State leaders discuss 4-day work week idea

By Michael McNutt Published: July 9, 2008
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Several state agencies already are offering condensed and flexible work schedules to employees, officials said today during a public hearing at the state Capitol. Oscar Jackson, administrator of the state Office of Personnel Management, said existing state law and regulations allow agency directors to develop flexible work schedules.

Jackson, who also serves as secretary of human resources and administration on Gov. Brad Henry’s Cabinet, said the governor’s office wants to make sure any work schedule changes would not interfere with agencies’ abilities to “provide the same level of services five days a week.”

“With that in mind, agencies might want to look at, if they look at a four-day work week, maybe rotational days to ensure full coverage for all the five days of the traditional Monday through Friday week,” Jackson said.

State agencies that would go to 10-hour days likely would be open to the public from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. instead of from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Most state workers now working 10-hour days work in the field, several representatives from state agencies and departments said during the two-hour hearing.

Not all state employees would qualify for the flexible time schedules, said Jeff Gifford, with the Office of Juvenile Affairs, which recently implemented a trial flexible work schedule that went into effect July 1. Not all employees got their first request, he said, as the agency developed several alternatives, including a schedule in which employees work nine-hour days for nine days and then get off every other Friday.

One state employee asked that any flexible time schedules be optional. Parents with children in day care centers would face being charged late fees for picking their children up past 6 p.m.

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