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State employees loving four-day work week

by Andrew Kirk OF THE RECORD STAFF

After two weeks, Summit County’s state employees seem to be enjoying their four-day work week.

The reactions to the change are as diverse as the people in the jobs, but overall, staff say they’re pleased with the extra time with family, the saved gas money, the three-day weekends and the improved service to residents.

The old five-day week required patrons to take time off of work to visit the Division of Motor Vehicles or the Department of Workforce Services offices. Now they can come in before or after work, and the state employees also don’t need to take time off to run their own errands.

"Come Monday, I was ready to come to work-I was more enthusiastic and not as worn out," said Marya Wright at the Kimball Junction DMV.

The change was not a new one for all state employees. Workforce Services made the change about five years ago. Ironically, the Heber office had changed to a five-day week in June and was only changing back on Aug. 4. The Park City office never left its four-day week.

While a change in hours of operations is affecting some patrons, especially those going to the DMV, people were already used to Workforce Services’ schedule, said Diane Hicken, manager over Heber and Park City.

Her offices’ services, such as food stamps, assistance with medical insurance, employment insurance, childcare assistance and training, are of a nature that patrons are better served before and after work hours.

"You can’t really take time off to come in and apply for assistance," said Kandi Kutkas, Park City’s eligibility lead. "Those two extra hours (we’re open) really help people."

Kutkas said she visited the office as a patron before starting work there. She’d received a notice of termination and needed to look for another job, but couldn’t while on the clock. She appreciated being able to submit her resume and get help after her shift.

At that time, the four-day week was a pilot program designed to better serve residents. It worked well and they’ve been using it ever since.

The DMV offices say the change helps their patrons as well.

Jean Thiriot at Kimball Junction and Jeannine Broberg in Coalville both said residents would rush to their offices after work and not make it by 5 p.m.

"We’d get accosted in the parking lot," Thiriot said.

Broberg said she regularly had a line of people at 5 and would have to stay later anyway. People would also try to come in the morning, and be in a huge rush at 8 a.m.

Now people can come anytime after 7 a.m. and as late as 5:30 or even 6 p.m.

Sherilyn Pectol, Section 7 secretary for the Highway Patrol office near Jordanelle who started her new schedule July 15, said most of her patron requests for accident reports or other information are done via mail and won’t be affected.

Rachel Gleason, eligibility specialist at the Park City Workforce Services office, said she loves the four-day week because of what it affords her with childcare. Not only does she save 20 percent, but gets to spend another full day with her son.

Extra time with family seems to be the most popular perk.

Broberg in Coalville used her first Friday off to take her granddaughters to the Summit County Fair. Pectol with the Highway Patrol said staying in Heber with her family is worth the longer work days. Thiriot in Kimball Junction said she’s still getting used to the schedule, but can’t wait to spend more time with her family.

Marya Wright at the Kimball Junction DMV believes she’ll also get more work done in the long run.

"With 52 extra days off a year to take care of things at home, I won’t have to take nearly as much time off of work to do things," she said.

Critics of the schedule change have mused over whether any fuel will be saved since many employees might drive more on their day off than they would have while at work.

Local staffers believe it will be the same, since they will run errands on Friday instead of after work or on Saturdays. They also appreciate the option of saving gas by staying home on Friday.

Gleason with Workforce Services said she’ll definitely save money not having to drive to childcare. Workers coming from Salt Lake will save the most.

Several employees also related how much happier they were coming back to work on Aug. 11 after a three-day weekend.

"I was ready to come back to work on Monday and had time to do extra things," Pectol said.

But the schedule change is not an omnibus problem solver. Thiriot at Kimball Junction used to run her errands during lunch, which is now shorter. Her co-worker, Jessica Richins, is having problems scheduling appointments with doctors on Fridays, who often are closed as well.

She dislikes the 10-hour day and wishes she had more time in the mornings and evenings. As is, she gets up at 6 a.m. to start the drive from Salt Lake by 6:30 and then gets home about 6:30 p.m. leaving her only a few evening hours before she heads to bed at 10 in order to get up in time.

All things considered though, most state employees appear to be excited to try something different.

"Change is a good thing and if it doesn’t work, you can always go back," Pectol said.

It has only been two weeks, but some said it will take longer to really get a read on the pros and cons.

"It sounds good in theory, we’ll have to give it a chance, only time will tell," Wright said.

The Third District Court employees for Silver Summit were mandated to stay on a five-day week, but are often able to work a flexible schedule and enjoy many of the same perks, said Debbie Foust, asst. clerk of court for Silver Summit.

After a period of probation, Foust allows her staff to work eight nine-hour days, one eight-hour day and then take a day off every other week. Rather than missing every Friday, her staff can choose which day to have off.

"We feel fortunate that we have that," she said.

New Hours:

Division of Motor Vehicles:

6505 Landmark Dr. and 60 Main Street, Coalville are open 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Closed every Friday. Hours were formerly 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Kamas office at 110 North Main is only open Wednesday from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Hours for Park City office of Department of Workforce Services at 1960 Sidewinder Dr.: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Summer hours were formerly Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.


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