A shorter workweek is making its debut in Latin America.
Next month, the Dominican Republic will introduce a six-month pilot program for some private and public companies. Employees will cut their full-time workweek from 44 to 36 hours while retaining their existing paycheck.
The government’s announcement doesn’t specifically say the working hours will happen only Monday through Thursday, but that “workers will receive 100% of their salary, with a reduction of 20% of your day and maintaining 100% productivity.”
Participants include four major businesses, including telecom company Claro and construction company IMCA .
In other pilot programs, workers have expressed feeling happier and more efficient during a shorter workweek. And employers have revenue growth.
The Dominican Republic is pioneering the a shorter workweek in the region — but there is already evidence suggesting the schedule provides benefits on multiple levels.
The four-day workweek has been successful elsewhere
The Dominican Republic will be the first Caribbean country to test a shorter workweek, according to the country’s Ministry of Labor.
The program is backed by the government, and a local university will track the health, work-life balance, and productivity of participating employees.
The labor ministry said in a press release that the program “prioritizes people, improving health and well-being, and promoting a sustainable and environmentally friendly productivity.”
Over the summer, 4 Day Week Global released findings on pilot programs in US, Australia, and the United Kingdom. The New Zealand-based nonprofit reported that a third of employees said they felt less workplace intensity and were less likely to leave their jobs. Participating companies saw a 15% revenue increase.
Shorter working hours — or eliminating Fridays altogether — also helped companies retain at-home workers and workers with children.
The Dominican Republic’s pilot program mirrors a 2022 trial in the UK involving over 60 companies. According to the World Economic Forum, the UK trial improved employee morale and enhanced worker recruitment. Revenue remained largely unchanged across companies, but workers reported less burnout and took 65% fewer sick days. So far, 30% of the companies have adopted a four-day workweek permanently, and over half have continued the four-day schedule beyond the initial trial period.
Chile is now reducing required working hours from 45 to 40 by 2028, with a similar phased workweek reduction planned in Colombia. A bill was also introduced last year in Mexico’s Congress to shorten the workweek.
Some US companies have even experimented with a 4.5-day workweek.
In the US, there is a movement to write a 32-hour workweek into federal law.
Democratic Rep. Mark Takano is the lead sponsor of a bill that was referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce last spring. The bill would adjust the Fair Labor Standards Act to allow all American workers a four-day work schedule, ensuring that any hours worked beyond the 32-hour requirement would be eligible for overtime pay.
The future of Takano’s bill is not yet clear.
Other lawmakers, like Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, have also voiced support for a shorter workweek.
The Dominican Republic trial will provide more global data on how a shorter workweek impacts both employees and employers. The program will evaluate any changes in revenue, as well as shifts in worker health and wellbeing.
Most four-day workweek programs are voluntary for companies, and many countries have no legislation that requires a shorter workweek. With continued positive data, it’s possible that the US and other countries could see the shorter workweek implemented into law.