Alabama City Workers Told to Take Extra Day Off to Soften Blow of High Fuel Costs

As more people across the nation are switching to alternative forms of transportation to beat the rising cost of fuel, one city is simply telling people to stay home.

A new plan in Birmingham, Ala., will roll back work schedules for city employees to four days a week, an initiative expected to save the city's 4,000 commuters tens of thousands of dollars a year.

The program, introduced by Mayor Larry Langford, will go into effect July 1 and intends to soften the blow of high gas prices without hurting productivity.

"We've done this before when I was with the county, and it worked," Langford said, referring to his tenure as county commission president in Jefferson County, Ala.

"America needs to go on a four-day, 10-hour [per day] workweek," he added.

Employees are welcoming the plan, and the savings.

"I drive 60 miles round-trip every day, so I'm looking forward to seeing that adjustment," said Ashley Grigg, an employee at the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce.

Courtney Simmons, a magazine ad executive, said she's happiest about the extra time she will get to spend with her family. "I'm so excited about Fridays and spending more time with my daughter and having playdates with her little friends," she said.

While staffers will be working one day fewer, all city departments and offices will remain open and functional five days a week. In order to make this work, staffers will be alternating off days; they also will stay on-call if needed. Work days will be extended to 10 hours and will pinpoint city employees who drive on the job, such as police officers.

"All of the employees will still be working their same amount of hours that they work every week," Grigg said, adding, "We're not closing down for one day."

And it's not just Birmingham that is scaling back workweeks. In a bid to cut costs, agencies and school districts across the country are considering operating on the new schedule.

The Jefferson County school system in Alabama already has made the shift to the 10-hour-a-day schedule for the summer. In the Hoover school system in Hoover, Ala., some 11,000 students also will go to the four-day-a-week schedule in July.

School officials are encouraging parents to tend to business during the new summer hours.

Officials say the savings are considerable. Some districts can slash $100,000 a year from their fuel bill just by running buses four days a week.

FOX News correspondent Marianne Silber and Ahmad Shuja contributed to this report.