- Two California assembly members are proposing a 32-hour workweek.
- The bill is similar to a proposed bill in Congress from Rep. Mark Takano, also from California.
- Asm. Cristina Garcia told Insider that she hopes California will set an example for other states.
California is taking the lead on making the four-day workweek a reality.
State Assembly members are proposing a bill that would create shortened workweek for non-union, hourly workers at companies with 500 or more employees.
The bill, authored by Asm. Evan Low and Asm. Cristina Garcia, is currently moving through committee. It's similar to a federal bill proposed by Rep. Mark Takano, also from California, that is currently awaiting a vote in the House Education and Labor Committee.
Low told Insider support surrounding Takano's bill partially inspired this one: "As we come out of the COVID pandemic, I am excited about how we reimagine our workforce while uplifting the voices of workers to get back in the job market in response to the Great Resignation," Low said.
Garcia told Insider that now is the perfect time for discussions surrounding a lessened workweek, especially as labor shortages continue across the country and companies begin experimenting with the concept. "Two years into this pandemic, you see a moment of employees driving change and employees reimagining what they think their work week or their work-life balance should be," Garcia said.
It could take years before a proposed bill like this can become a law, but "there's been a lot of enthusiasm more recently now that this bill was introduced out there," Garcia added.
AB 2932 would change state law and shorten the workweek to 32 hours but compensate employees at a similar pay rate. Employees who work over 32 hours would receive overtime at 1.5 times their hourly wages.
Companies around the world have tested or embraced the 4-day workweek, like Microsoft, which reported a 40% increase in productivity, and Buffer, which found that employees are less likely to burn out. The country of Iceland also had a trial of the 4-day workweek, which was so successful that 86% of the country's workforce moved to a shorter workweek.
Critics say it's a 'job killer'
Ashley Hoffman, policy advocate for the California Chamber of Commerce, argued in a letter to Low that the bill is a "job killer" and would present added costs to employers.
"AB 2932's impact on labor costs in California will discourage job growth in the state and likely reduce opportunities for workers," Hoffman wrote.
In a comment to Insider, a spokesperson from the Chamber of Commerce said they would not be able to support a proposal that "requires employers to pay for 32 hours of work at the rate they are currently paying for a 40 hour work week."
Garcia said that although labor costs are a concern, she feels a bill targeting larger companies would help protect smaller businesses. Additionally, she said boosting employee morale through a shortened workweek could help companies with hiring and retention.
"Especially if you're seeing more productivity, you're seeing less attrition, all those things are good things for companies," Garcia said. "All those things help with the bottom line."
Garcia hopes that as discussions on the bill progress, other states will look to California as an example.
"We like to say if California goes, the nation goes," Garcia said.