The 4 day work week

You have probably seen the news stories (video of one is below) about how many companies and local governments in the USA are know courting the idea of the 4 day work week. Now would it surprise you that the USA is behind the rest of the world when it comes to working hours and work conditions? For example in Australia the average work week is 38 hours for full time not the 40 hours that is common in the USA. Here is the current labor law in Australia that will take affect in 2010:

10 National Employment Standards
Labor has proposed 10 National Employment Standards, to replace the Howard Government's Australian Fair Pay and Conditions Standard, covering:

1. Hours of work, mandating a 38 hour week, with reasonable additional hours.

2. Parental leave guaranteeing 12 months of unpaid leave, plus the right to request up to an additional 12 months of unpaid leave, which can only be refused on "reasonable business grounds".

3. The right to request flexible working arrangements for parents until their child reaches school age, refusal only permitted on reasonable business grounds.

4. Four weeks' paid annual leave.

5. Ten days' Personal / Carers leave, plus 2 days compassionate leave, plus 2 days unpaid leave for family responsibilities.

6. Community Service Leave, for example, unpaid leave for participation in State Emergency Service and paid leave for jury service.

7. Public holidays.

8. Employers must provide all new employees with a Fair Work Information Statement which contains prescribed information about the employee's rights and entitlements, including the right of the employee to choose whether to be or not to be a member of a union and where to go for information and assistance.

9. Termination of Employment & Redundancy, including minimum notice of termination and minimum redundancy pay.

10. Nationally consistent long service leave entitlements.

The Standards will apply to all Australian employees regardless of their industry or occupation from 1 January 2010. The Standards will operate in addition to award provisions. The Standards cannot be removed or replaced

Now compare that with the government laws in the USA covering vacations or sick time. In the USA most of those items are up to the employer only. People that are in the lower pay range cannot afford to be sick or take time off from a labor intensive job in order to recuperate because they won't get paid for it. Maybe it is time for some labor reform to come to the USA since the rest of the planet seems to be passing us by when it comes to taking care of humanity.

For more information on how other countries have defined their "work weeks" go to wikipedia here. I found an interesting little tid bit of info on there. The page points out the fact that the rest of the Western countries in Europe have a mandatory 4 to 6 weeks vacation from their employers, I would love to see that enforced in the USA. The page also goes into great detail about how the USA use to have shorter work weeks and the impact of the longer work week has on inflation.

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