Money·3 min read

What Could a Four-Day Work Week Mean for Your Paycheck?

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Design: theSkimm | Photo: iStock
July 12, 2022

The four-day work week is gaining momentum. Thanks to a successful trial that launched in 2015, it’s already a thing for many employees in Iceland where 86% of the population is on the verge of getting a shorter work week permanently. And thousands of people in the UK are currently experimenting with a four-day work week. The US is slowly starting to get in on shorter work weeks, too (hi, California). Here’s what a four-day work week could mean for your bank account if your employer hops on board.

Back up. Where did the four-day work week idea come from?

The COVID-19 pandemic helped shed light on the importance of work-life balance. Which, in part, inspired the launch of the 4 Day Week Global program

How would a four-day work week impact productivity? 

A Stanford study found that productivity decreases when people work longer hours. Because burnout. In theory, a four-day work week would mean that you’d work fewer days while maintaining the same workload. What could that look like in reality? Buffer, a company that made the switch to a four-day work week in May 2020, made a few tweaks to maintain employees’ productivity levels. Like swapping meetings for message threads, and adjusting project deadlines. Buh bye, long Zoom meetings.  

What could a four-day work week mean for my paycheck? 

Here’s the good news: If you’re a salaried employee, a four-day work week would likely mean you get more time off while receiving the same pay. In other words, no change to your regular paycheck. If you’re an hourly employee, here could be changes to overtime pay.  Unless overtime requirements adjust to a new four-day work week standard. Currently, in California, working more than eight hours in one day means you get paid for overtime.  But other states may have to make adjustments. Because they require companies to pay overtime to employees who work more than 40 hours in one week.    

Are shorter work weeks improving work-life balance?

In Iceland, workers say the shorter work week has meant less burnout and more time for hobbies and family activities. So you shouldn’t necessarily plan to spend a fifth day in the office. Because work-life balance. However,Buffer leaders say some employees chose to spend part of their Fridays off working and taking care of tasks they couldn’t squeeze into the four-day work’s why you need to remember to use that vacation time. 

So when are four-day work weeks coming to the US?

They’re already here. Some employers have already made a four-day work week the norm. Like The Wanderlust Group. The company’s founder reportedly decided to cancel Mondays during the COVID-19 pandemic. More employers are expected to follow, depending on the outcome of more trials. Fingers crossed.


Shorter work weeks are becoming more of a possibility. And it wouldn’t impact your salary. Or your workload.

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