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Monday, July 07, 2008

Is it good or bad to be a state employee in Utah?

CNN/Money reported last week that Utah is putting state employees on a compressed workweek. Employees will work 10 hours per day Monday through Thursday and get Fridays off (with obvious exceptions, like police officers and prison guards).* Employees will get the same pay (which makes sense, since they're still working 40 hours per week), and theoretically, they will also save on the cost of gas since they don't have to drive in to work. But I suspect that much of those savings will be canceled out by the errands they run on Fridays.

The four-day workweek program is a one-year experiment to save $3 million in energy costs, which is .00027% of Utah's annual $11 billion budget. I guess it's $3 million that can now be spent elsewhere (or not collected in taxes), but it seems like a fairly paltry amount considering the impact it's going to have on residents.

Residents will no longer be able to conduct ordinary business with the state on Fridays - I'm guessing that means no driver's license renewals or visits to the state tax board, for example. And for the employees, it means their kids will be in daycare for two additional hours on Monday through Thursday, and possibly other inconveniences such as a longer commute due to driving at a time when there's more traffic. And a 10-hour workday can be exhausting.

On the other hand, wouldn't it be nice to have a three-day weekend every week? The article discusses all the things state employees plan to do on their extra day off, like golf or take the kids to the zoo. (The article doesn't say what adjustments are made for weeks when there is a holiday.)

So, would you be happy if your employer put you on compressed workweek schedule?

*Another exception to the compressed workweek is "state-run liquor stores," which will remain open on Fridays. There are "state-run liquor stores"?



  • At 7/7/08, 5:28 PM, Blogger Romulus said…

    I work in the tech industry, and knew a number of coworkers who opted for that exact schedule once the employer opened things up to flexible schedules. I always doubted it would work for me in my day-to-day home schedule, but a few extra hours a day in exchange for a three-day weekend each week sounded pretty appealing.

    Now I think as you have more people at home, it becomes more difficult to have such an abnormal schedule, particularly if you have any sort of real commute.... though driving commutes may actually become easier as you drive outside the normal rush hour periods.

  • At 7/7/08, 5:49 PM, Blogger GinnyBerry said…

    I am a first grade teacher. I've heard of some schools actually doing four day week.... (the information was posted in our staff lounge, and I'm not sure what state/area is trying it.

    I am against this for first grade. Students who are learning to read and learning English at the same time benefit from practice and repetition of the phonics/comprehension skills being taught. Actually, I think that for some children, going to school six days a week would be effective.

    Trading a savings on facility/staff/busses for a chance to learn is not a good idea.

  • At 7/7/08, 5:51 PM, Blogger Angela said…

    My husband has worked for government contractors for nuclear facilities in ID and TX. In Idaho he worked 4/10s as we called it. A huge portion of the site worked this schedule. It was hard and long but it more than paid off in 3 day weekends. For us it meant a day to get stuff done, a day to relax and then the Sabbath.

    Now we're in TX and on a traditional 7-3:30 schedule. And while that has benefits, we're able to stay up later (before it was 6:30-5) and he gets off earlier. But the weekends are so much harder. There is never enough time. Projects don't get done. Plus while my husband is still home at 4 and has a little time for taking care of "business" its a huge stress. Where before Friday would be the day for going to places like the dmv, etc or getting the car fixed.

    Anyway there are pros and cons but I'm a huge proponent for 4/10s.

  • At 7/7/08, 5:59 PM, Blogger Angela said…

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • At 7/7/08, 6:01 PM, Blogger Angela said…

    As far as schools going 4/10s or the 6-day week as ginnyberry mentioned I'm totally ANTI. While it would benefit some children, I think we forget that children are children and should be allowed to act as such.

    I strongly feel it is important to educate our children. Most important. But I think we've forgotten that children should be able to play and spend time with family and friends. Especially our 5, 6, 7, 8 year olds, even older still.

    But that's just my opinion.

  • At 7/7/08, 8:42 PM, Blogger meegan said…

    Funnily enough, the Australian gov't was discussing this same idea last week!

    Instead of closing completely on Fridays, why not have half the workforce have Fridays off and the other half have Mondays? Then these services won't have to be closed for one day each week.

    I can just imagine how frustrating it would be to be one of those gov't employees who have every Friday off and wanted to get things done, like going to the DMV on their one day off!

  • At 7/7/08, 9:30 PM, Blogger Erin said…

    Had to laugh, all us Utahns know are "state run liquor stores". As in, they don't sell anything besides beer and wine coolers in grocery stores - everything else must be bought in a state run liquor store. Honestly, the name on the sign is State Liquor Store. And they have crappy hours, and aren't open on Sundays. Moving recently from California, it has taken some getting used to! And no giant tequila bottles (among other things) sold at Costco!

  • At 7/8/08, 5:45 AM, Anonymous Phoneix13 said…

    Just a note from another Utah resident--the idea of everything being closed every Friday sounds like a moneysaver, but also a HUGE inconvenience (read 'more irate customers'). The DMV and other state agentcies are hard enough to arrange to get to, now there will be only 4 days instead of 5--the saving grace here might be an extension of public business hours on the other 4 days, which I have not been able to confirm. BTW Erin--those wine coolers are now referred to as 'alco-pops', and are only available from ... the State Liquor and Wine Stores :)

  • At 7/8/08, 5:57 AM, Blogger Team Serrins Springfield said…

    I've never been interested in working a 4/10 schedule. For me, it would mean that I would nearly never see my kids during the week. I'd leave the house before they got up and they'd go to sleep right after I got home. Everyone I know who has worked that schedule spent all day Friday doing errands and laundry.

    My work, which has optional flex-schedule, is increasing efforts to allow us to telecommute which also saves on gas costs (and energy for the office although not at our houses). I'm telecommuting right now.

  • At 7/8/08, 9:12 AM, Blogger Clean ClutterFree Simple said…

    WA state has state run liquor stores, as does OR (and many other states). Until recenly, all in WA were closed on Sundays. No vodka in the Safeway for us:-(.

    I think it's a worthwhile experiment. At least they're trying something, thinking about the issues.

  • At 7/8/08, 11:10 AM, Anonymous Mar said…

    I've thought about this a lot since it would be doable for me now that my daughter is 12. I would hate it if my child was younger and I needed to arrange daycare for extended hours. Since I never feel much like doing anything when I get home from work except the necessities (cooking dinner, dishes, maybe a load of laundry), having one day a week for errands, housecleaning, volunteering at school or whatever would be great! Better yet, if I would 10 hours, I now have an excuse for being lazy when I get home! :)

  • At 7/10/08, 8:30 PM, Blogger Chief Family Officer said…

    Wow, thanks for the info on state-run liquor stores! It's all very interesting and different from California. By the way, I made the mistake of saying "alco-pops" to Marc in front of Alex, who immediately latched onto the word and started repeating it over and over in sing-song fashion.


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