On This Day – May 1st

American automaker, Henry Ford, and his company shaped American life in the early twentieth century in many ways.  Providing affordable automobiles to the masses was not the only way it left its mark on the country, though.  It also shaped the American work week.    

For instance, Ford Motor Company reduced the work days during the week from the typical six at the time down to five in 1922.  Ford promoted it as providing more time for rest, relaxation, recreation for its workers, although it also expected more productivity from those workers in the five days that remained.  The Monday-through-Friday work week was thus born, and many American companies followed in Ford’s footsteps, thereby establishing the five-day workweek as the standard.

A few years later on May Day – May 1st, 1926 to be more precise — Ford also became one of the first large American companies to adopt what has become the standard forty-hour workweek too.  Years later, in fact, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act, which placed limits on working hours and made Ford’s forty-hour work week the standard across the nation.

So, while it may be a bit ironic to celebrate the forty-hour workweek this year, as a reported 26-million Americans have become unemployed due to the Covid-19 outbreak, were you really going to dance around a maypole to welcome Spring today anyway?

Photo by Chaman Kumar from Pexels

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