[Source: 94.5 Kool FM]
Thursday could become the new Friday for thousands of Phoenix city employees in an effort to save money and keep workers happy.
Phoenix officials are considering mandatory Fridays off for administrative employees but would exempt those who support functions that can’t be shut down such as water-plant employees, aviation workers and public-safety staff.
If approved, Phoenix would become the largest municipality in the state and the country on a mandatory four-day schedule, where employees typically work 10-hour days with Fridays off.
Amid the economic downturn of the past two years, many public and private employers have adopted modified schedules to reduce costs and lift workers’ sagging spirits. Faced with enormous budget deficits, cities are saving money by closing offices one day a week. And with widespread layoffs and pay cuts casting a gloom over offices, giving workers a three-day weekend boosts both employee morale and productivity, say supporters of four-day workweeks.
Several Valley cities and towns including Avondale, Buckeye, Fountain Hills, Queen Creek, Peoria and Mesa are already on a four-day workweek.
If adopted, the modified schedule would close offices in downtown Phoenix on Fridays, mainly City Hall, the Calvin C. Goode Building, Historic City Hall and the Personnel Building. About 2,000 of the city’s roughly 15,400 employees work in these buildings, where residents go to do everything from obtaining building permits, paying water bills or applying for business licenses.
The modified mandatory schedule, however, would not operate citywide, said Cathy Gleason, Phoenix’s budget and research director.
“Clearly we wouldn’t apply it to libraries community centers and senior centers,” Gleason said. “You can’t say we’re going to shut it all down.”
The city already allows for flexible schedules, and some employees, like garbage collectors and patrol officers, work 10-hour days, four days a week. But now city officials are weighing the pros and cons of introducing a four-day workweek for office workers. It is still unclear if city management will suggest the program to the City Council for adoption or when it would launch.
Gleason said the financial benefits of a four-day workweek aren’t overwhelming. The city would save about $200,000 annually in custodial, energy and overtime costs with the switch.