Posted by Col Ovik on September 9, 2023 at 5:30 AM
Col Ovik

shutterstock_276013505The need to limit the working hours per week was a necessity, but why was the 40 hour work week selected as the standard? 

I had never really given it much thought. Everyone I knew worked full-time. It was required and expected. But the 40 hour work week, is only a recent revelation. When faced with no standard or a 40 hour work week, 40 hours sounds really good. But society has come a long way since that time and maybe the “standard” is not meeting the objective. The objective being: to have a work life balance and to be your most productive during the working hours. 

Henry Ford was instrumental in pushing forward the idea to limit the work day hours. He believed that productivity could be improved if the working hours were reduced. It comes down to the law of diminishing returns. At some point, during the working day your productivity is going to drop. 

The 8 hour work day is really just an arbitrary number. No data, facts or studies were conducted to construe that number. At time the people were just happy to reduce the working hours back from the grueling 16 hour days they were required to grind out at work—who among us would not have jumped at an 8 hour work day after that. I think the slogan was: 8 hours work, 8 hours play and 8 hours sleep. So we are basing our current work schedule on a tagline? 

And how productive are we, as workers, during the 8 hour work day? How much of the 8 hour work day is spent not working? Research that suggests that by working more than 45 hours per week you will harm your health, both physically and mentally. 



It may be good time for society to re-evaluate the 40 hour work week. If the intent is to increase productivity the prudent move will be to conduct research to determine the number of hours per day an individual will be productive. States like California and Maryland have already introduced bills for a 32 hour work week with tax incentives for employers. There will be growing pains, but there always is with change, and that should not deter us from moving forward. The important thing is to keep expecting more as a society. Contact the attorneys at LifeBackLaw and see us at and let us help you get your life back.


Topics: Is working 40 hours healthy?, What is a 40-hour work schedule?, Why is working 40 hours normal?

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