The Williston City Council discussed changing the current workweek for the public works and utilities field staff during its March 7 meeting.
The employees currently work the standard five-day, 40-hour workweek, but the public works department proposed a four-day, 40-hour workweek. The proposal suggests employees would work 10-hour shifts and would be given an extra day off.
Williston City Manager Terry Bovaird initiated the conversation. He said that certain metrics needed to be met for the proposal to be considered.
One of the primary concerns from the city council was overtime hours. Council President Debra Jones said she believed the new proposal would increase overtime hours for the employees. She argued that the workers would have already worked 40 hours by Thursday and that any call-ins over the weekend would result in unnecessary overtime.
Council members agreed that they were not interested in approving the proposal if it would result in increased overtime hours.
Fire Chief Lamar Stegall argued that emergencies can happen at any time and that overtime is sometimes necessary.
“We can ‘what if’ a situation to death,” Stegall said. “The city council ultimately has to make the decision.”
Stegall suggested that the city should try the proposal for a model period to see if it worked well. He said it would only take one city council meeting to reverse the decision if the change wasn’t beneficial.
Stegall said the Levy County road department made the decision to switch to a four-day workweek 10 years ago, and they still operate on this schedule.
Public Works Supervisor Donald Barber said that the majority of overtime for field staff is currently used within two hours of the end of shifts. He argued that adding two hours to each workday would decrease the need for overtime. Ten-hour workdays would give the employees enough time to finish all of their needed tasks, he said.
Barber said that longer workdays would mean a wider range of installation times, which would benefit residents. He also pointed out that other divisions in the city of Williston are already running on a non-standard workweek. He argued that the police and fire divisions do not work five-day workweeks but are able to properly function.
Barber said the public works department wanted to bring the idea to the city council before it submits a formal proposal in April.
The city council did not make an immediate decision on the proposal. It suggested that the public works department come to the April city council meeting with more details of how the proposal would work.
The public works department will need to provide an explanation of which employees will work on each workday and proof that the new proposal will not increase the average number of overtime hours.
The city council expressed that it is not interested in approving the proposal if the public works department does not provide a more detailed plan for the April meeting.
Employees from the public works department attended the meeting and said they were not legally permitted to give public comment about the proposal.