4 Reasons Bernie Sanders’ 32-Hour Workweek Bill Could Make Sense

Senator Bernie Sanders has introduced groundbreaking legislation to establish a 32-hour workweek in the United States. The Thirty-Two Hour Workweek Act¹, if passed, would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act to reduce the standard workweek from 40 hours to 32 hours by 2028, with no reduction in pay or benefits for workers.

Here are four compelling reasons why this bill makes sense for the future of work in America.

1. Sharing the Benefits of Technological Progress

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One of the main arguments for the 32-hour workweek is that it would ensure workers share in the gains from the massive increase in productivity driven by artificial intelligence, automation, and new technology. Since the 1940s, American workers have become over 400% more productive, yet wages have stagnated and many are working longer hours for less pay.

Sanders believes it’s time for the financial benefits of these advancements to go to the working class, not just corporate CEOs and wealthy stockholders.

2. Improving Work-Life Balance & Well-Being

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Reducing the standard workweek to 32 hours could have significant benefits for employees’ work-life balance, mental health, and overall well-being. Studies have shown that shorter workweeks can lead to reduced stress, burnout, and fatigue, as well as increased happiness and job satisfaction.

With an extra day off each week, workers would have more time to spend with family, pursue hobbies and interests, volunteer in their communities, and take care of their physical and mental health. This could lead to a more well-rounded and fulfilling life for millions of Americans.

3. Boosting Productivity & Business Performance

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Contrary to some critics’ concerns, research suggests that a 32-hour workweek could actually maintain or even boost productivity and business performance. Trials of shorter workweeks in countries like New Zealand and Japan have found that employees can be just as productive, if not more so, in fewer hours when they are more rested, focused, and engaged.

Companies have also reported benefits such as increased revenue, reduced absenteeism and turnover, and an easier time attracting and retaining top talent. While the transition may be challenging for some industries, the potential long-term gains could be significant.

4. Adapting to the Future of Work

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Finally, the 32-hour workweek bill reflects a growing global conversation about the need to rethink and adapt the standard 40-hour, 5-day workweek for the realities of the 21st century. With the rapid pace of technological change, shifting demographics, and evolving employee expectations, many experts argue that the traditional model of work is becoming outdated.

Countries around the world are experimenting with alternative schedules and finding promising results for both workers and businesses. By introducing this legislation, Sanders is positioning the United States to be a leader in defining the future of work and ensuring that the benefits of progress are shared more equitably.

Of course, the Thirty-Two Hour Workweek Act faces significant political and practical hurdles. It is unlikely to become law anytime soon and would undoubtedly require a major shift in business practices and cultural attitudes about work. However, by sparking a national debate about the length of the workweek and the distribution of productivity gains, Sanders is performing an important service.

As we navigate the challenges and opportunities of the coming decades, it is crucial that we think boldly and creatively about how to build a future of work that works for everyone.

Martha A. Lavallie
Martha A. Lavallie
Author & Editor | + posts

Martha is a journalist with close to a decade of experience in uncovering and reporting on the most compelling stories of our time. Passionate about staying ahead of the curve, she specializes in shedding light on trending topics and captivating global narratives. Her insightful articles have garnered acclaim, making her a trusted voice in today's dynamic media landscape.