State employees will no longer be off on Columbus Day and Veterans Day under Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.'s new four-day work week schedule that takes effect next month.
But the governor's spokeswoman, Lisa Roskelley, said employees will end up with more time off under the schedule that's intended to save taxpayers an estimated $3 million annually in energy costs by closing many state buildings on Fridays.
"It's an overall net gain of days off," Roskelley said.
A memo distributed Friday to members of the governor's Cabinet said that in exchange for working the two holidays, employees will end up with 90 holiday hours (nine 10-hour days) rather than the 88 hours (11 eight-hour days) they now receive.
Plus, according to the memo from Jeff Herring, executive director of the Department of Human Resource Management, employees should be counting the extra 52 Fridays they'll also have off under the new schedule.
"Employees will be netting 50 days off," the 52 Fridays minus the two holidays, Herring states in the memo, written to help department heads explain to employees how the new schedule affects holidays.
Herring also said in the memo that plans are being made to celebrate Veterans Day, which falls on Nov. 11, within the executive branch.
The new schedule requires state employees in all but essential services to work from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday so buildings can be shut down on Fridays for energy savings.
About 23,000 state employees are expected to shift to the new schedule beginning Aug. 4. Some state functions will not be affected, including courts, corrections, transportation and human services.
The Utah Public Employees Association opposed eliminating the two holidays. Todd Sutton, UPEA employee representative, said a bigger problem is a lack of communication with workers about the impact of the new schedule.
"I can't really say they're being cheated," Sutton said. "They are being left out of the discussion." Still, Sutton said, a recent online poll found that 75 percent of state employees who responded favored the new schedule.
Roskelley said Cabinet members are attempting to work through any concerns with their employees, such as child-care and transportation arrangements. "We've had, for the most part, a positive experience," she said.Utahns will also have to get used to not being able to access many state government services on Fridays, such as renewing drivers' licenses, except through the state's Web site, www.utah.gov.
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