The Maryland Legislature is considering a bill to create a pilot program to study the effects of a four-day workweek. Under the proposed program, qualifying companies would receive a tax incentive to move employees from a 40-hour week to 32 hours without a reduction in pay or benefits.
The bill is currently open to businesses with a minimum of 30 employees, though some discussion has proposed lowering that number to five employees. The state Department of Labor would also assist companies in realizing productivity gains.
Del. Vaughn Stewart – D-Montgomery County – introduced the bill in the House, citing older views on the relationship between workers and productivity. Stewart noted that Richard Nixon predicted in the 1950s that the US would soon move to a four-day workweek. He believes the original American dream centered around the idea of rising productivity leading to increased leisure time.
The proposal has garnered significant public interest, with Stewart stating that it has generated more colleague interest than any other bill. The governor has not taken a position on the bill, but Stewart is optimistic that the bill will fit with the governor’s public service initiatives.
The pilot program would last for five years if enacted. The British nonprofit 4 Day Week Global recently published the results of a six-month trial of 61 companies involving over 3,000 employees, with 92% of firms stating that they will continue the four-day workweek.
The Maryland Chamber of Commerce has declined to take a position on the bill, and versions of the bill are currently in committee in both the Maryland House and Senate.