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A 4-Day Workweek? California Could Make It A Reality

A close up shot of a roadworks crew member wearing a yellow safety jacket and hard hat, doing road resurfacing work
A roadworks crew work on road resurfacing in Alhambra, California
(Frederic J. Brown
/
AFP via Getty Images)
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A new bill moving through the state legislature would mandate a 4-day workweek for companies with more than 500 employees.

The bill, AB 2932, would require overtime pay for employees working more than 32 hours in a week, rather than the current cap of 40 hours per week.

One of the bill's authors, Assemblymember Cristina Garcia of Bell Gardens, cites a mass employee exodus during the COVID-19 pandemic as a cause for change. Over 47 million people left their jobs last year, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Garcia said we’re already seeing the signs of labor shortages regularly in multiple fields, such as restaurants, retail and education.

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“Employees are letting us know that they're not willing to return to what was before because there was not a healthy balance out there,” Garcia said. “So for me, it’s if we are going to start to deal with labor shortages, if we're going to have a better work-life balance. We need to be discussing the workweek out there.”

Garcia is already talking about a shortened workweek in her own office. She said her staff uses a hybrid model because she still needs an office open for constituents.

“I was like, ‘you don't need to be here five days a week, you've been producing above and beyond, and you've shown me that we don't need to be in the office every day,'” Garcia said. “The pandemic showed us that we are adaptable, and we can do a lot of things that, maybe, we haven't had an opportunity to think about.”

The bill is just a starting point for Garcia, who said she's optimistic it will allow us to “adjust as a society” to this new idea. Garcia said she hopes it will be scheduled for a hearing in the next few weeks.

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