Summer schedules: To give a new lease of life!

Summer has arrived, and with it the children’s school holidays. Is it not a suitable time for an employer to acknowledge his employees by allowing them a little more freedom? Some companies have understood, often at little expense, and have laid down summer schedules.

At the Caisse de depot et de placement du Québec, no additional holiday is granted, but the employees can rearrange their work schedule if they so wish. Two options are open to them: a half-day off each week or a full day every two weeks, on a Friday in both cases. The condition: that the time off be compensated for by extra work hours during the week, or the previous two weeks, depending. “All employees are eligible, underlines Annie Vallières, advisor to the information and media relations department. Nevertheless, all work teams should ensure that service is maintained at all times.”

The managers ensure that the holidays do not affect the quality of service, even if a significant number of staff take their annual holiday during summer. “Once the schedules are established, everything runs fine,” states Annie Vallières.

At Ultramar, in exchange for an extra 15 minutes per day from September to May, employees benefit from a half day every Friday from mid-May to the beginning of September. All permanent employees benefit whether they work in the administrative offices or in the refineries. “In certain services, such as customer services, sales or credit, we ensure rotation where necessary to maintain service, notes Louis Forget, Vice-president of public affairs at Ultramar. The schedule management is carried out well; people collaborate. Holidays can be shuffled during the week.”

Petrol stations are not included in this program. “On the one hand, it is about subsidiaries, points out the Vice-president of Ultramar. On the other, it would be much more difficult to manage, Friday being a busy day.

At Raymond Chabot Grand Thornton, Friday afternoons are off from the Saint-Jean-Baptiste to the Fete du travail. It doesn’t affect our clients. “The receptionists and administrative staff share work and holidays, notes Caroline Brunet, human resources advisor. They alternate by taking Friday off every two weeks or by adding one week to their holiday.” Service is also maintained.

Ciment Saint-Laurent offer different ways depending on workplaces. At the headquarters, in Ville Mont-Royal, employees finish half an hour earlier from Monday to Friday, from the Saint-Jean-Baptiste to the Fete du travail. This program has existed for more than 10 years. “It is very popular, claims Anne-Marie Desjardins, human resources advisor. The employees at headquarters work many extra hours during the year, though employee salaries are annual rather than hourly. The reduction of summer work hours is a way for the company to thank employees for their contribution.”

At the factory in Longueuil, the company allows administrative staff to leave one hour earlier on Fridays in summer. Employees involved in direct operations at Ciment Saint-Laurent do not benefit from this advantage. Nevertheless, being governed by a collective convention, their extra hours are all tallied up.

Where they do exist, summer programs seem to be rather flexible. “People tend to stay at work if there is work to be finished” notes Anne-Marie Desjardins.

Employees appreciate these holidays: they facilitate compromising family and professional activities. “What’s more, it allows them to recharge for fall and winter,” highlights Caroline Brunet. “The shuffling of schedules improves moral, claims Louis Forget. Summer is so short in Montreal and in Canada; long weekends are very important.”

Several companies see in it an opportunity to formally recognize their employee’s contributions. “We are aware that they give their maximum all year long,” points out Annie Vallières. Aside from planning the schedules at the beginning of the season, this program presents little inconvenience for the employer. Nobody asked mentioned a decrease in productivity.

In certain places, the flexibility of summer hours applies all year. “We offer the possibility of remote working or working flexible hours all year long, notes Anne-Marie Hubert, associate at Ernst & Young. I don’t see the relevance of summer schedule programs here, more so that employees have access to shorter working weeks if they so wish, to make up for extra hours during the year. What we ask of our employees is to reach targets; we give them large discretion as to how to go about doing so.” The Desjardins movement also offers the possibility of telecommuting and flexible hours.

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