Utah Changes Course on Four-Day Workweek

We’ve written about the Utah government’s move to a four-day workweek on this blog before. But if the opposite of "Back to the Future" is "Forward to the Past," then I guess that’s what the Beehive State is doing now, as it plans to once again use the five-day model like everyone else. As this article from the Deseret News conveys, the move — initially launched by former Gov. (and current presidential candidate) Jon Huntsman — was expected to save $3 million. The move hasn’t realized those savings, however. I guess you could throw that in the "Well, it was worth a shot" file.

Gov. Gary Herbert announced he was ending Utah’s four-day workweek as of Sept. 6 in a letter to state workers.

"Most certainly, this decision will generate mixed feelings," the governor said in the letter released early Wednesday evening by his office, calling the return to a Monday through Friday schedule "the best alternative to balance both customer and employee needs."

Herbert’s decision follows action by lawmakers last month to override his veto of a bill requiring state agencies to reopen on Fridays. The bill would have allowed agencies to keep some employees on a workweek of four 10-hour days.

But staying open longer hours and reopening Fridays carried a price tag of some $800,000 that was not funded by the Legislature, the governor said after the veto override. His letter said the decision to return to eight-hour work days was necessary to "comply with legislative mandates and remain within budget constraints."

It was former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. who instituted the four-day workweek in 2008 as a cost-saving measure. Huntsman had hoped closing offices on Fridays would cut some $3 million from the state’s energy bills, but an audit found the savings fell far short of that goal.

Herbert said the new hours of operation for state offices, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, will take effect Sept. 6, the day after Labor Day. He said in the letter he hoped that would be enough time for state workers to make the needed adjustments to their personal and professional lives.

"This transition will undoubtedly require a spirt of cooperation from all employees, so please know I personally appreciate everything you do on behalf of the people of Utah," the governor wrote.