Madsen, lawmakers explain merits of four-day workweek bill

HARRISBURG, May 23 – State Rep. Dave Madsen, D-Dauphin, and fellow House Democrats provided the following statement on incentivizing a four-day, 32-hour workweek in Pennsylvania.

“Before this legislation has even had the chance to be discussed or debated, there have been cries of government overreach, forced mandates, and the idea that we want to pay workers more to do less,” Madsen said. “Let me put these notions to rest.

“What we are proposing is a three-year pilot program that companies can choose to participate in, given they determine it beneficial for both productivity and financial reasons. No organization will be forced or expected to participate in this program.

“I agree that if it were to be mandated, some unexpected consequences may arise. This is why we are promoting an experimental pilot program, so that we can test the waters and take an incentive-based approach that works best for PA employers.”

His proposal is backed by other lawmakers in the House chamber.

“The idea of a four-day workweek, while seemingly a new phenomenon, dates all the way back to President Richard Nixon predicting that Americans would only have to work four days a week ‘in the not-too-distant future,’” said state Rep. Josh Siegel, D-Lehigh.

“Whether it be private companies or governments, many are paying attention to the countless studies proving the benefit of a four-day workweek to the health of employees and employers, productivity, and businesses in general. Furthermore, when we have employees who participated in these pilot programs saying that they would need a 25-50% salary increase to return to a five-day workweek or employees who would not return to a five-day workweek for any amount, that is a strong telltale sign that we must take into account to ensure that we are investing in our workers.”

“We continually hear about the ‘brain drain’ and the ‘great resignation’ from area employers,” said state Rep. Chris Pielli, D-Chester. “On the other hand, we also hear from working folks who are burnt out and are desperately seeking a healthy work-life balance. Our economy must change and innovate to current economic conditions to continue to succeed.

“With that said, I was drawn to the possibilities of a four-day workweek after reading about the surprising results of a pilot program conducted in London, England. This pilot program of 3,300 workers resulted in some positive outcomes for both employer and employees, namely, revenues for participating companies rose by more than a third compared to a similar period in previous reporting cycles; resignations decreased in addition to sick days; and overall stress levels decreased. Bottom line, 92% of the companies involved in the study remain committed to continuing a four-day workweek as their business model. All we are asking is to conduct a similar, volunteer-based pilot program and let the results speak for themselves. We have a pressing employment problem and our duty as legislators is to seek viable solutions. That is what we are doing here.”

Madsen echoed his sentiment.

“We certainly do not want to force businesses to adapt to new regulations,” Madsen said. “This idea is our way of introducing a cultural change to our workforce that business owners can experiment with and evaluate for themselves as to whether or not it’s worthwhile.

“This proposal in question will extend tax breaks to companies who voluntarily reduce employees' working hours, without reducing pay or benefits. It’s a win-win for everyone involved, including PA residents when we reap the benefits of a happy and healthy workforce.

“A four-day workweek would undoubtedly address employee stress, burnout, and fatigue by fostering a healthy work-life balance. An extra day at home would also allow employees to be more present parents and more active community members.

“The evidence is there and a positive outcome from an experiment of this sort is quite expectable, which is why I am happy to join my colleagues Representatives Josh Siegel and Chris Pielli to bring the legislation forward.”