HARRISBURG, Pa. (Erie News Now) — According to a recent study by 4 Day Week Global, countries like England and Iceland have shown success in terms of productivity and mental health for employees after a four-day workweek pilot program. Now, some Pennsylvania lawmakers are pushing for similar initiatives in the commonwealth.
Of the 61 companies that participated in Britain’s pilot, 56 plan to implement the concept for good after employees reported improvements with their sleep, stress and more.
“Happier and healthier workers are good workers,” said Ebru Kongar, Professor of Economics at Dickinson College in Carlisle.
Kongar says pilot results are promising for many businesses.
“What they show is worker productivity either remained the same or increased in some cases. Workers report feeling less stressed, being happier, having more work-life balance,” said Kongar.
Kongar says a four-day workweek can be especially significant in Pennsylvania, where young workers are in high demand.
“Because we have an older population, it may be easier to recruit workers competing with southern or southwestern states where the weather is warmer,” said Kongar.
Support for the concept is not only receiving attention abroad, but also inside the General Assembly.
“I think it’s the next natural evolution in the labor movement,” said Rep. Josh Siegel (D-Lehigh).
“We have to attract talent to want to come here,” said Rep. Dave Madsen (D-Dauphin).
Roughly a dozen lawmakers have already signed on to a co-sponsorship memorandum by Reps. Dave Madsen, Josh Siegel and Chris Pielli (D-Chester). The memo indicates their intention to sponsor legislation which would incentivize businesses to try out a four-day, 32-hour workweek.
“We as a state need to be looking at what makes us the most competitive. And part of that is making sure that we’re the best possible place to work,” said Siegel. “I think it’s the perfect way to reorient the balance between people being productive at their job and enjoying their job, but most importantly, making sure that their life isn’t defined by work,” he added.
The legislation would provide a $5,000 per employee tax credit, up to a maximum $250,000 per company. In other words, companies with no more than 50 employees would be eligible.
“The idea is that we’re trying to support small and medium sized enterprises. I mean, this is something that’s one of those instances where pro-business and pro-worker policies, I think, align really well,” said Siegel.
Madsen says it’s a win-win-win for Pennsylvania and that those who’d be eligible to participate have nothing to lose.
“It’s good for business, it’s good for families, it’s good for workers,” said Madsen. “It’s an incentive-based program, so if you get out the calculator as a business and it’s not working, then okay,” he added.
Madsen and Siegel say the goal is to try and help between 60-80 businesses in the commonwealth.