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UAW Pushes for 4-Day, 32-Hour Workweek

A person holding a tablet with a time sheet on it.

​The 32-hour workweek is on the bargaining table as the United Auto Workers (UAW) negotiate a new contract. Under the proposal, workers would put in 32 hours and get paid for 40 hours; they would receive overtime pay for work beyond 32 hours.

"Our members are working 60, 70, even 80 hours a week just to make ends meet," Union president Shawn Fain told NPR in an interview that aired Sept. 10. Union member Jerry Coleman in Ohio, for example, works a 7-hour 10-day shift. "That's not a living, that's barely surviving. And it needs to stop," Fain said.

The autoworkers are the latest to broach the issue of a four-day workweek, but it championed the concept nearly a century ago, NPR reported. And it's an idea that is gaining traction around the world and in the U.S., including among the nation's school districts.

The Independence (Mo.) School district implemented a four-day week this fall for its nearly 14,000 students as a strategy to recruit and retain teachers; since implementing the change the district has received more than four times the number of teaching applications than last year, according to the school superintendent.

The school district joins around 850 others instituting a four-day school week, up from 650 in 2020, according to the National Conference of State Legislators.

Additionally, a handful of state legislatures have considered legislation mandating, incentivizing or allowing the switch to a four-day work week and Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., reintroduced his Thirty-Two Hour Workweek Act to Congress this year. The FLSA was amended in 1940 to create today's 40-hour workweek

However, in other sectors there is uncertainty about the wisdom of shortening the workweek and concern about its impact on their business.

A pulse survey report the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans released in September found that among 376 employers, 5 percent are offering a four-day workweek as a formal policy or on a case-by-case basis. One percent of employers are piloting a four-day schedule and 14 percent are considering implementation. Compressed workweeks, defined as working 40 hours in less than five days, are offered by 24 percent of employers.

The most common reasons employers gave for implementing a 32-hour workweek: employee requests (41 percent), as a retention strategy (36 percent), work/life balance or rethinking company culture (36 percent), and as a recruitment strategy (27 percent), according to the IFEBP.

"As the traditional work week saw a major upheaval with the pandemic, a few employers are implementing a four-day work week for recruiting and retention reasons," said Julie Stich, vice president of content at the foundation, in a statement about the findings. "However, most employers, even if interested, are struggling to figure out how to make that a reality while trying to meet business operation goals."

A lack of interest (42 percent) by upper management was the main reason employers cited for not offering a four-day workweek. Other top concerns and issues they gave:

  • Difficulty implementing it organization-wide (38 percent).
  • Negative impact on business operations (36 percent).
  • Unsure if it would work with their organization structure (36 percent)
  • Unsure if they can support their customer base (32 percent).

A larger survey conducted in June with 600 U.S. business leaders for found 20 percent have a four-day workweek and 41 percent plan to implement the shortened work week. Among those looking to introduce the shortened work week, half expect it to happen by the end of 2023.

SHRM Online collected the following news coverage on this developing issue: 

As UAW Seeks 4-Day Workweek, Idea Gains Ground with US Workers

Typically, organizations point to two basic challenges to implementing a shorter week. One, they fear the logistics of shifting from a five- to four-day week would be too onerous to take on. Secondly, they are concerned that managers or other leaders simply won't be on board for the shift, according to Amrita Puniani, a senior principal analyst for Gartner's HR Practice.

Another obstacle organizations cite is that it's too complicated to schedule and coordinate a shift from a five- to four-day default, Puniani added.

"But there are more options for exploring a reduced workweek than many organizations think," she said.
(Computer World)   

4-day Workweek Will Finally Arrive Thanks to AI, Jefferies Says
You'll just need a 'human day' to cope with digital overload

Artificial intelligence is just beginning to make its impact felt. Research from Goldman Sachs estimates 25 percent of all tasks in the workplace today could be automated in the U.S., but what if it makes the four-day workweek possible, or even revives the labor movement? The ESG team at investment bank Jefferies, which specializes in societal transformation through business, came up with three big calls about the widespread adoption of the new tech.

How to Implement a 4-Day Workweek for the Whole Organization

In a pilot program involving 91 organizations, revenues rose, hiring increased, and workers reported higher satisfaction in life and their jobs.
(MIT Management

Other SHRM Resources:
Is a 4-Day Workweek for You? Employers Find What Works, SHRM Online, Aug. 16, 2023
Some US Employers Start to Move to 4-Day Workweek, SHRM Online, July 19, 2023
Is the 32-Hour Workweek Feasible in the US? Experts Weigh In, SHRM Online, March 17, 2023
What Employers Should Know Before Trying a 4-Day Workweek, SHRM Online, June 5, 2022
Want to Switch to a 4-Day Workweek? Here's How to Run a Pilot, SHRM Online, January 3, 2022


​An organization run by AI is not a futuristic concept. Such technology is already a part of many workplaces and will continue to shape the labor market and HR. Here's how employers and employees can successfully manage generative AI and other AI-powered systems.