It’s no secret that the FLSA is anachronistic, but now it’s ruining the planet too. The 40-hour week divided into 5 consecutive workdays is a product of the FLSA, which was enacted in 1938. During the last 70 years, we have been consuming energy by commuting to work and operating facilities all the while pumping green house gasses into the atmosphere for an extra day a week.
Aaron Newton makes this brilliant observation in his post on The 4 Day Work Week:
The notion of our standard work week here in America has remained largely the same since 1938. That was the year the Fair Labor Standards Act was passed, standardizing the eight hour work day and the 40 hour work week. Each Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday workers all over the country wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast and go to work. But the notion that the majority of the workforce should keep these hours is based on nothing more than an idea put forth but the Federal government almost 70 years ago. To be sure it was an improvement in the lives of many Americans who were at the time forced to work 10+ hours a day, sometimes 6 days of the week. So a 40 hour work week was seen as an upgrade in the lives of many of U.S. citizens. 8 is a nice round number; one third of each 24 hour day. In theory it leaves 8 hours for sleep and 8 hours for other activities like eating, bathing, raising children and enjoying life. But the notion that we should work for 5 of these days in a row before taking 2 for ourselves is, as best I can tell, rather arbitrary.
Mr. Newton then goes on to offer Sixteen Reason Why this is an Idea Whose Time has Come. This post is a “must read” for HR Professionals whose businesses may be evaluating the 4-day workweek option and looking for supporting reasons. The key downsides to the four-day week are losses in employee productivity and customer service. Comments challenging the 4-day workweek appear at the Oil Drum, which reprinted Newton’s post.
We have also outlined some legal limitations on the four-day concept in previous posts as it continues to garner a lot of media attention: