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How the 40 Hour Work Week Came into Being

It was not a thing for workers to work for 40 hours a day. You will still have some workers who work for over 48 hours in a week with the set working hours being 40 hours, which is 8 hours a day for five days. From this site, you will discover more on the events that led to the 40 hour work week.

In 1817, a Welsh manufacturer proposed a day to be divided into three equal 8-hour sections. One would be for working, the other one for recreation and the other one for rest. Many of the nations in Europe did not like the idea, but later in the US, it gained popularity. The Congress implemented the law, but the employers didn’t appreciate it.

A section of workers in Illinois requested the Legislature to reduce the working hours to 8 hours in a day in 1867. The law was passed, but there are those who could sign a deal with their employers for longer hours. Many were not excited by this, and it led to a massive strike in Chicago on the 1st of May, and this spread to other nations in Europe. In 1869, President Ulysses S. Grant, signed a deal that assured a stable wage and eight working hours for the government employees.

In the 1870s and 1880s, we had the action of the labor organizations and trade unions who continued to push for the 40-hour working week, with a strike each year on the 1st of May. In 1886, there was a strike with 300,000 people turning out and this led to injuries and deaths of the workers and the police in Chicago.

In the year 1914, we had the Ford Motor Company granting their workers 8 hours of work in a day with increased wages, but they stilled worked on Saturdays. This company could send people to evaluate the homes of their employees to see whether they deserved the better wages. By 1916, we had more companies that accepted to reduce the working hours to 40 hours in a week. It thus led to a strike of 4 million American workers who had not received this right.

Until 1937, the General Motors Company had not implemented the eight working hours and a stable wage for their workers. The working conditions were also poor. The working hours of the workers of the GMC were reduced when they went on a strike during the Great Depression.

In 1938, President Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) which saw the working hours in a week to be 44. The Congress later amended this to 40 working hours.