Bernie Sanders Unveils Bill To Implement 32-Hour Work Week

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced a bill Wednesday that would shave 8 hours off the standard 40-hour work week that has been around for several decades.

A summary from Sanders said the legislation, called the “Thirty-Two Hour Workweek Act,” would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 by lowering the maximum hours threshold for overtime compensation for non-exempt employees.

The bill would require overtime pay at time and a half for workdays longer than eight hours and overtime pay at double a worker’s regular pay for workdays longer than 12 hours, the summary said. It would also “protect” workers’ pay and benefits to ensure no loss in pay.

“Moving to a 32-hour workweek with no loss of pay is not a radical idea,” Sanders said in a statement. “Today, American workers are over 400 percent more productive than they were in the 1940s. And yet, millions of Americans are working longer hours for lower wages than they were decades ago. That has got to change.”

He added, “The financial gains from the major advancements in artificial intelligence, automation, and new technology must benefit the working class, not just corporate CEOs and wealthy stockholders on Wall Street. It is time to reduce the stress level in our country and allow Americans to enjoy a better quality of life. It is time for a 32-hour workweek with no loss in pay.”

As chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), he held a hearing on the bill Thursday. The legislation has the support of several labor unions and a companion bill in the House, which was introduced by Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA).

As polls show a high level of support for a hypothetical four-day work week, there has been a push at the state level, in places such as Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, to give the 32-hour model a try. Companies and other countries have already begun to move in that direction, with data showing some positive results. However, not everyone is on board with the legislation being proposed by Sanders.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) said a “32 hour work week for 40 hours of pay is one more example of the federal government promising free money. Nothing is free. It would kill jobs and increase inflation.”


Roger King, senior labor and employment counsel at the HR Policy Association, warned during the hearing on Thursday that the proposal from Sanders would cause a “productivity gap” in many industries that could then lead to “added costs” for consumers. He also said the bill would “interfere” with “flexibility” for employees and cause a “worker shortage” for employers.