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Business Law Chapter 21 Homework Would we be better off – would families be stronger

Page Count
4 pages
Word Count
919 words
Book Title
Applied Business Ethics: A Skills-Based Approach 1st Edition
Authors
Dean Bredeson
MODULE 21: Extreme Hours
Core Module Issues:
Is it reasonable for companies to require workers to put in 50, 60, or 70
hours a week?
Are extreme workweeks contributors to societal problems?
Should the Fair Labor Standards Act be modified?
Module Teaching Notes
Americans work hard. I like to begin this unit be comparing typical American and European
workweeks. Americans work longer hours and take substantially fewer vacation days than their
European counterparts.
Students tend to like to weigh in on this fact, and I usually let them. Some long for more vacation
time, and others will say that Europeans are “lazy” or “spoiled”. I can usually get some good light
hearted banter out of the group.
I next pose the question: “Do you blame long workweeks, even in part, for contributing to any
societal problems? Would we be better off would families be stronger, would people be happier,
etc. if we had more time off? And if so, would that be 'worth it'“? The group tends to have strong
opinions here as well.
An easy (as in, a single law that could be changed that would quickly reduce the number of people
working long hours) fix would be to modify the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The FLSA was passed during the Depression, and it requires that most hourly/wage earning
workers be paid 1.5 their usual wage if they work over 40 hours per week. So, a guy who makes
$10 per hour and who works a 50 hour week gets $10 for hours 1-40 and $15 for hours 41-50.
But, most salaried workers are exempt from the law, and can be required to work any number of
hours for no additional compensation.
What if the law were changed to require that ALL workers be paid time-and-a-half for overtime. I
don't argue that this is politically likely, but what if the change were made? Most organizations
would limit workweeks to 40 hours to avoid paying the additional compensation.
Would this be a sensible change? What if the overtime threshold for professional/salaried workers
was 50 hours per week?
I find that students sometimes waffle based on the type of job presented, and so the scenario looks
at four different types of workers, and examines issues related to long workweeks. The characters
are:
Diana, a doctor
Lewis, a lawyer
Carl, a coach
Penny, a police officer. Of the four, only Penny “chooses” to put in the overtime. Long hours are
expected/required of the other three characters.
Discussion Points for Scenario Questions
1. Should any of the employers in the scenario take steps to reduce the extreme workweeks of
their employees? If so, which ones, and why?
A. YES WHICH EMPLOYERS?
2. Looking at the NFL assistant coach specifically, is there anything different about his
position? Is his team more justified in expecting a long workweek from him based on the fact
that its direct competitors are working extremely long hours? Or is that irrelevant? Is a law firm
that expects long hours of associates because it can simply make more money as justified?
A. COMPETITION MAKES A DIFFERENCE WHY?
B. NO DIFFERENCE ARE “WINS” AND “PROFITS” EQUIVALENT?
3. Should the government amend the FLSA to require additional compensation for all kinds of
workers who put in an average of more than 50 hours a week and require employers to pay more
for longer hours?
A. YES WOULDN'T THAT MAKE AMERICA LESS COMPETITIVE? AND
WHAT IF WORKERS WANT TO WORK MORE, BUT THEIR COMPANIES
WON'T ALLOW IT?
4. Are countries in Western Europe right to create laws that require several weeks of paid
vacation per year, or do such policies place them at a competitive disadvantage? Should the
United States have a legally required minimum number of vacation days? We currently have no
law in this areashould we have some minimum? Maybe two weeks paid time off?
A. REQUIRE MORE VACATION WOULDN'T THAT MAKE AMERICA LESS
COMPETITIVE? HOW MANY DAYS
5. Do you believe that extreme hours are harmful to people and families, or does it seem like
people make it work and do just fine? Are you concerned or unconcerned about your own ability
to balance work and the rest of your life?
A. CONCERNED DO YOU FAVOR THE FSLA CHANGE? IF NOT, IS THERE
SOME OTHER CHANGE IN LAW/CORPORATE CULTURE THAT YOU
WOULD FAVOR?

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