Joey’s Notepad: The Township of Zorra’s Four Day Work Week and Municipal Government

Joey Coleman

Hamilton City Hall

With 31 full-time staff, the Township of Zorra Ontario (pop. ~8400) is not a place one expects to be the focus of local government academics.

The Township’s four-day work week COVID pivot has generated much attention and drew the interest of York University’s Zachary Spicer and Western University’s Joseph Lyons who wrote a paper analyzing the pilot.

The paper, published this week in State and Local Government Review, details why Zorra decided to make a four-day work week permanent and discusses why doing so will help address some of the challenges facing smaller rural municipalities.

As noted by the authors, smaller municipalities cannot compete with large municipalities on compensation and must find ways to attract talent such as better work-life balance such as flexible working arrangements.

In Zorra, the compressed four day work involves a nine hour day (8:00am to 5:00pm) with only a 30-minute lunch break and one 15 minute break.

Some employees worked Monday to Thursday, others worked Tuesday to Friday.

For citizens, the Township office was open this additional hour each day.

####Could a Modified Workday Work in Hamilton to Improve Resident Services?

The City of Hamilton is having extreme difficulty filling vacant positions. [See all the jobs listed as “re-post” meaning nobody applied to the original or previous postings.]

Much of this is because Hamilton City Hall is known for its toxic work culture and qualified people do not apply.

A modified work day will not resolve the culture problem.

Hamilton City Hall, and the City’s administrative offices, all operate on a 8:30am to 4:30pm schedule. City Hall is open five days a week. Some of the other administrative offices are closed some days of the week.

The HSR ticket office, and lost and found, only operates during these hours. This means, as an example, secondary school students must take time off school to have their PRESTO cards processed by the HSR.

Could a flexible schedule, with evening hours, be a win-win for both staff and residents?

Similiarly, would opening the City’s small business centre one or two evenings per week, with staff working a four-day work week, be a similar win-win?

The Township of Zorra is limited in its ability to conduct evening hours due to having only 32 total staff to do everything from running City Hall to cutting the grass.

The City of Hamilton has over 9,000 permanent employees.

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Last edited: July 20, 2022
Author: Joey Coleman
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