Bernie Sanders wants a four-day workweek for US

Sen Bernie Sanders of Vermont believes the standard US workweek should be shortened from five days to four — and that workers shouldn’t have their pay cut as a result.

Mr Sanders, who has been promoting a new book entitled It's OK to Be Angry About Capitalism, tweeted his plea on Wednesday.

“With exploding technology and increased worker productivity, it’s time to move toward a four-day work week with no loss of pay,” Mr Sanders tweeted from his government account. “Workers must benefit from technology, not just corporate CEOs.”

Mr Sanders linked to a Washington Post article about the results of a four-day workweek pilot programme in the United Kingdom that proponents of the idea have been sharing widely in recent days.

During the pilot programme, 61 companies with some 3,000 employees in total switched to a four-day week for six months. Of the 61 companies, 56 said they would continue with the four-day workweek following the conclusion of the programme, with 18 making the switch permanent.

Workers reported a wide range of physical and mental health benefits from working fewer hours, including better sleep, lower stress levels, and more time to spend with children and other family members. 15 percent of workers reported that no amount of money could convince them to ever voluntarily work five-day weeks again.

Proponents of the four-day work week argue, like Mr Sanders, that technological advances have allowed workers to increase their productivity to such an extent that they no longer need to spend as many hours doing their jobs.

The pilot programme provided a measure of backing for that claim: companies revenues’ stayed roughly the same throughout the duration of the programme, but increased by 35 percent compared to the same period in previous years.

The shorter workweek also helped combat employee burnout, a major issue since the onset of the Covid pandemic. Worker resignations during the trial period declined.

Opponents of the shortened workweek argue that the productivity rate would eventually decline and that workers in certain sectors like healthcare and the service industry would not get to enjoy the benefits of the four-day week directly.

But Mr Sanders’ advocacy for a four-day workweek aligns with his longstanding practice of advocating for worker power. The US is currently in the midst of a surge in labour activity, which Mr Sanders has vocally supported, and has seen work practices in numerous industries shift since the onset of the pandemic.

It’s not just the Vermont senator who is in favor of cutting the standard workweek in Congress. In 2021, Rep Mark Takano of California introduced a bill that would reduce the standard week to 32 hours and require employers to pay workers overtime for work beyond that.