Workers rejoice — Maryland could be the first US state to adopt a 4-day work week, if a bill that's just been proposed by legislators makes it into law.
The bill, known officially as the “Four Day Work Week Act of 2023”, incentivizes both private and public employers to test out three-day weekends by providing up to $750,000 in tax credits to eligible organizations per year.
With previous four-day week trials being shown to reduce levels of burnout while boosting productivity, many see the four-day work as the elixir of workplace woes. So, as the rest of the US patiently waits for their turn, here's what we know about Maryland's bill so far.
Maryland Might be Trialling Out a 4-Day Work Week
As the US continues to contend with heightened rates of burnout and stress-related illnesses, Maryland has decided to take action.
Seeking inspiration from a global 2022 study that trialed the four-day work week globally for six months, the East-coast state has recently announced a program that encourages employers to cut working hours down to 32 from 40 per week, without compromising pay.
In return for taking part in the state-sponsored program, eligible companies will receive up to $750,000 in tax credits each year, and are required to share their results with the state Department of Labor to help determine the pilot's success.
The experiment is open to both private and government entities for two years and is due to be phased out in 2028. If the bill is signed into law, the pilot will go into effect on July 1st.
Fed up with the traditional work week? These companies already offer a four-day work week.
Is the 4-day Work Week the Answer to Workplace Burnout?
Despite the popularization of flexible workplace practices brought about by the pandemic, burnout still continues to be one of the most salient issues plaguing US workers.
In fact, recent research from Future Forum suggests that worker burnout is at an all-time high, with 43% of desk-based workers claiming to have experienced the condition at some point in their professional lives. And burnout isn't affecting employees evenly, with young and female workers reportedly feeling the sting more.
“Regardless of where you are on the ideological spectrum or political party, people want to have more time off from their job.” – Del. Vaughn Stewart, Maryland State Delegate
Despite the benefits of increased leisure time and schedule flexibility, hybrid, and remote working hasn't gone far enough to tackle the epidemic either, with some studies even suggesting that employees are working longer hours from home than they do in the office.
But hope remains. According to a six-month pilot led by the non-profit 4 Day Week Global, a four-day week could be the answer to escalating burnout. The program, which was trialed by 33 businesses across the US and Ireland, found that trimming down hours worked helped to tackle stress and fatigue.
The results of this pilot helped encourage Maryland State Delegate Del, Vaughn Stewart, to run the program in his state. But as an increasing number of US legislators push to make the four-day workweek a reality, employees aren't the only ones who stand to benefit.
Fewer Hours Worked, Better Results
Aside from drastically improving the work-life balance of employees, a four-day work week can have a positive impact on productivity too — with the six-month trial resulting in higher levels of performance across the board.
“We could be on the verge of a win-win situation, where we can give workers more free time while not only doing no harm to businesses, but maybe even boosting productivity.” – Del. Vaughn Stewart, Maryland State Delegate
The companies involved in the trial cited a 38% increase in revenue too, suggesting that giving workers increased leisure time can significantly favor a business's bottom line too.
It remains to be seen whether Maryland's work experiment will be successful. Yet, with previous results looking so promising, and smart software solutions like project management software becoming even more accessible, the impetus for rolling out a four-day work couldn't be clearer.