Under a new initiative considered by the Addis Abeba Public Services & Human Resource Development Bureau, civil servants working for the Addis Abeba City Administration may soon find themselves operating under a revised work schedule. The changes, doubling the daily service hours from the current eight, is part of a broader effort to enhance public service delivery in the city.

It will be a significant shift that may fundamentally change how civil services are delivered in the bustling city of Addis Abeba.

The proposal, outlined in a recent survey conducted by the Bureau, offers employees a choice between two work schedules. The first of these options calls for a three-day work week, each comprising 14 hours. The second alternative suggests a daily shift from 6am to 2pm, followed by a second shift from 2pm to 10pm, with the work week concluding on Friday. A third option, designed for those who prefer to wrap up their working day at 8pm, has also been proposed. These employees must report to work on Saturdays from 7am to 4pm.

According to Sewnet Ayele, the Bureau’s communications head, the plan is to implement these changes in the next budget year. He disclosed that the Bureau is working on amendments based on the survey’s outcome.

“We’re working on the amendments parallel to the survey,” he told Fortune.

The proposed schedule changes are intended to reduce congestion in offices frequently visited by the public.

The Addis Abeba Civil Servants’ Proclamation grants the Cabinet the authority to rearrange working hours, provided these changes do not exceed the stipulated 39-hour work week. Following the survey’s conclusion, a proposal will be drafted and presented to Bureau officials and City Cabinet members. Pending their approval, the changes will be implemented across all offices under the City Administration.

“We plan to start the program in the next budget year,” Sewnet disclosed.

The Bureau has enlisted the assistance of human resource managers from several district offices to help fill out the survey, designed to gauge employee preferences and potential issues. Hikman Hayreddin, who assumed leadership of the Bureau two years ago, leads the initiative.

Despite the potential for increased hours of operation, the Bureau has no plans to hire additional staff or increase its budget, disclosed Mebratu Gebre, a budget director at the city’s Finance Bureau.

“It will be inevitable to budget if implemented,” said Mebratu.

The prospect of revised working hours has been met with enthusiasm by City Administration employees, who are eager to pursue secondary employment or spend more time with their family and children after school hours. The City Administration employs nearly 163,000 people, with monthly salaries and benefits totalling 1.8 billion Br.

However, such a radical change in working hours does not come without potential issues. Some staff members feel it is necessary to consider the types of work that can be efficiently done during different parts of the day.

Abayneh Getu, who works at the Arada District Land Management Bureau, noted that some tasks, like land measurements and site visits, require daylight. He urged the authorities to consider the feasibility of such tasks in the proposed schedule needs to be assessed thoroughly.

Despite these reservations, the initiative has been praised by experts such as Tesfaye Debesa (PhD), a public management lecturer at Gonder University, who suggested that the authorities consider augmenting their staff or leveraging technology to support their services.

Under the leadership of Yonas Alemayehu, the Civil Registration & Residency Service Agency is considered a candidate for the pilot program due to its employees’ existing familiarity with extended working hours.

This change comes at a time when Addis Abeba is grappling with the challenges of urban growth. Although several international sources project its population to reach four million, the Mayor’s official website has a population of 5.5 million. Nonetheless, balancing public service delivery with a rapidly increasing population has posed significant challenges to the city administration. By increasing service hours and exploring more flexible work schedules, city officials hope to enhance service delivery and improve the experience for the public.

Yonas’s Agency has already seen the benefits of extended service hours. The Agency serves up to 13,000 residents daily, despite having only 3,200 employees at the district and woreda levels. Yonas has noted that their offices often see a flood of customers in the morning and usually have less traffic in the afternoon, indicating that a shift system could better distribute the service demand throughout the day.

PUBLISHED ON May 13,2023 [ VOL 24 , NO 1202]

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