The Four-Day Work Week: Old Lessons, New Questions

Bird, Robert C.
May 2010
Connecticut Law Review;May2010, Vol. 42 Issue 4, p1059
The four-day work week is quickly gaining popularity. The blogosphere is alive with pages describing numerous benefits and recommending it as a practice whose time has come. With Utah's adoption of the four-day work week, as well as numerous government and private entities considering the shift, "Thank God It's Thursday" appears poised to become a characteristic of the modern workplace. Not so fast. The fact remains that the four-day work week is not particularly novel, questionably beneficial, and far from inevitable. Academics and practitioners alike were no less enthusiastic about the fourday work week in the early 1970s. Interest faded as quickly as it appeared. The litany of academic studies reporting mixed results that followed beg the question of whether this radical experiment should be tried again. Yet, new interest in energy and conservation benefits may give a new lease on the four-day work week. It is this issue, as well as some modern and sophisticated research on the subject, that show the four-day work week's renewed promise. Proponents of the four-day work week can look optimistically toward the future, but they must also consider carefully the lessons of a similar movement that peaked and fizzled just a generation ago.


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