Massachusetts considers 4-day workweek incentive

Dive Brief:

  • Massachusetts legislators are considering instituting a two-year pilot program that would incentivize employers to offer four-day workweeks. Under Bill H.3849, businesses would receive tax credits for participating in the Massachusetts Smart Work Week Pilot and encouraging employees to work 32 hours per week without a loss in pay or benefits. 
  • During a hearing Tuesday before the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, legislators, researchers who have studied shortened workweeks and businesses that have successfully implemented them, like Kickstarter, testified in favor of the bill, citing gains in productivity, retention, and attraction and accessibility. 
  • “Americans haven’t had a meaningful reduction in working hours since … the 1930s,” Rep. Dylan Fernandes (D-Falmouth), a co-sponsor of the bill, said during the hearing. “Too many people are not just working five days a week; they are often tethered to their devices and phones and email and are working significantly more. Americans … are overworked.”

Dive Insight:

Massachusetts is the latest state to consider a four-day workweek, joining the ranks of California and Pennsylvania, among other states. Some school districts in states like Missouri and Colorado have already implemented four-day weeks to attract and retain teachers. 

In March, Maryland lawmakers withdrew a bill that would’ve created a pilot program to provide employers with up to $750,000 in tax credits annually for moving at least 30 employees to four-day workweeks without a reduction in pay or benefits. Senators said they instead planned to ask the state Department of Labor to study the issue. 

A number of pilots across the globe have tested the effects of a four-day workweek. A six-month pilot earlier this year that involved 60 companies led to 91% of those employers saying they planned to continue the shortened week, 4 Day Week Global said. Companies reported a 35% increase in revenue, hiring gains and a lower level of absenteeism, the study found.

Job ads that mention 4-day weeks remain rare but are steadily growing, an October report from Indeed’s Hiring Lab found. “A 4-day workweek may be gaining popularity, but it has a long way to go before becoming the norm,” Indeed Hiring Lab economists said. 

Workers, for their part, are largely in favor of reduced-hour workweeks, according to an August report from Of those surveyed, 3 out of 4 office workers would switch jobs to have a four-day week, and 1 in 3 would take a pay cut.