Maryland Considering 4-Day Workweek—A Huge Win for Parents

The state would offer incentives to companies for trying out a 32-hour workweek, which could be key for parents and families.

Working businesswoman at home with baby.

Guille Faingold / Stocksy

Over the course of the last few years and amidst a global pandemic, so much has changed for families, including remote work. But one thing that forever remains constant for parents—there's just never enough time.

Working the traditional 9-to-5 job with children in school or daycare leaves precious little together time for families during the week. A new Maryland bill is looking to shake up the traditional workweek and as a mom of three, my vote is yes, please!

Legislators in Maryland's Democratic-controlled House and Senate are considering a bill that would offer state tax credits to companies that agree to try out a 32-hour workweek. The conditgion: employers would not reduce their full-time employees' weekly pay, which is based on 40 hours of work. Participatin companies do have the opportunity to decide how they subsidize the time. This could result in an actual four-day workweek, or a five-day week with shorter hours, depending on what's best for them.

Benefits of a Four-Day Workweek

While prior studies on the four-day workweek weren't conducted specifically for parents or caregivers, there are obviously huge benefits from a family perspective. Rather than having to use personal or vacation time for things such as doctor's appointments, parents would have the opportunity to use the additional workday to get everyday tasks done. That means weekends could be more family-focused. With more time, the stress of the workload outside of the traditional job would undoubtedly be lowered.

With the high cost of child care and the scarcity of available spots, this could also be a way to reduce caregiving expenses. At a time when inflation is at an all-time high and grocery bills are skyrocketing, this could mean impactful savings for many families.

This is not the first time a four-day workweek has been proposed in the United States. The nonprofit community 4 Day Week Global recently conducted a trial of the shorter workweek among over 60 different companies and almost 3,000 employees. It found the majority of the companies experienced a boost in both revenue and productivity.

“A four-day workweek would benefit everyone in an organization," says human resources executive Camille Wall, MBA. "Employers may find that productivity rates increase, the overhead decreases, and it really forces leaders to prioritize the work.”

Likewise, employees reported lower levels of stress, fatigue, insomnia, and burnout, as well as improvements in physical and mental health. Employees also did not feel an increase in the intensity of their workload.

“A major positive in instituting a four-day workweek, especially one that is subsidized by the state as Maryland proposes, would be a win for the employer because they wouldn’t have to pay for that extra 8 hours per week; the employee benefits because they still get paid for working 8 hours less," Wall adds. "At the end of the day, the focus should be on what’s best for the employees, because they are the foundation of the organization.”  

As parents, we deserve the chance to give our children the best version of ourselves. The reality is the traditional workday often does not provide that opportunity. Once we are finished tackling our jobs for the day, we are rushed into a whirlwind of homework, after-school activities, dinner, and errands. In the midst of trying to "do it all," parents often put themselves on the back burner, leaving no time for things that make them happy as individuals—fitness, wellness, or self-care. Everyone deserves real downtime.

“Since the pandemic, many of us spend more than eight hours per week just in meetings (virtual or in person), so eliminating that time and really prioritizing the actual work to be done to move the work forward would be amazing,” Wall says. “Zoom and Teams fatigue is real, and I’m a firm believer that many meetings really could have just been an email.”

Here's hoping Maryland passes the four-day workweek bill and more states follow that lead!

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