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Is the 40-hour workweek falling out of fashion?


Is the 40-hour workweek falling out of fashion? | Deseret News

In 1938, Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act as part of then president Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal. As a result, the 40-hour workweek (based on the eight-hour workday) became fully integrated, and legislated, as part of American corporate culture.

CNN Money's Jeanne Sahadi argues that it may be time for change.

The 40-hour workweek, according to Sahadi, may actually be stunting worker productivity. But not because it stops employees from working more, but because it leads to too many instances of overwork.

According to Sahadi, the notion of a 40-hour workweek is, in general, a myth in the first place. Salaried employees, he argues while citing a Gallup poll from last year, typically work seven hours more than what's required of them each week, and they feel pressure to work above and beyond the legislated limits.

This is bad for employees who suffer from additional stress, and for employers who often see productivity rates decrease as a result.

"If decades of studies are to be believed, too many hours at work can make Jack a less productive, less creative and less healthy boy," Sahadi wrote, "to say nothing of an absent partner at home."

But while Sahadi argues that reducing expected work hours could be good for full-time employees, there are those that argue full-time work in general is overrated.

"Life is too short for a full-time job," Mohit Satyanand wrote in Quartz India last year. Satyanand cites influential systems theorist Buckminister Fuller, who projected that productivity would rise to such levels that part-time work would become a viable option for all citizens of industrialized countries.

Though he concedes that the modern world hasn't reached the destination that Fuller once imagined, Satyanand couldn't help but experiment with rejecting the life of a full-time laborer. "Material progress gives us the choice to trade our earning ability for more consumption, or more time. I had made mine, and found enormous joy in every day."

Satyanand isn't alone in his ambitions. He also cites Mexican telecommunications mogul Carlos Slim Helú's statements that support a much shorter workweek in hopes of increasing leisure time.

According to Helú, who also happens to be one of the richest men in the world, shortening the workweek to only three days, while increasing the amount of time people work per day, as well as the age at which they retire (he proposes well over 70 years of age) would help workers be more productive, while simultaneously increasing "quality of life."

"With three workdays a week, we would have more time to relax; for quality of life," Helú reportedly said at a conference in 2014. "Having four days [off] would be very important to generate new entertainment activities and other ways of being occupied.'"

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Was it ever considered fashionable?

Or did people mostly do it because they needed the money?

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