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California bill aims to shorten workweek to 32 hours for large companies

The California Chamber of Commerce called the bill a job killer.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A California bill aims to create a 32-hour workweek. 

Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) said it’s not about getting back to normal after the pandemic. It’s about getting back to better.

Tyren Hicks, of Sacramento, said he's sold and already ready to sign up. 

“That gives us one day to handle our business, get everything done that needs to be done during the week, because I know a lot of professional places, in-store places, are closed on the weekend,” Hicks said. 

The doctors' appointments, bank runs and general errands he’d be able to accomplish are not the only selling points for him.

“It would give us a better spiritual mind,” Hicks said. 

Assemblywoman Garcia’s bill to shorten the workweek would apply to companies with more than 500 employees.

“This is a starting point for a discussion about how we reimagine the workweek,” she said. 

However, her bill does not come without opposition. The California Chamber of Commerce listed the bill as a job killer. 

In a letter they sent to lawmakers, it said, “AB 2932’s impact on labor costs in California will discourage job growth in the state and likely reduce opportunities for workers."

Garcia said the great migration and worker shortages should be red flags for employers. 

“Employees are making it clear that they want a better quality of life," Garcia said. "They're asking for more flexibility. They're prioritizing mental health, physical health and emotional health out there. I think, in part, it's why you're seeing over 47 million people who have left their workplace employment voluntarily to try to find better opportunities out there."

The California Chamber of Commerce said the costs added for employers would not be sustainable for many businesses. 

"This language may be interpreted as requiring the employer to pay the employee the same total compensation that they are presently earning at 40 hours for 32 hours of work," the chamber said in the letter to lawmakers. "By way of example, an employee making $20 per hour presently makes $800 after 40 hours of work. Now, they would be required to make $800 after just 32 hours of work, meaning their hourly rate would become $25 per hour, a 25% increase. If the employer needs the employee to work overtime, the regular rate of pay, becomes $37.50 per hour. A business would be paying $37.50 for every hour worked on the fifth day, an 87.5% increase from $20 per hour."

The chamber does, however, support other changes to the workweek like allowing workers more flexibility, such as changes like letting workers skip lunch breaks to leave early.

The bill does not have a committee hearing date set yet. 

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