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Program encourages shorter work weeks
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Forsyth County News

Applications for the Clean Air Campaign Compressed Work Week Leadership Initiative are due by April 30. For more information, visit
The Clean Air Campaign is looking for employers to take part in an alternative work scheduling program aimed at curbing costs, as well as traffic and emissions.

The Compressed Work Week Leadership Initiative proposes a shift in schedules to eliminate two to four work days a month. In exchange, participating companies could receive up to $2,000.

“We are looking for organizations that are ready to commit to this,” said Erin Clark, Atlanta Work Arrangement Specialist for the Clean Air Campaign. “We would like to see a variety of businesses with regard to sizes.”

To qualify to be one of 15 businesses selected for the reimbursement money, companies must be ready to implement the changes as early as May.

They must have at least 20 employees participate in the program and the work schedules should follow a 40-hour four-day work week or 80 hours over nine work days every two weeks.

Clark said the money would reimburse the expenses a company incurs during the process of reworking schedules and recruiting employees who want to participate.

Forsyth County attorney Tracy Moon, a partner with Fisher & Phillips, pointed to his own field as an example that not all businesses may be able to take part.

Moon, who deals with labor and employment law, said the ability to adjust work schedules rests largely on the type of business.

“With the economic situation that we’re in right now, that may be given more consideration because companies are looking every way they can to reduce expenses,” he said. “But the question is for an employer, is the incentive sufficient enough to cover the cost of changing everyone’s work schedule?

“Companies will look at any situation as long as they can still serve their customers, produce their products ... etc.”

Moon said manufacturing companies could be ideal candidates, though the customer service industry may find it more difficult.

Larger companies would be better suited for this type of program he said, but “companies will at least look at it, and if they can still conduct business in the same way that services their customers.”

James McCoy, president of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, said having an extra day off work could encourage more local spending and improve the quality of life for those who commute to Atlanta.

“That’s one less day you’re sitting in traffic,” he said. “It’s one more day that you have to spend time with loved ones, and honestly to be focused on things that you can be doing when you’re not at work, like volunteering in the community.

“They’re going to just be more mentally fit the days they are at work.”

In 2003, the Clean Air Campaign launched a similar program, encouraging telecommuting.

Home Depot does its share of telecommuting, said spokesman Craig Fishel. The company also facilitates carpooling by van.

“We have folks from Paulding, Gwinnett and Forsyth counties that use the vanpool,” he said. “We have long taken the stance from a retail perspective to be a leader in the green arena.

“Our employees see it as another way for us to continue to help the environment and also giving them the flexibility to have them working from home.”

Many of the 4,500 employees at Home Depot’s headquarters in Atlanta are able to share rides by van or car. But because the stores are customer service-oriented, telecommuting is not an option.

“If you have the flexibility to stagger the work schedules of employees across the company, so that they’re working different four-day work weeks and you have the coverage, then that would be great,” Fishel said.

“A lot of employees would like a reduced schedule ... and most companies are good corporate citizens. If they can conduct business properly and take action that improves the environment and benefits employees, then they would do it.”