January 25, 2023
Laura L. Rubenstein
On January 18, 2023, nine delegates in the Maryland General Assembly proposed a bill launching a pilot program for both public and private employers around a shortened workweek. House Bill 0181 proposes to establish the Four-Day Workweek Pilot Program through Maryland’s Department of Labor for the purpose of “promoting, incentivizing, and supporting the experimentation and study of the use of a 4-day workweek by private and public employers; allowing certain qualifying employers that participate in the Program to claim a credit against the State income tax in an amount to be determined by the Department; requiring the Department to report by December 1 each year on the status of the program to the Governor and the General Assembly; etc.”
This concept is not new and has been piloted by governments in Iceland, Spain, Japan, Ireland, South Africa, and the U.K., among others. Reports show that the 4-day workweek has gained some traction. There are also voluntary movements afoot by several companies who have signed onto the concept to push this new workweek as a benefit for employees.
As this concept gets closer to becoming a reality in Maryland, one must wonder about ramifications this could have on both employers and employees and the future of work. For example, will this mean that businesses operate 4-days a week, creating a permanent 3-day weekend? Will employees have to work four 10-hour days to qualify for the proposed credit? How does that impact child care? Or, do employees work 32 hours and take home 20% less? Will shifts be staggered to ensure full coverage when colleagues are off? Will this trigger companies to hire more people? Will PTO incentives be reduced? I could go on…
What I do know is that Maryland is a progressive state with a new Democratic governor. Whether this passes in the General Assembly or not, the 4-day workweek concept will be on the minds of those seeking a greater life balance. Feel free to reach out to any of the lawyers in RKW’s Employment Law Group to share your thoughts and experiences or to ask questions about whether this could work for your company.
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