Town Clerk Myriam Longtin presented council with an eight-page preliminary report on the concept during the June 21 committee of the whole session. The pandemic spurred the town’s administration to explore the idea of a four-day week as one of several options for adapting to the changing labour force conditions.
« Broadly, the COVID-19 forced the administration to rethink working conditions for the employees » stated Longtin, in her report. « Since June 2020, we have experienced the Great Resignation. »
She cited a Dictionary.com reference explaining the term. The Great Resignation refers to « the widespread trend of a significant number of workers leaving their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. »
Longtin noted that many businesses experimented with four-day work weeks to avoid the Great Resignation problem. The concept of the four-day work week involves reducing the number of work days for employees and without also increasing the numbers of hours during their new working day schedule. The goal was to encourage staff to be more efficient and productive during their new, shorter work week in return for having a three-day weekend.
The report also noted that several Ontario municipalities are experimenting with a compressed work week setup. This also involves a four-day work week but with the work days extended by an hour. Results of the compressed work week have been positive for these municipalities. There was less staff turnover and the municipalities had greater success in recruiting new employees for some positions.
If Hawkesbury decided to try a four-day compressed work week pilot project for its staff, it would mean that the municipal ofice would be open to the public until 5 p.m., Monday to Friday. All employees would be assigned to either a Monday to Thursday work week shift, or to a Tuesday to Friday work week shift to ensure municipal business and work programs continued on a normal basis.
Longtin and Chief Administrator Samuel Cardarelli both told council that consultation with all employees would happen first before an actual proposal was made for a four-day compressed work week pilot project.
They emphasized that participation in such a pilot project would be voluntary. There would also be a staff survey for feedback and comments at the end of the pilot project to help determine if there was support among employees for making a compressed four-day work week permanent for municipal operations.
Council members expressed interest in the concept of a four-day work week. But they noted that such a pilot project experiment is neither feasible nor suitable this year when there will be a municipal election in October.
Council directed administration to continue reviewing information on the four-day work week concept for an updated report to council at a future meeting following the election