Employment

Two California Lawmakers Want To Mandate 32-Hour Workweeks

It’s great when innovations let us work less, but top-down, inflexible government demands are not the way to get there.

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There's no crisis that lawmakers can't make worse, and in California, a state that already has pretty high taxes and minimum wages, two lawmakers have introduced a bill mandating 32-hour workweeks for the largest employers.

State Reps. Cristina Garcia (D–Downey) and Evan Low (D–Cupertino) have introduced A.B. 2932. The bill would require all businesses in the state with 500 employees or more to alter the definition of a workweek to 32 hours instead of 40 hours, meaning that any work over 32 hours would be compensated with overtime.

The bill doesn't stop there, though. A.B. 2932 also requires that the compensation levels for people covered by the bill remain the same. So, an hourly employee currently working 40 hours a week would have to receive the same amount of pay for working 32 hours a week, essentially forcing employers to raise all their wages.

If the bill is passed into law, it would affect more than 2,600 companies within the Golden State and more than 3.6 million workers. Unsurprisingly, the California Chamber of Commerce is describing the bill as a "job killer." Ashley Hoffman, policy advocate for the California Chamber of Commerce, notes in a letter to Low that the bill acts as though companies can simply adjust hourly wages with a simple calculation to account for the change from 40 to 32 hours. But that's not how wages work. An employee's "rate of pay" as described in the bill includes not just wages but can include commissions and various other bonuses. Hoffman writes:

The regular rate therefore fluctuates significantly depending on how much overtime an employee works and the performance or attendance bonuses or commissions they receive, much of which is dependent on the employee or general performance of the business in any given week, not factors solely under the employer's control.

Therefore, an employer can end up getting punished by the state under this bill for "violations" that they cannot correct.

Garcia seems fairly oblivious to the bigger consequences of these changes, telling the Los Angeles Times, "We've had a five-day workweek since the Industrial Revolution, but we've had a lot of progress in society, and we've had a lot of advancements. I think the pandemic right now allows us the opportunity to rethink things, to reimagine things."

And businesses are certainly free to do so and negotiate with their employees for better, more flexible work environments. The tight labor market certainly is giving workers more leverage.

If modernization inevitably leads to people getting as much (or more) work done in fewer hours than they did in the past, then shorter workweeks are an awesome byproduct. We're certainly not going to complain about people having to work less. That's one of the great things about innovation. It frees people up to do more with their time, like developing more innovations that may in the future make life even better for us all.

However, it's not something that can be ordered top down via fiat by government officials who don't have to deal with the consequences. A.B. 2932 doesn't even have a ramping-up phase or a time-frame. If the law is passed as written, once it goes into effect, businesses will be expected to just change. Even the California Chamber of Commerce's complaint isn't fundamentally about having workers work less, though that's certainly going to be a problem for many businesses, particularly those with lower margins that serve consumers seven days a week. The Chamber's concern is that this bill is written so poorly and inflexibly that it's simply oblivious to the consequences.

Also particularly telling is that A.B. 2932 exempts businesses that have collective bargaining agreements with employees, meaning businesses that are unionized. Garcia attempts to explain this away in the Los Angeles Times by saying, "I like to think of this as a floor, and oftentimes our bargaining agreements are better."

But that explanation doesn't make any sense. If collective bargaining agreements often lead to better work environments than this, the exemption wouldn't be needed at all. It seems as though part of the bill's point is to push large companies into embracing unionization if they want to continue with their usual workweeks.

This isn't a new thing. Previous efforts to raise the minimum wage in California that are supported by labor unions have often been paired with efforts by the same labor unions to exempt themselves from these rules. It would be a shame if something happened to your company's business model. Wouldn't you be better off working with union agreements so you don't have to worry about having to follow this rigid, poorly written bill?

That's assuming the bill goes anywhere. It was introduced in February and sent to the Labor and Employment Committee, but no hearings on the bill have yet been scheduled.

NEXT: Illinois Will Fine Gas Stations That Don't Advertise Delayed Gas Tax Hike

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  1. its a crap law and if a bill is good for company over 500 it should be good for every company and also no carve outs for unions. they be protecting unions again why not protect us all

    1. Right the whole purpose of this is to get companies to Unionize or die a death of a thousand micro-managing regulations.

    2. they be protecting unions again why not protect us all

      How big is your union?

