Adam Ruins Work

Nov 15 2015

In this episode, Adam revealed how the 40-hour work week not only exhausts employees and but actually harms businesses; demonstrated that if you are working as a freelancer or an intern, your workplace is probably illegally taking advantage of you; and showed how discussing how much you make with your co-worker is actually a healthy thing for you and for the workplace. Here are his sources.


"A recent survey found employees only spend 45% of their day on primary job duties."

Lam, Bourree. "The Wasted Workday." The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 04 Dec. 2014. Web.

"A hundred years ago, most workers clocked an average of ten hours a day, six days a week."

Costa, Dora L. "The Wage and Length of the Work Day: From the 1890s to 1991." Papers and Proceedings (1998): 1-44. American Economic Association. Web.

"Back then [a hundred years ago] most workers rarely had even a single day all to themselves. Fortunately, there were two groups that fought to bring us the modern Saturday: labor unions and Jewish people."

Clark, Krissy. "A Weekend History Lesson." Weekend America. American Public Media, St. Paul, Minnesota, 24 Nov. 2007. Web.

HENRY FORD: "Also, I know who caused World War I- - the Jews!"

Baldwin, Neil. Henry Ford and the Jews: The Mass Production of Hate. New York: Public Affairs, 2001. Print.

JOHN MAYNARD KEYNES: "By 2030, we’ll be working as little as 15 hours a week."

Keynes, John Maynard. "Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren." Essays in Persuasion. New York: W.W.Norton, 1963. 358-73. Keynes on Possibilities. Yale University, 2009. Web.

RICHARD NIXON: "The 4-day workweek is inevitable."

Theis, William. “Nixon Defends 4-Day Week Claim”. The Milwaukee Sentinel. 25 Sept. 1956. Web.

"In 1968, households with two working parents put in 53 hours of work a week. By 2000, they worked 64 hours a week."

Fischer, Claude S., and Michael Hout. Century of Difference: How America Changed in the Last One Hundred Years. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2006. Print.

"We now work nearly four more weeks a year than we did in 1979."

Mishel, Lawrence. Vast majority of wage earners are working harder, and for not much more. Rep. Economic Policy Institute, 30 Jan. 2013. Web.

"Among industrial workers, overtime raises the rate of mistakes and safety mishaps by 61%."

Dembe, A E, J B Erickson, R G Delbos, and S M Banks. "The Impact of Overtime and Long Work Hours on Occupational Injuries and Illnesses: New Evidence from the United States." Occupational & Environmental Medicine 62.9 (2005): 588-97. BMJ. BMJ Publishing Group Ltd., 8 Mar. 2005. Web.

"Longer hours result in lower scores on cognitive performance tests. In other words, you are literally working your employees stupid."

Virtanen, Marianna, Archana Singh-Manoux, Jane E. Ferrie, David Gimeno, Michael G. Marmot, Marko Elovainio, Markus Jokela, Jussi Vahtera, and Mika Kivimäki. "Long Working Hours and Cognitive Function: The Whitehall II Study." American Journal of Epidemiology 169.5 (2008): 596-605. Oxford Journals. Oxford University Press, 6 Jan. 2009. Web.

"Plenty of wealthy countries have more reasonable work schedules. Luxembourg is one of the richest countries in the world, and they work on average, 146 hours less than us. Right behind them is Norway, where they work 363 hours less."

"Average Annual Hours Actually Worked per Worker." OECD.Stat. OECD, 2015. Web.

"And according to the Labor Department, internships are only legal if… it’s for the benefit of the interns, not the company; the payment isn’t just the promise of a job at the end; it doesn’t displace any regular employees; both the intern and the boss understand it’s an unpaid position; and is similar to what you’d learn in an educational environment."

Hickman, Blair, and Christie Thompson. "When Is It OK to Not Pay an Intern?" ProPublica. ProPublica Inc., 14 June 2013. Web.

"Actually, a new study suggests that unpaid interns have almost the same hiring rates as people who have never ever interned before."

National Association of Colleges and Employers. “The Class of 2014 Student Survey Report.” NACE. Sep, 2014. Web.

"A company is probably working you as a freelancer illegally if they Impose requirements over you on shift times, meetings or office attendance. Don’t give you the freedom to work for other companies. Provide you with company equipment or software. Give you specific training for your position. Or just in general, treat you like staff."

Fallon, Nicole. "Contract Workers vs. Employees: What Businesses Should Know." Business News Daily. Purch, 1 Oct. 2014. Web.

"In 1995, 93% of U.S. workers were full time or part time staff."

United States. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Monthly Labor Review. By Marisa DiNatale. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Mar. 2001. Web.

"But today, roughly one of out every three U.S. workers is freelance or temp."

Weber, Lauren. "One in Three U.S. Workers Is a Freelancer." The Wall Street Journal, 4 Sept. 2014. Web.

"By avoiding taxes, unemployment insurance, workman’s comp, and health care, you [the company] can save up to 30% on wages."

Field, Anne. "The IRS Targets Independent Contractors." Bloomberg Business. Bloomberg L.P., 22 Apr. 2010. Web.

"Stop blaming the economy. American companies make more money now than ever before."

Norris, Floyd. "Corporate Profits Grow and Wages Slide." The New York Times. The New York Times Company, 04 Apr. 2014. Web.

"Yet wages aren’t going up to match [corporate profits] because companies keep 'making sacrifices.'"

United States. Compensation of Employees: Wages & Salary Accruals/Gross Domestic Product. Economic Research. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, n.d. Web.

BENNY: "Hey! You can’t just tell people your salary like that!"

ADAM: "There are numerous reasons I can and should! In fact, by telling me I can’t, you are breaking the law!"

United States. National Labor Relations Act. National Labor Relations Board, n.d. Web.

“Employees have the right… to engage in concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.”

United States. National Labor Relations Act. National Labor Relations Board, n.d. Web.

"And this perpetuates the pay gap. For instance, African-American women make 64 cents for every dollar the average white guy makes."

United States. Income, Earnings, and Poverty Data From the 2007 America Community Survey. U.S. Census Bureau. By Alemayehu Bishaw and Jessica Semega. U.S. Department of Commerce, Aug. 2008. Web.

"About 50% of workers say discussing salaries is discouraged or prohibited."

Hegewisch, Ariane, Claudia Williams, and Robert Drago, Ph.D. "Pay Secrecy and Wage Discrimination." Institute for Women's Policy Research 16 (2014): 1-2. Jan. 2014. Web.

For More on This Topic

The Case for the 32-Hour Workweek: a short documentary from The Atlantic about Ryan Carson, a CEO whose gamble on the 32-hour work week paid off.

Erica Baker Talks About Her Grand Google Salary Transparency Experiment: this podcast episode from Re/code features an interview with Erica Baker, a former Google engineer who created the infamous salary spreadsheet.

When Salaries Aren't Secret: this podcast episode from Planet Money reports on the tech company SumAll whose CEO is a proponent of salary transparency.

Watch Adam reveal why most internships are illegal and why you should tell coworkers your salary.