Four-day work week! 32-hour work week proposed for large NY companies

In this March 14, 2012 photo people come and go from Goldman Sachs headquarters in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

New York may soon offer a four-day, 32-hour workweek for employees of companies with more than 500 employees.

Assemblyman Ken Burgos, D-Bronx, has introduced A.10009, with the bill assigned to the Assembly Labor Committee. It's unlikely the legislation will be passed before the end of the legislative session in mid-June, and companion legislation has yet to be introduced in the state Senate

The legislation would only apply to employees who are not covered as part of a collective bargaining agreement. Employees affected would not see their pay reduced for the loss of eight hours a week. Overtime would begin at 32 hours a week and remain paid at 150% of an employee's hourly pay.

"In light of the pandemic, many large corporations transitioned to a remote/hybrid model," Burgos wrote in his legislative justification. "As this resulted in reduced hours but the same amount of productivity, companies have considered or begun instituting a four-day, 32-hour work week. Studies have shown that there has been no correlation between working more hours and better productivity."

A similar bill has been introduced in California (AB.2932) sponsored by California Assembly members Cristina Garcia and Evan Low. At the federal level, Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., has sponsored legislation reducing the standard workweek from 40 hours to 32 hours by lowering the maximum hours threshold for overtime compensation for non-exempt employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

According to Forbes, Iceland conducted test cases of a 35-36 hour work week between 2015 and 2019. Productivity and services provided remained the same or increased, according to the Forbes article, while government revenues remained neutral.

Garcia said the national trend of people leaving their jobs is one reason to move toward a 32-hour work week. According to the Associated Press, job openings hovered at a near-record level in February, little changed from the previous month, continuing a trend that Federal Reserve officials see as a driver of inflation. There were 11.3 million available jobs last month, matching January's figure and just below December's record of 11.4 million. The number of Americans quitting their jobs was also historically high, at 4.4 million. Many people are taking advantage of numerous opportunities to switch jobs, often for higher pay. The vast majority of those quitting do so to take another position.

"Since COVID has changed the structure of the workforce, large employers are opting not to go back to the same pre-pandemic 40 hour work week format," Burgos wrote.

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