Bernie Sanders Pushing for Four-Day Workweek

( – Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont has introduced a bill to shorten the standard workweek for American workers. The bill would establish a 32-hour workweek as the new standard, with no loss of pay or benefits for employees. Sanders said that transitioning to a four-day workweek is “not a radical idea.” Sanders chairs the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), and claims American workers today are 400% more productive than workers were in the 1940s, yet are working longer hours for lower wages.

The Fair Labor Standards Act, signed into law in 1938 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt established protections for workers such as a minimum wage, youth employment standards, and overtime pay. A 2019 Gallup poll determined more than 50% of adults employed full-time reported working more than 40 hours per week. Sanders believes it is time for a change and the 32-hour workweek would “reduce the stress level” of workers and allow Americans to enjoy a better quality of life.

In addition to reducing the number of weekly hours worked from 40 to 32 over a four-year span, the bill would also lower the maximum hours required for overtime pay. Employers would be required to pay time and a half for shifts lasting more than eight hours and double time if the shift is longer than 12 hours.

Sanders argued that other countries, such as France, Norway, and Denmark have already made similar changes and found that productivity increased along with employee satisfaction. Employee absences and sick days also decreased in these countries after the shift to a four-day workweek.

Republican Senator Bill Cassidy from Louisiana criticized the bill. He claims working fewer hours for the same pay would be just another example of the government promising “free money.” He believes the bill would “kill jobs and increase inflation.” Another opponent of the bill claims it would actually be harmful to American workers by “forcing” employers to either lay off workers or outsource labor overseas.

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