Bloomberg Law
March 7, 2023, 8:30 PMUpdated: March 7, 2023, 11:49 PM

Four-Day Work Week Plan Dies as Maryland Lawmakers Backtrack (1)

Chris Marr
Chris Marr
Staff Correspondent

A first-of-its-kind proposal to encourage four-day work weeks at Maryland companies by offering them tax credits has been withdrawn from consideration at the state legislature.

The matching bills (SB 197 / HB 181) would have set up a five-year pilot program in which companies could get a tax credit for testing out a reduced work schedule with part or all of their workforce. To qualify, companies would have had to decrease weekly work hours to 32 without decreasing employees’ pay and benefits.

The House bill sponsor, Del. Vaughn Stewart (D), confirmed to Bloomberg Law in a statement Tuesday that he and his co-sponsor withdrew the bills. He said they plan instead to seek money in the state budget for Maryland’s labor department to study four-day work weeks.

“It was pretty clear to us it wasn’t going to get through this year,” Sen. Shelly Hettleman (D), the upper chamber’s bill sponsor, said by phone Tuesday. “Part of it was that this is such a new concept for many of my colleagues.”

A labor department study could address how many Maryland businesses already have a four-day work week, what kind of technical assistance the department could provide for companies that want to adopt it, and how it would look for state agencies to shorten the work week for their employees, she said. It’s possible lawmakers could come back with a new proposal next year, she added.

“There’s certainly some question about whether the tax credit is the way to go,” Hettleman said, but there could be other roles for government to play in supporting businesses that test out shorter work weeks.

The bills were inspired by the growing public interest and awareness of four-day work weeks, though the Maryland lawmakers’ tax credit proposal appears to be a unique approach to encouraging these schedules.

The 4 Day Week Global Foundation published research in November from the first of several large-scale pilot programs, showing positive results for a few dozen US and Irish companies that tested out four-day weeks last year. A director of the foundation said last month that he’s heard interest from state legislative staff around the US exploring ways to draft policy proposals.

Supporters including the Women’s Law Center of Maryland testified to two Maryland legislative committees last month about the benefits of promoting shortened work weeks, such as increased employee productivity and retention and decreased burnout and use of sick days.

The committees heard opposition from some in the business community in the hearing, including the state’s National Federation of Independent Business, whose director said using tax dollars to advance this concept could worsen the labor shortage as companies shift to employing more workers for fewer hours per week.

(Updated with comments from Sen. Shelly Hettleman in paragraphs four through six. )

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Marr in Atlanta at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at; Laura D. Francis at