The forty hour work week is only a compromise between indentured servitude and a healthy amount of work a person can do in one week. It isn’t an ideal number of hours for human labor in one week, nor is it a good ruler with which to measure how long one should spend working each week.
If the number of hours an hourly worker needed before s/he receives overtime was shortened to 30 or 35 hours per week, there would be a number of benefits to society:
- Increased income for those who do have high amounts of time/energy to devote to earning income.
- Higher value placed on time taken away from family.
- More companies who have employees who decide to opt out of the overtime in order to more effectively raise a family.
- More individuals who would have time to do volunteer work in areas that don’t earn income, but would benefit our world.
- A new ruler against which to measure the appropriate hours a salaried worker should be working.
- More think time to see the big picture of human existence (and better plan one’s position within it).
Here are some reasons I can think that anyone (in power) wouldn’t want a shorter work week.
- More think time to see the big picture of human existence.
- They think that hiring two people each to do 50% of a job would mean less profit — but I’m thinking it would actually mean greater efficiency of both workers. I’m guessing that more than 2 people’s worth of work could get done, or that mistakes or accidents would decline.
- Workers are better at not complaining if they don’t see the big picture (but less efficient, too, since they’re typically pushed beyond the boundary of diminishing returns).
- Fewer entrepreneurs to compete against.