Monday, May 9, 2022

Province should try four-day work week

The government of New Brunswick should follow the lead of municipalities regarding a pilot program for a four-day work week.
Quispamsis began its pilot program May 1st and it will run for 24 weeks. The town of Sackville is also considering a four-day work week.
In Nova Scotia, the Municipality of the District of Guysborough has decided to make its four-day work week permanent based on the results of its program.
In an interview with CTV News, Guysborough Chief Administrative Officer Barry Carroll said the program has been beneficial for employees and employer alike.
"Honestly, it's been an uplift in the workplace. Our sick leave has fallen dramatically, the sick-leave numbers, and it's just been a win-win," said Carroll.
Carroll believes productivity has gone up as well. He says the new program has attracted attention from across Canada and even internationally.
This program could have dramatic benefits for the province. Apart from the potential to reduce sick leave and increase productivity – not to mention the benefits to the wellbeing and mental health of employees – it can also boost the economy and recruitment and retention of employees.
On the economic side, with back-to-back large surpluses totaling nearly a billion dollars, the province is in good financial shape. However, most of those funds came from the federal government due to COVID-19 and that will not continue.
By piloting a four-day work week, the province is giving people more time to spend their money in the community which should increase revenues from taxes in various forms.
The province is in need of a way to recruit more people to the province not only for its own workforce, but for the private sector as well. A four-day work week could be a great incentive for people to move to the province. Recent census data shows a quarter of the province’s entire workforce – 124,000 people – are on the verge of retirement, the province can’t afford to do nothing. This program could be an attractive recruitment tool, putting the province on the leading of work-life balance.
Just so it’s clear, the New Brunswick Union is not pushing for a reduction in hours worked, merely condensing the weekly hours into four days. It would mean those four days are longer in terms of work time. There are benefits there as well. For instance, the province could follow the lead of Quispamsis which has extended customer service by five hours each week.
The town’s staff have also been divided into two teams, with one group working from Monday to Thursday, and the other from Tuesday to Friday.
The province has an opportunity to be bold and potentially create solutions to some of the problems it faces including economic growth, recruitment, and retention.
Our leaders talk of innovative approaches and thinking outside the box, this is an opportunity for their statements to become reality, not just rhetoric.