Merritt, B.C. testing out a four-day work week for city staff

How would you like a four-day work week? If the idea appeals, the Thompson-Nicola might be calling.

The City of Merritt, B.C., is getting creative as it seeks to recruit and retain staff amid the province’s labour shortage, approving a scheme Tuesday that will shift city workers to a four-day schedule.


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Under the plan, staff will still make the same salary and work the same number of hours in a week, with longer hours each of the four days.

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City Hall will be closed on Mondays, but have hours extended to 8 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. on Tuesday to Friday.

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“It would also mean the staff here get a three-day weekend every single week,” Greg Lowis, Merritt’s director of corporates services, told Global News.

“That’s a chance to differentiate ourselves to make sure we have people who feel valued, that they have the chance to enjoy the life in Merritt.”

Like most other sectors, Merritt is struggling with a staffing crunch, one Lowis said has been made worse by the floods that devastated the city last November.

As a small community without a large tax base, Lowis said Merritt simply can’t compete on wages with Kelowna or Kamloops, meaning they’ve had to look at other ideas.


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“We know there’s a lot of interest in this, there’s a lot of people who are curious about how it is going to work,” Lowis said. “We are still working out some of the details of those. We don’t anticipate it starting until later in the year.”

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Merrittonians Global News spoke with appeared to be cautiously supportive of the idea.

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“If they need a break to keep things going I guess that would be important, because we need them to run things, especially the water guys — we don’t want to lose them,” hairstylist Jennifer Grasslin said.

“Realistically, someone can go work at a different city and have probably one third the workload and get paid the same as what they’re going to get here — we’re so understaffed and overworked, and so are the city workers, so they have to do something to entice people over here to the disaster zone.”


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Joanne Street said she was generally supportive of the idea, but thought the city should have waited until after next month’s municipal election to act.

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“Some people would like the city hall to be open later because some people can’t make it down there with work hours. I know they’ve been struggling to keep employees,” she said.

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“It’s OK to try something different, I just don’t think they should implement it until the new council comes in. And I think they should consult the community.”

Ponderosa Sports owner Ed Hendricks said he could see issues with losing access to City Hall on Mondays.

“For somebody that might want to work there it might be a good idea, but for the general public, that gives them one less day a week where they can pay their taxes, or go an negotiate or talk to anybody in city hall, do what business they have to do,” he said.

The city is planning for a one-year pilot project which will be assessed after the first six months.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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