In the midst of unprecedented numbers of job departures being dubbed “The Great Resignation,” many employers are seeking creative ways to retain or attract new talent. One hot topic in the discourse? The four-day workweek. Common for years among those in the healthcare profession, the four-day workweek is being discussed by employers in other sectors. If your business is considering transitioning to a four-day workweek, here are a few things to consider.
- First, and foremost, clarity of messaging as to what is meant by a “four-day workweek” is key. Examples of important questions to ask during this process would be “Will your business be closed on one weekday every week?” and “Will your employees work 40 hours, 32, or some other number in those four days?” Clarity of message from the outset can assist both the employer and its employees operating from the same page to smooth the transition. Additionally, the employer should meet with the employees to discuss how existing performance metrics can be maintained with the shorter workweek.
- Next, consider the effect this change will have on customers. Two of the most important metrics for any business are productivity and customer service; hours of operation can impact both. When considering the hours of operation for your business, carefully weigh whether a staggered schedule of your employees to ensure that there is adequate coverage Monday through Friday might be a better approach versus closing the business one day each week. However, if your business has a particular day where customer traffic is low, perhaps it would be best to close on that day each week.
- Another important consideration for any four-day work week, especially those that expect the employees to work 10-hour days instead of 8, is the applicable wage and hour laws. Some states require overtime pay after a daily threshold of 8 hours is crossed, in addition to the well-known 40 hours per week one. Consult with either HR or an employment attorney to ensure compliance with all applicable wage and hour laws.
- A less common, but still very important consideration: unions. Many collective bargaining agreements specify the workweek, and a unilateral alteration to the traditional Monday through Friday workweek by the employer may not be allowed. Any employer subject to a collective bargaining agreement that is considering a switch to a four-day workweek needs to do so in partnership with the employee union.
- Finally, try it out! As with any substantive change in your business, a trial run is well advised. This will allow the employer to obtain real data to gauge where modifications of policies, staffing, and workload distribution may be necessary. It will also allow for actual data regarding customer service and productivity to determine whether any other course corrections are necessary.
At Luchansky Law, we routinely assist employers with all facets of the implementation of policies and procedures, including those for a four-day workweek. If your business would like assistance in implementing a transition to a four-day workweek, give us a call at (410) 522-1020 to set up an appointment with one of our attorneys.