Senator Bernie Sanders, a progressive from Vermont, recently endorsed the idea of a four-day work week on Twitter, stating that it’s time for workers to benefit from technological advancements and increased productivity.
Sanders’ tweet comes on the heels of a large-scale pilot program in the UK involving over 3,000 workers, which found that employees slept better, firms made more money, and employees were less likely to say they did not have enough time to care for loved ones. Most of the companies involved in the pilot plan on continuing to use a four-day work week.
Growing Popularity of the Four-Day Work Week
The concept of a four-day work week has been gaining popularity in recent years, with firms and researchers alike testing the idea of cutting back hours without reducing pay. For example, the New Zealand-based nonprofit 4 Day Week Global conducted a study involving 33 participating companies that employed 969 people based in the US, Australia, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand, who adopted a four-day work week in a pilot program over a six-month period. The study found that the program was a “resounding success on virtually every dimension,” with companies reporting increased productivity, higher revenue, and decreased absenteeism.
In the US, some companies have already begun to test the idea. A Chick-fil-A owner in Florida launched a three-day work week in November and received 400 applications for just one job opening due to the popularity of the shortened workweek.
Support for the Four-Day Work Week
This isn’t the first time a four-day work week has caught the attention of lawmakers. The Congressional Progressive Caucus previously endorsed the “32-Hour Workweek Act,” with Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal stating in a statement at the time that it’s “past time that we put people and communities over corporations and their profits — finally prioritizing the health, wellbeing, and basic human dignity of the working class rather than their employers’ bottom line.” Representative Mark Takano, a Democrat from California, proposed the legislation. He believes that a 32-hour work week, which would become the new standard under his proposal, would help Americans create the new normal of work that they’ve been demanding.
The four-day work week has become a topic of growing interest and support among lawmakers, businesses, and workers. Pilot programs and studies have demonstrated its potential benefits for workers, including improved work-life balance, higher productivity, and better mental health. As more businesses and policymakers embrace the idea, it’s possible that a shorter workweek could become the norm in the near future.