John F. Kennedy photo

Statement by the President Upon Signing the Work Hours Standards Act.

August 13, 1962

I TAKE great pleasure in signing into law the Work Hours Standards Act of 1962.

This Act will replace--with a single, comprehensive law--the confusing and often ambiguous series of Eight Hour Laws dating back to 1892, that formerly governed hours of work for laborers and mechanics employed by the federal Government or in work performed for the Government.

for many years, attempts have been made in the Congress to correct the obvious inequities and omissions that resulted from this tangle of laws. The former Eight Hour Laws permitted work up to 56 hours a week--seven days of eight hours each--with no overtime compensation whatsoever, and they did not apply to the vast Federally-assisted construction activity.

The new Act coordinates the conflicting provisions of the former statutes and establishes a 40-hour workweek standard--long prevalent in private industry. The coverage of the former statutes has been extended by the new Act to include federally-assisted construction activity.

Workers, employers and government officials will benefit greatly from this equitable and modern law providing a straight-time 8-hour day and 40-hour week to federal contract and federally-assisted work. It represents progress long overdue. I am gratified that the Congress has acted, and that this action will result in greater efficiency in work for the government, and in greater security for the workers involved.

Note: The Work Hours Act of 1962 is Public Law 87-58t (76 Stat. 357).

John F. Kennedy, Statement by the President Upon Signing the Work Hours Standards Act. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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