MD lawmakers push legislation for possible four-day work week, business experts weigh in

MARYLAND – “We see it really as a win-win for both the employer and the employee,” Senator Hettleman said.

It’s the possibility of a four-day work week, as Senate Bill 197 was recently introduced to the Maryland General Assembly. It would create a five-year pilot program for interested businesses with 30 or more employees.

Bill Sponsor Senator Shelly Hettleman says similar models have already seen much success internationally. “What folks have found is that it is very successful in attracting employees and increasing productivity and efficiency for the businesses,” Senator Hettleman said.

Senator Hettleman tells us this forward-thinking approach will not only bolster the pipeline of professionals statewide but help adapt to a workforce that continues to evolve. “Our workplace today is really different from when the 40-hour work week was put into statute. That was back in 1940,” Senator Hettleman said.

“We have a 24/7 ability to do work now. We have our phones, our computers, and so many people are working virtually now. We literally don’t have a line between work and home.”

Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce President Bill Chambers says there’s both pros and cons to this model. He tells us one thing it isn’t is a one-size fits all solution. “And you still have to keep production at a high level whether you’re a customer service-oriented business, manufacturing, tourism or hospitality. You have to do all this while maintaining exactly the same workload,” Chambers said.

“How will this impact unionized workers and how does this effect hourly workers?”

As an incentive, the bill would also provide qualifying companies a tax credit determined by the Department of Labor in exchange for reducing work hours from 40 to 32.

It’s something Chambers says will come at cost. “It’s going to cost the state and it’s going to cost the taxpayers of this state. Anytime we have incentive programs that involve tax credits or breaks that money isn’t coming into the coffers,” Chambers said.

The bill was heard early this month and Senator Hettleman says there was much interest.  She says she’s heard from many in the business community about the need to create a better home and work life balance for Marylanders.

Senator Hettleman says details on how the tax credit would be disbursed are still in the works as they’re still discussing the matter with the Department of Labor.

The bill currently awaits consideration in the Senate finance committee.

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