Four-Day Week

August 11, 1971

Report Outline
Rising Interest in Shorter Workweek
Workweek Reform: Past and Present
Benefits and Drawbacks of Changeover

Rising Interest in Shorter Workweek

Rising Interest in Shorter Workweek

Hundreds of american firms have recently converted some or all of their work schedules to a four-day week, many more small companies are expected to follow suit soon, and pressures for a four-day week are rising in two major industries—automobile and steel production. As a result, enthusiasts for the changeover are hailing the four-day week as the workweek of the future. Some do not stop there, but view the four-day week as a mere way station on the road to a three-day week. A few companies have, in fact, already instituted this dream week in which there are more days to play than days to work.

Workweek watchers differ in their estimates of the strength or pace of the movement toward fewer workdays. But none denies that interest is mounting rapidly. Employers, workers, and government officials are all taking particular notice of a movement that seems to have sprung suddenly out of nowhere. Labor union leaders are interested, too, though chary of a return to the long workday of the sweatshop era, even if the worker is compensated with an extra day off each week.

Whether or not the four-day week will ultimately prevail as the norm for the nation, recent developments in work scheduling are significant, for they are symptomatic of a breakaway from the fixed pattern of Monday-Friday work which governs the life of nearly all Americans. Numerous different new combinations of worktime are being tried out to fit the needs of individual companies or to please particular groups of workers. “All the attention and publicity generated by workweek innovations indicate that changes in work patterns are in the offing,” Business Week commented. Among the changes from the prevailing standard, a workweek of four 9-or 10-hour days appears to be the favored plan at this time. The magazine noted further that “the novelty of a shorter workweek coupled with glowing testimonials from the participants is forcing management to take a look whether it is ready or not.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Work Week
Jun. 12, 1987  Part-Time Work
Feb. 28, 1973  Leisure Business
Apr. 19, 1972  Productivity and the New Work Ethic
Aug. 11, 1971  Four-Day Week
Dec. 09, 1964  Leisure in the Great Society
Jun. 13, 1962  Shorter Hours of Work
Feb. 17, 1960  Sunday Selling
May 08, 1957  Four-Day Week
Dec. 03, 1954  Shorter Work Week
Mar. 05, 1948  Hours of Work and Full Production
Jul. 05, 1944  Hours of Work After the War
Nov. 16, 1942  Hours of Work in Wartime
Jan. 17, 1936  The Thirty-Hour Week
Mar. 10, 1932  The Five-Day Week and the Six-Hour Day
May 23, 1929  The Five-Day Week in Industry
Labor Standards and Practices