholders on Wall Street.”

Sanders’ proposal has already faced opposition from those who say a four-day week would harm employers.

“It would threaten millions of small businesses operating on a razor-thin margin because they are unable to find enough workers,” Bill Cassidy, a Republican senator in Louisiana said at a meeting of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, per The New York Times.

A Gallup survey from 2019 found that over half of working adults in the US worked more than 40 hours a week, with 39% working at least 50 hours weekly. 

The average full-time worker is clocking in 42 hours a week, per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics

However, eight million Americans took on second jobs in 2023, with 4.7 million working part-time jobs in addition to full-time jobs. 

OpenAI cofounder and CEO Sam Altman has previously said that one of the strengths of AI is that it can help people complete their work quicker by automating certain tasks. 

A 2023 McKinsey report found that tasks that make up 30% of people’s work hours will be automated by 2030. This would benefit STEM, creative, and business and legal workers “rather than eliminating a significant number of jobs outright.”

The four-day workweek is gaining momentum, with numerous studies showing benefits to both companies and workers. 

A global trial of the 32-hour workweek by 4 Day Week Global included companies from several regions, including Australia, the US, and the UK. 

It found that workers were more efficient and had better work-life balance. Participating firms also reported a 15% growth in revenue. 

Four workers who took part in the UK trial told Business Insider that working less actually improved their lives. 

“I used to find myself catching up with work on a Sunday — but now I’m never tempted to use my extra day off to work,”  Jo Sims, a senior case manager at AKA Case Management, previously told BI. “I would say it’s changed my attitude toward how I work.”