The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

COLUMN: 32-hour work weeks should be the standard

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Jacob Hamm

The idea of a 32-hour work week has gained attention recently, with many companies in Europe and the United States instituting this policy. 

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont recently introduced legislation that would make a 32-hour work week the standard across the country. I am an enthusiastic supporter of this idea. 

A 2022 study from the United Kingdom showed that adopting a 32-hour work week improves employee productivity and retention. Employees with companies that participated in the study saw improvements in mental health and a greater work-life balance. 

Prior to implementation of this policy, employees who were surveyed ranked their mental health at 2.89 on a five-point scale. One year after the policy change, the same figure rose to 3.34. 

Out of 294 staff members that were surveyed, 53% said that their personal well-being improved, and 41% said their stress levels were reduced. 

Out of the 61 organizations participating in the study, 54 of them were still practicing four-day work weeks one year later. 31 of these companies made the policy permanent. 

Only 8% of companies that were a part of the study discontinued it for reasons such as lack of commitment from management. 

Pro-business special interest groups and politicians have lobbied against the measure despite the idea’s overall success and popularity. 

I am here to say don’t listen to them. 

It wasn’t too long ago in our country’s history that the same groups opposed child labor laws and a 40-hour work week during the Great Depression. 

Many public and private sector unions have begun demanding four-day work weeks as part of their negotiations. The average American works approximately 8.01 hours per day, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The proposal would not reduce the daily hours worked, but simply give employees another day off. 

On a personal note, I know many people that would benefit from this policy.  

Many people I know struggle with a work-life balance, struggling to find time to complete tasks such as errands and even relax. Having an extra day off can make a huge difference for many. 

While the legislation is unlikely to pass in this congressional session, the idea needs to be continuously brought up in terms of public policy and job negotiations. If more people start demanding a four-day work week, more companies may institute the policy on their own. 

As the idea becomes more normalized and the private sector begins to catch up with market demand, this idea needs to become the reality in our country. 

  

Jacob Hamm can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]. 

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Jacob Hamm
Jacob Hamm, Reporter
Jacob Hamm is a junior journalism major and can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].

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