Massachusetts Bill Would Cut Workweek From 40 Hours To 32

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Should Massachusetts have a shorter workweek?

On bill on Beacon Hill would make that the norm.

State Representative Erika Uyterhoeven (D-Somerville) filed “An Act To Implement A 4 Day Work Week in the Commonwealth” (HD.1478) to make it happen.

Under this plan, the 40-hour work week would be reduced to a 32-hour week. If workers work more than 32 hours per week, their employer would have to pay them overtime.

Here is the chief provision of the bill:


Section 51C. Notwithstanding any special or general law to the contrary, no employer shall employ any employee for a workweek longer than 32 hours unless such employee receives compensation for their employment in excess of the hours above specified at a rate not less than 1½ times the regular rate at which they are employed.


The idea is that employers would have workers work four eight-hour shifts per week, as opposed to five. 

For Uyterhoeven, this is not a new idea.

She served as a digital strategist for Momentum in the United Kingdom in 2017. It is a left-wing political organization that supports the Labour Party. Momentum also supports implementing a four-day, 32-hour workweek in the United Kingdom. 

Supporters of a four-day workweek say that it can increase productivity, reduce stress levels, and improve work-life balance for employees, ultimately resulting in happier and more motivated workers.

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) is among those who support a four-day workweek.

“With exploding technology and increased worker productivity, it’s time to move toward a four-day work week with no loss of pay,” Sanders tweeted last month. “Workers must benefit from technology, not just corporate CEOs.”

Opponents of a four-day workweek argue that it may not be feasible for certain industries or job roles that require employees to be available for a standard five-day workweek and that it could potentially result in reduced wages or benefits for workers.

Stanford University economics professor Nicholas Bloom opposes a similar bill in California, arguing that it will hurt the state’s job market.

“This is terrifying,” Bloom told The San Francisco Chronicle last year. “If they introduce this businesses will reduce employment through hiring freezes and layoffs and slash pay by canceling the next five years of pay increases.

“Business can’t possibly be competitive in California by having workers only work four days. Firms will just move across the border to Oregon or Nevada.”

So far, no action has been taken on the Massachusetts bill. Uyterhoeven is its only sponsor. 

Uyterhoeven could not be reached for comment on Wednesday or Thursday this week.


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