The Standard Work Week Hasn’t Changed In Over A Century And It’s All Thanks To This Person

The standard work week is 5 days broken out into 8-hour shifts totaling 40 hours of work. You get your Saturday/Sunday weekend to recharge your batteries, then on Monday, you’re back at it. Taking this further, ‘two weeks paid vacation’ is the norm for most full-time employees across America. Many people get a lot more vacation than that, a shit ton of people don’t get any paid vacation at all.

This is the way our country works, and it hasn’t changed in over 100 years.

History often attributes the 5-hour work week to Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company, because he instituted this practice in his automobile factories beginning in 1914. As it turns out, Henry Ford was beaten to the punch by a woman, a woman who just so happens to be my great great grandmother.

Rose Knox was head of the Knox Gelatine Company. You can still find Knox Gelatine at the grocery store. It’s basically Jell-O without the flavoring. A female CEO was unheard of back then but Rose Knox built Knox Gelatine into one of the most successful companies in America during that time in history. She did this, in part, by mailing out a collection of Knox Gelatine recipes compiled into a catalog, similar to what we’d now think of as a cookbook.

Anyways, Rose Knox beat Henry Ford to the 5-day work week by instituting the 5-day, 40-hour work week in 1913, a year before Henry Ford rolled this out in his factories. Furthermore, she also began offering her employees 10 days of paid vacation that same year, something she also beat Henry Ford to instituting.

While at the Knox Gelatine helm, Rose made a number of revolutionary changes involving labor relations. In 1913, she instituted a five-day work week along with two weeks’ paid vacation a year and paid sick leave. This was a pioneering move, and something that was completely unheard of before. She also rode out the Great Depression, without having to lay off any employees, by smartly cutting costs. In fact, Knox Gelatine grew at a rate of five percent per year which was no easy feat in those desperate years. (via)

How in the fuck has something that was instituted in factories back in 1913 managed to stick this long???????? Why are we still working the same 5-day work weeks with 10-days of paid vacation? I work Monday to Friday, but often put in 50-60 hour weeks instead of 40, but I’m still confined to this same structure that was pioneered back in 1913?!? Can’t we adapt to the times? Am I the only person that’s extremely frustrated by this?

Cass Anderson avatar
Cass Anderson is the Editor-in-Chief of BroBible. He covers an array of topics including NFL, Pop Culture, Fishing News, and the Outdoors.