Howard County to offer fuel-saving schedules

July 10, 2008|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Sun reporter

In an effort to help conserve energy, the Howard County government will offer some employees the option of altered work schedules that enable them to commute less.

The new plan calls for compressed work schedules, such as a four-day week with 10-hour days, and flextime arrangements, County Executive Ken Ulman said yesterday.

The new schedules would begin immediately and apply to about 1,400 of the county's approximately 2,600 workers, said Todd Allen, director of the Office of Human Resources.

The plan is not available to police, firefighters or school system employees, Ulman said, adding that he also is considering allowing some workers to telecommute.

"Many county employees are being hammered by soaring fuel costs, and it's imperative that we look for solutions to help them, and in this case help the environment as well," Ulman said in a statement.

Supervisors have been instructed to look for ways to help employees who are interested in the plan, the county executive said, who added that services to county residents will not be compromised.

Under the new plan, employees who now work five eight-hour days could switch to four 10-hour days, or a biweekly schedule of eight nine-hour days plus one eight-hour day and one day off over a 10-workday stretch.

Under a flextime arrangement, employees can begin their work day earlier or later than normal to avoid driving in peak rush hours, reducing fuel use and stress.

Some employees in the county's public works department have been working compressed-week schedules during summer months for years, said William Malone, chief of the highway bureau.

"It lets us get a lot more work done," he said of the four-day workweek.

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