Oklahoma City_Press Release_With employers across the nation offering their employees compressed four-day work schedules in an effort to reduce fuel costs, state Rep. Mike Shelton is calling on Gov. Brad Henry to issue an executive order encouraging state agencies to offer the same for state employees.
In May, Shelton authored a resolution in the Legislature that encouraged state agencies to implement "flex time" work schedules that allow employees to work four 10-hour work days each week instead of five eight-hour days.
"Oklahoma was the first state to suggest a four-day work week for state employees, and now the rest of the nation is catching on; unfortunately, our idea has yet to come to fruition for our hardworking public servants," said Shelton, D-Oklahoma City. "Our state employees are already underpaid and pinching pennies to make ends meet. We need to offer them some relief from fuel costs and save our taxpayers some money on energy costs at the same time."
Gasoline prices have recently surged to around $4 a gallon throughout the nation, a 30 percent increase from one year ago, according to the American Automobile Association.
The recent surge has prompted public and private employers to seek ways to reduce costs for their employees as well as save money for the employer.
City officials in Birmingham, Alabama recently voted to implement a four-day week for more than 3,400 municipal employees, a move expected to save the city $500,000 to $1 million annually in fuel costs alone.
The University of Central Oklahoma has also adopted a four-day work schedule for summer faculty and expects to save more $150,000 on energy costs.
Some experts report that a quarter or more of all private businesses in the U.S. are considering moving to the short week.
In addition to saving both employees and employers money, Shelton said the move could boost morale and increase productivity in state government.
A recent study released by the Romney Institute of Public Management reported that 60 percent of employees who work an alternative 10-hour, four-day work schedule are more productive, happier with their pay and benefits and are less likely to seek a new job. In addition, the study found that 60 percent of residents during the same period reported increased access to government.
"I have talked to several agency directors who are unwilling to allow their employees to work a condensed schedule, but it is hard to convince a director making $100,000 a year that some Oklahomans are having a hard time paying for gas," said Shelton. "I recognize that not all state agencies may be able to move to a four-day week, but most of them can. I believe our quality state employees can ensure that the people's work get's done without missing a beat.
"It is time that these directors put themselves in the shoes of their employees and their families. It is not just the poor running out of gas; it is also the hardworking Oklahomans that we entrust to carry out the business of the state."