The Desmond Fatality Inquiry is being held at the Guysborough Municipal Building.

GUYSBOROUGH: The Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) is testing a four-day work week for its employees, on a trial basis.

The nine-month pilot project which was established as a direct result of reorganization from the COVID-19 pandemic began on June 15, and is the first of its kind for municipalities in Nova Scotia.

Barry Carroll, the municipality’s Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) called the move an investment in human infrastructure.

“It’s a transition for us back into what would be normal working hours,” he said. “We are going to evaluate it at the annual planning session at the end of January and it might be something we will implement permanently.”

The municipality’s approximately 60 core employees will work the same number of hours over a condensed work week – with either Monday or Friday off – something about which he hasn’t heard any objections.

The move will allow the municipal offices to stay open five days a week serving the public, while also giving employees comfortable flexibility and more time for family life, while also extending service hours.

“It’s kind of a win-win,” Carroll said. “We expand the service hours while at the same time we’re putting employees on a shift system where they are able to work the four day weeks.”

Hours of operation at the municipal office will be extended from the current 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. to 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily. At the waste management facility, open hours will increase from the current 7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., to 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. but Saturday hours remain unchanged.

Hours of operation for public works and recreation will be extended by one hour daily, but the Chedabucto Lifestyle Complex and the fitness centre will keep their current schedules.

The municipality kept employees at the office during the pandemic, but they were working two days at the office and two days at home, and workers were split into two groups.

“Some good things are actually coming out of COVID,” he said. “So, this is an idea that spawned out of that system.”

Carroll did note however, the work-from-home model doesn’t particularly work well for the municipality on a regular basis.

Team A will work Monday to Thursday, while Team B will work Tuesday to Friday. When employees were given the option to stick to a five-day work week, no one was interested.

Since the two team system has been implemented as a result of COVID-19, Carroll has noticed municipal employers have been more efficient.

“People have been fresher,” he said. “Our staff are so dedicated and have been excited about it.”

Council will re-evaluate the four day work week at the end of January, seven months into the project. Based on that recommendation, staff will determine if the municipality will make the arrangement permanent.