Work-Life Balance

Maryland Bill Could Push Companies Into Adopting The 4-Day-Work Week

One state is proposing a new bill that will lean on the data supporting shorter workweeks to incentivize companies and the public sector to make the switch.

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A father works from home at a laptop on his desk while holding his son.

Over the past year, pilot programs trialing four-day workweeks have produced an overwhelming amount of data showing that shorter workweeks are a boon for workers and the companies that employ them. Now, one state is proposing a bill that leans on the data in support of shorter workweeks to incentivize companies and the public sector to make the switch.

According to The Washington Post, many Maryland workers could soon see their workweek reduced from 40 to 32 hours without reduced salaries. A new bill aims to convince state and public sector companies to switch to a shorter workweek. The bill proposes offering tax credits of up to $750,000 per year for up to two years for companies that switch, per The Post.

To qualify, employers much shift at least 30 employees from a 40-hour workweek down to a 32-hour workweek. The bill would also ask the labor department to ideate ways to incentivize the public sector to allow for shorter workweek schedules.

“We have a real opportunity here to create a win-win,” said Vaughn Stewart, a Maryland state delegate who sponsored the bill in the House, per Fast Company. “We can make a shift toward reducing working hours without harming productivity, and possibly even boosting companies’ bottom line because they not only have improved productivity but retention and recruitment.”

The Maryland Legislature is set to hold hearings on the bill in February. If it passes, it would become the first successful bill of its kind to incentivize shortening the workweek. Last year, a similar bill in California was stalled; the bill attempted to introduce a change in the definition of a “standard” workweek to be reduced to 32 hours. If the bill had passed, any hours worked after 32 hours would be required to be paid out as overtime.

“The federal government hasn’t changed the workweek since 1940, when the minimum standard shrank from 44 hours to 40,” Fast Company notes.

The data on the benefits of shorter workweeks for the same pay has been undeniable. A six-month trial in the U.S. and Ireland in 2022 involving 33 companies found that shorter workweeks had a positive impact on employee wellbeing while increasing performance and productivity for the company, per 4 Day Week Global, the non-profit that spearheaded the pilot program.

The data shows that 97% of the employees who participated said they would wish to continue with the 4-day workweek. In addition, none of the companies who responded to the follow-up survey intended to return back to the 5-day work week, and the average revenue jumped 38% during the trial period. Workers reported less stress, burnout, and fatigue after the 6-month trial, and improved mental and physical health during the trial period.

Stewart hopes to bring these changes to Maryland should the bill pass legislation, bettering the lives of the workers in his state. “I think when the average Marylander hears about it, their mind immediately goes to, ‘Man, there are so many different things I could do to make my life more rich with those extra hours.’”

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