    3. These would be the same unions whose collective bargaining skills are so great they're allowed to have their members paid below the state minimum wage? Between that and this, they've thrown off any pretense of being anything but a protection racket, mafia style.

    4. It's a wonderful law that California should immediately pass.

      1. No, seriously. First it cripples most California businesses, and then it encourages everyone at every unionized workplace to push for decertification.

      2. I agree. I'd love to see California do this to themselves.

  2. Forcing companies to spend 20% more on labor will surely reduce inflation.

    1. Probably, because there will be 40% fewer companies in CA.

      1. And when next year California passes a free range employee law refusing goods made in states with arcane 40 hour work week rules as inhumane?

        1. So, California voting economic sanctions on itself? That sounds delightful!

    2. Best to eliminate the democrats instead.

  3. Speaking of exemptions, does it cover the legislature, since together they employee over 500?
    (which is how the feds got out of Obama care for staffers)

  4. The day the bill passes, everybody is fired. Please line up on the right to apply for any of our new jobs at a new rate of pay.

    Or everybody is fired; please apply for your old job, now part time for 20 hours a week. You can job share with your coworker for his 20 hour a week job, and get paid for two 20/wk jobs.

    Or "Hast la Vista, Baby!", See you in TX or FL or anywhere but here.

    1. Bonus : 20 weeks don’t come with bennies.

      1. That's exactly what obamacare did for people.

        Friends who worked at Target and another large retailer never got more than 20 hours after obamacare when they were normally scheduled for close to 40 before. They had to get second jobs, usually having scheduling hassles because of it.

        Nobody wanted to pay the obamacare penalties, so they were adamant you not even get close to the mandated thresholds. Same would happen here. No more full time if full time is 32 hours with 40 hour pay and benefits.

        1. I thought Obamacare made companies give employees benefits if they had more than a certain number of people working a certain number of hours, to avoid that workaround.

          I could be mistaken, though.

  5. The cost to legislators to write a bill. Zero. The amount of "goodwill" for poorly informed voters, priceless.

    1. The unintentional impact on those who can afford to be affected the least? Oh, uh ... sorry about that.

      1. What do you mean "UNintended"?

  6. Mandate the benefits of innovation, then the innovations will follow.
    I guess

  7. It's cute when everyone thought they would stop at $15 Now!

    1. Come on, man, it was a floor!

    2. Non progs should move into a ,lower populated blue state and take it over. Stripping out garbage lawns and regulations. Plus remove all woke considerations. That would be fun.

      1. We couldn't organize moving to a mostly red state and taking it over. See Also: Free State Project.

        Though, shit. New Mexico is considered a "blue" state these days and we've only got 2.1 million people here. (It's kinda like when someone adds "and a half" to their height and you know, without even thinking about what the actual number was, that they're short, states that mention the ".1 million" are low population. 😉 ) Which is, admittedly, more than New Hampshire, but it's neither A.) A Frozen Hell for a significant part of the year, nor B.) Fucking Surrounded. The Free State Project in New Hampshire never had a chance against Massachusetts being right next door. I'm glad New Mexico isn't right next to California, too, because without the buffer of Arizona (which is also technically a blue state these days) we'd be completely fucked.

        And I'd certainly welcome a huge influx of liberty minded folks. It's cheap! Though with the price of building materials right now making the cost of expanding housing worse, it probably wouldn't be for long if a bunch of people moved here.

  8. The exceptions tell the whole message.

    Employers: If you want your employees to continue working a 40 hour week, then welcome the unions.

    Employees: If you want to work 40 hours, then sign up a union card or take a 20% pay cut.

    1. What % cut does the union get?

      1. Don’t forget 10% for the Big Guy.

    2. No 20% pay cuts - - - -
      "The bill doesn't stop there, though. A.B. 2932 also requires that the compensation levels for people covered by the bill remain the same. So, an hourly employee currently working 40 hours a week would have to receive the same amount of pay for working 32 hours a week, essentially forcing employers to raise all their wages."

