At Miller Wilmers APC, we have gotten multiple inquiries regarding the legality of an alternative workweek and the likelihood of a legally mandated four-day workweek. Let's dive into what this entails.
California's 4-day Workweek
Lately we have heard that California seeks to become the first of the fifty states to provide the 4-day workweek by law. This sounds like a dream proposal for the many overworked employees across this state but an analysis of Assembly Bill 2932 paints a different picture. To dispel the first rumor we are all hoping to be true, no, this bill does not prevent employers from bringing you in five days a week or more. It does however, provide an incentive for employers to give you less hours of work and to hire more part-time workers. Lets dive in.
Assembly Bill 2932
The Bill, as amended, provides for the redefining of a "workweek", generally seen as the days Monday through Friday, at eight hours per day. We understand this to mean the 9-5 or some other 8-hour configuration where additional work will require the payment of overtime; or work in excess of 40 hours to be compensated at a rate of at least 1 1/2 times the employee's regular rate of pay, subject to many exceptions.
What this bill does, is effectively change that number for overtime to work in excess of 32 hours in a week to be paid overtime, or at least 1 1/2 times the employee's regular rate of pay. The bill exempts an employer with no more than 500 employees, so really this is a requirement for the largest corporations in our state. For employers with no more than 500 employees, the State will maintain the current 40 hours in a workweek at regular pay.
Where is the Bill?
On Monday, May 2 2022, the bill was put on hold after failure of the bill to meet committee deadlines for consideration and a failure to garner support. The bill will not be moving forward this year and may be up for consideration next year. However, the State government itself is taking steps to kill this bill, alongside every major corporation that operates in or out of California.
Opponents of the Bill.
Opponents of the bill have called this another sneaky or backdoor way of increasing the minimum wage, but to exempt union businesses. Opponents believe this bill would cause a financial strain and burden on businesses leading to a severe cuts in employment and hours for employees to force them below the 32 hours a week mark. The California Chamber of Commerce has even commented that this bill is itself a job killer. Interestingly Cal Chamber has stated that “The bill significantly increases labor costs by imposing an overtime pay requirement after 32 hours and other requirements that are impossible to comply with, exposing employers to litigation under the Private Attorneys General Act.”
Changes in Employment?
Theoretically, if the bill were to pass there would be no serious change for Californians unless you were employed by one of these major corporations with 500 or more employees. Even then, although the overtime threshold for weekly hours, not daily hours, were to change, no other aspect of your employment would. We would expect that if the bill were to pass next year, employers would fight to reorganize its staff to include significantly more part-time employees (under 30 hours weekly) to avoid not only overtime, but to avoid paying the health insurance and other benefits of its employees.
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