Nearly 30 years after country-music legend Dolly Parton questioned its effectiveness in a bubbly and annoyingly-catchy song, one city’s employees are saying sainara to the nine-to-five workday. Effective starting July 1st, Birmingham’s new ten-hour, four-day workweek is sure to start Independence Day celebrations off right.
So we ask: Why the digression from the American standard?
To save on gas prices?
Provide more recreational time?
To save Birmingham money?
Check. Check. Check, says April Odom, Director of Communications in Birmingham’s Mayor’s Office of Public Information. “The mayor [Larry P. Langford] hopes to save the employees money, provide them with more time for their families and save the city money as well,” she says.
The new schedule isn’t mandatory, however, the city expects most of its 2,467 full-time employees to take advantage of the plan’s perks, which are available to all city departments. Birmingham employees will work four, ten-hour days and will alternate days off, Odom says. This allows workers, excluding sworn fire and police personnel, to continue punching in the typical 40 hours. Business and city service hours will remain the same and unaffected by the change.
While some devoted workers remain skeptical, Odom says the public response has been overwhelmingly positive. And with so much to gain, why wouldn’t it be? Now that the national price of fuel per gallon has tipped over $4, employees will save extra bucks by eliminating one trip to and from work weekly. Not to mention the additional benefits: another day to socialize, sleep in, enjoy the summer weather and focus on something more entertaining than constant e-mailing. The city will do its part to conserve on gas by reducing the number of shifts of police officers and other city workers who drive while on the job.
If all the city’s full-time employees participate in the four-day workweek, they will have saved over $500,000 yearly. With math not being my strong suit, I’ll leave it to Odom to explain exactly how the numbers pan out.
2,467 employees x 52 weeks per a year x 20-mile average daily commute / 20 miles per gallon x $4 per gallon = $513,136
And this doesn’t even include firemen and policemen, who are currently in the process of reviewing their operations. If they are added into the equation, the outcome pushes $750,000 a year, which is comparable to 1/3 of 1 percent of a pay raise, Odom explains.
While most people are considering alternate routes and means of transportation to help alleviate rising gas prices, staying home just sounds like a far better option — all math aside.
“We have received dozens of calls from other city, county and state governments who plan to follow suit,” she says.
So to city officials across the nation, we say: Run. Jump. Skip. This is one bandwagon that shouldn’t be missed.
By Kathryn Kondracki for Next American City.