HomeWorldMerritt, BC is testing a four-day work week for city staffSEDI...

Merritt, BC is testing a four-day work week for city staffSEDI News

How do you like a four-day work week? If the idea appeals, Thompson-Nicola may call.

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The City of Merritt, B.C., is getting creative as it seeks to recruit and retain staff amid the province’s labor shortage, approving a plan Tuesday that would move city workers to a four-day schedule.

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Under the plan, staff will still pay the same pay and work the same number of hours per week, with longer hours over four days.

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City Hall will be closed Monday, but will have extended hours Tuesday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5:45 p.m.

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“It will also mean that the staff here get a three-day weekend every week,” Greg Lowis, Merit’s director of corporate services, told Global News.

“This is an opportunity to differentiate ourselves to ensure that we have people who feel valued, that they have the opportunity to enjoy life on merit.”

Like most other areas, Merritt is struggling with staff shortages, a situation Lovis said was made worse by the floods that devastated the city last November.

As a small community without a large tax base, Lois said Merritt simply can’t compete with Kelowna or Kamloops on wages, which means they have to look at other ideas.

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“We know there’s a lot of interest in this, there’s a lot of people who are curious about how it’s going to work,” Lowis said. “We are still working out some of those details. We don’t expect it to start until the end of the year.

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Merittonians Global News spoke to appeared to be cautiously supportive of the idea.

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“If they need a break to keep things going I think that would be important, because we need them to run things, especially water people — we don’t want to lose them,” said hairstylist Jennifer Grasslin.

“Realistically, someone can go to work in another city and have maybe one-third the workload and get paid the same as what they’re going to get here — we’re understaffed and overworked, and so They are city workers. Something has to be done to lure people here into the disaster zone.”

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Joan Street said she was generally supportive of the idea, but thought the city should wait until after next month’s municipal election to act.

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“Some people want City Hall to be open later because some people can’t make it down there with the work hours. I know they are struggling to keep employees,” she said.

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“It’s OK to try to do something different, I just don’t think they should implement it until the new council comes in. And I think they should consult the community.”

Ed Hendricks, owner of Ponderosa Sports, said he could see problems with losing access to City Hall on Monday.

“It might be a good idea for someone who wants to work there, but for ordinary people, it gives them one less day a week where they can pay their taxes, or negotiate, or talk to someone at city hall. May be, what business they have to do,” he said.

The city is planning for a one-year pilot project that will be evaluated after the first six months.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Chorus Entertainment Inc.