Throughout modern human history, the idea of the weekend off—wherein employees enjoy two consecutive days off each week—has emerged.
The majority of individuals pre-industrial revolution worked on their own farms or in small companies and had no understanding of the concept of a set workweek. Nonetheless, workdays grew longer and more structured in the 19th century as a result of the growth of factory employment and industrialization. In the late 1800s, a normal workweek in the United States consisted of six days and 12 to 16 hours of work every day.
Early in the 20th century, when social reformers and labor unions battled for improved working conditions and shorter workweeks, the concept of weekends off started to catch on. The first regulation requiring a weekly day off for employees was adopted in Australia in 1908, and the Ford Motor Company started offering its employees a 48-hour weekend in 1914.
Yet, the weekend off did not become a common practice in many nations until the 1920s and 1930s. The Fair Work Standards Act of 1938 set a 44-hour workweek in the US and required that any additional hours worked be compensated at time and a half. Also, the rule set a 48-hour maximum workweek as well as mandated that employers provide their staff at least one day off each week.
Since then, many nations have adopted the weekend off as a standard norm, although the precise days off change based on cultural and religious customs. The weekend occurs on Thursday and Friday in some nations, like Saudi Arabia, and on Friday and Saturday in others, like Israel. However, the weekend is typically defined as Saturday and Sunday in most Western nations.
Henry Ford’s influential action
Henry Ford, the company's creator, took a risk in 1926 by requiring his workers to perform a five-day, 40-hour workweek. The six-day, 48-hour workweek that was typical at the time of manufacturing was drastically altered by this.
Ford's choice was influenced by a number of things. First, he thought that by boosting employees' morale and well-being, shorter workweeks would boost productivity and lower turnover. Second, he believed that a five-day workweek would help employers recruit and keep skilled workers in a tight labor market. And lastly, Ford was renowned for his dedication to social welfare and his conviction that providing employees with greater time off would be advantageous to society as a whole.
For the Ford Motor Company, implementing a five-day workweek resulted in higher productivity and profits. Soon after, other businesses did the same, and by the 1930s, many American industries had adopted the five-day workweek as the standard.
Ford did not come up with the idea for a shortened workweek, but his choice to execute it on such a massive scale made the weekend off a common practice across many businesses. Most nations in the globe now follow the five-day workweek standard, with employees getting two days off every week.