      1. Or just hold they're wages steady for the next two-three years and let inflation create the pay cut.

  9. Hmm.... Keep paying them by the hour or make them all exempt...

    1. Except you can't really do that either.

  10. Would I also get hourly masturbation breaks in the non-gendered restroom?

    1. The way it's going, you won't have to hide in the non-gendered restroom!

      1. As long as you scream "I'm a woman" everytime someone looks over at you stroking your cock.

    2. " I also get hourly masturbation breaks"

      Those are rookie numbers in this racket.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wM6exo00T5I

  11. Garcia was a math teacher and Low's claim to fame is he's GAYsian and as Barbie said "Math is too hard".

  12. Sounds about right. Libtards suck at math. The state has atrocious taxes and is going broke, but now they want to reduce work hours. Morons and entitlement all wrapped up in one state. They should call it "The Virus State" with all the people moving from it and trying to spread the same stupidity they fled.

  13. A bit confusing? Union contracts probably spell out something like "$25 per hour" for a certain job grade. So, if Unions are exempt, then employer gets to hold them to the contract. If they want to work only 32 hours, then contract says $25 per hour. So they need to keep working 40 hours to get the same gross pay. Union workers might object when the non-union office folks get to keep the same pay but get one day a week off.

  14. Is there some rule that every Democrat has to be economically inept?

    1. I think they self-sort.

  15. "Here.. Let me STAMP that PRICE-TAG on your forehead and SELL YOU FOR X-AMOUNT of HOURS.....", that day you realize you are but a 'slave' of the Slavery Party (Democrats).

  16. Studies have shown that a 4 day week is as productive as 5 day weeks.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/business-57724779

    1. We all love studies.

    2. If I remember right, the studies don't take into account type of work. If you're a janitor, for example, slightly lower efficiency doesn't matter, because I need the floor swept every day at the same time. If I need someone to mind my store, often I'm hiring at the warm body level of qualification. Efficiency doesn't translate to higher profits in those contexts.

    3. "It is known!"

    4. The Science!

  17. I already work under 40 with benefits. Amazon has a wonderfully flexible schedule.

    1. I think this might be the first time I've ever seen anyone say something positive about working for Amazon.

      Last mile delivery guys, long haul guys, warehouse people at various levels, software developers and other tech people from the early 2000s and up, basically every aspect of it, someone said the work environment sucked.

      Interesting to hear something else.

  18. Newly elected South Korean president Yoon:

    "Workers should be allowed to work 120 hours a week and then take a good rest."

  19. Plenty of first world countries do this without detriment.

    1. Only a few countries have experimented with optional four day work weeks, and only two have tried to implement it while keeping total pay constant.

      Whether there is "no detriment" is unknown at this point. And all of those countries already have a lower standard of living than the US to begin with.

      In other words, you live in a fantasy world.

    2. Going to agree completely with NOYB2. I've been in another first world country and even there the standard of living was less than it is in the US. They worked a little less, but wages were seriously reduced (at one point, a family member working the equivalent of 12 hour shifts was making $2. per hour when all was said and done.

      It's obvious that it's a union shakedown from the government when unions are exempt in the bill. Unions shouldn't need special carve outs from government if they're worth the benefits they bring.

      I wouldn't mind a 32 hour work week as the cap (even without the pay constancy), the idea that this would not have any detrimental impact is pure fantasy. Can it be done? Sure, eventually. Will business do it without the government mandate? A snowball's chance in hell.

    3. Fascism is fun. We get to try all these experiments on people. Wheeeeeee!!!!!

  20. It's a conundrum. I was an employer for over four decades, and there was a constant problem with finding GOOD help. Warm bodies are a dime a dozen, although even warm bodies are scarce these days.

    Actual capable employees who will show up every day and do their job conscientiously are always in short supply. Having then work 32 hours instead of 40, exacerbates the shortage.

    Yes, modern economies are very efficient. On a level playing field, where everyone was equally competent and reliable, a 32 hour work week would be a no brainer. But the playing field is not level, and not everyone is equally competent.

    1. Minus the part about worshiping Gov-God's for the permission to work one's own desired schedule or at one's own desired wage.

      A long lost principle of Individual Liberty and Justice for all.

  21. The first day after this law passes you can expect a passel of 60-day closure notices from businesses of all sizes throughout the state. California is already an onerous business environment, this will be the icing on the cake.

  22. Cool, but it needs a catchy name. They can call it the California Corporate Exodus Act of 2022.

  23. Pikers. I wanna mandate a 1 hour work week. That can be fulfilled while sleeping or watching tv.

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