- A new Massachusetts bill would provide financial incentives for companies with a four-day workweek.
- The bill would give tax credits to businesses shifting workers to a shorter week with the same pay.
- A UK study last year found a four-day workweek decreased stress and anxiety for nearly 3,000 workers.
A bill introduced last week by Reps. Dylan Fernandes and Josh Cutler would implement a two-year tax credit program for businesses that transition at least 15 employees to a 32-hour workweek with the same pay, then report on the impact on productivity and morale. It is set to be discussed in committee hearings during this year’s legislative session.
Americans have not had a meaningful reduction in days off since the 40 hour work week was invented nearly a century ago,” Fernandes said on Twitter. “There’s been huge technology improvements and we’ve become much more efficient workers but we’re still working the same amount of hours or more.”
The lawmakers told Boston.com that they want a variety of companies to try the proposal so they can gather data from different industries and outfits of different sizes. An emphasis would be placed on including companies owned by certain groups including women, people of color, and veterans.
They also said tax credits would vary from business to business to optimize the benefits of credits, Boston.com reported.
“In this era of tight labor markets, we need to get creative to keep our economy growing,” Cutler said in a statement. “This bill creates new incentives for Massachusetts businesses to explore shifting to a four-day work week which can offer a myriad of benefits, including boosting worker satisfaction and productivity, and reducing absenteeism and commuting time.”
Fernandes told CNBC that the pandemic showed that “a life built around working all the time is not a very happy one,” and an easy way to improve lives is to give people more leisure time with family and friends.
—Rep. Josh S. Cutler (@joshscutler) April 10, 2023
The concept has gained popularity in recent years and especially after a months-long study, ending in December, involving 3,000 employees in the United Kingdom. Many of the employees said that while it was an adjustment, they ended up sleeping better, and had less stress and anxiety with an extra day off.
Nearly all of the companies in the UK trial, 56 of the 61 involved, said they planned to keep the system in place as they saw employees take fewer sick days and fewer employees quit, Insider previously reported.
A survey conducted earlier this year of nearly 12,000 workers in the UK found that about two-thirds of the workers said they would rather return to the office for a four-day workweek than work a hybrid five-day week.
A similar bill was pulled from consideration in Maryland in March after the bill’s sponsor said companies told him assistance from the government on implementing the new schedule would be more helpful than tax credits, according to WYPR. However, Delegate Vaughn Stewart told WYPR he hopes to introduce new legislation regarding the concept next year.