With the City of Saint John implementing a four-day workweek as a pilot project beginning on Oct. 17, Fredericton’s deputy mayor awaits the results of the trial to see if Fredericton could implement something similar.
The Saint John City Council voted unanimously on Sept. 26 to trial a four-day workweek for municipal employees. Beginning Oct. 17, employees will shift to working Monday through Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. When that pilot project ends, the city will consider its results and whether to continue with it.
Greg Ericson, Fredericton’s deputy mayor and councillor for Ward 8, said the city is “interested in the potential results” of the trial project.
With something like this, Ericson said, it is important to see if services can be kept at “status quo.”
“It seems really challenging to move an organization that provides so many services 365 days a year, 24/7 to maintain adequate management oversight,” he said. “Can we reduce our operating expenses without reducing the level of service?”
The motion for a four-day workweek came from Saint John City Manager John Collin.
“As a major employer, we are continually exploring ways to improve the workplace for employees and attract talent, while continuing to serve the community at a high standard,” said Collin during the council meeting on Sept. 26.
During his council presentation, Collin said a four-day workweek benefits municipal employees by allowing for more work-life balance. He said it would save money on operation costs without a loss to productivity.
“If we can make progressive, evidence-based enhancements that are a win-win for everyone, with little to no added cost to the taxpayer or inconvenience to the customer, then we should take the opportunity,” said Collin.
However, not all City of Saint John employees reap the benefits of the condensed work week.
Important services in public works, recreation facilities, transit, parking enforcement, Saint John Water and public safety services will continue regular operating schedules and not participate in the trial, according to the City of Saint John’s website.
The council hopes to “attract and retain” more employees with the extended weekend while maintaining productivity.
“Council is looking forward to the many potential benefits this change could bring to the city,” said John MacKenzie, Saint John’s deputy mayor.
Ericson likes the “economic objective” behind the idea of the four-day workweek.
“If you could offer [constituents] a substantial break in the operating costs and didn’t reduce service levels, it would be definitely something to do,” he said.