Volunteer Group to Begin Night Shift Custodial Duties
Gerald Schaffer, Vice President for Administrative Services
On August 13, a second group of University of Florida Physical Plant staff members will begin new night shift duties. This group of 34 custodial workers joins 40 others who have already assumed night shift responsibilities. Those who volunteered to work nights will stay in their current building. Additionally, staff members working nights may choose to work in teams.
All members of the University of Florida community should appreciate the dedication of our Physical Plant staff in making our campus a safer, more pleasant environment in which to work, learn and live. Through volunteering to work night shifts, these staff members have demonstrated exceptional commitment to the university. All of us in the university community owe them a debt of thanks.
Clearly, any change in work schedules is accompanied by a concern for the welfare of those undergoing the transition. Therefore, the following questions and answers have been provided for your reference:
Q: How many custodial positions are there? A: 475 total. Of these, 125 Health Science Center employees and 120 special team members (carpet cleaners, movers, etc.) are already involved with a strong day/night shift component and, therefore, will not be affected by any change in schedules. Of the remaining 230 members, 40 are already on night shift duty, with some performing those duties since 1997-98.
Q: Have all night shift changes been filled with volunteers? Is this the case for the upcoming group and the foreseeable future? A: Yes. All of the staff members in the upcoming group moving to night shift will be volunteers. This program will remain voluntary.
Q: Why the further shift changes? A: There is a continued need to allow custodial staff free access to offices and classrooms. However, instead of making a wholesale change in operations, the adjustments to shifts are more gradual to allow for careful assessments of operational efficiency and to minimize the impact on the staff. Currently, classes at UF can run from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. in many campus buildings. Under the new plan, the bulk of housekeeping services would be completed during the 11 p.m. – 7:30 a.m. shift. The limited day shift from 5 a.m. -1:30 p.m. will respond to special emergency needs.
Q: What about security for night shift operations? A: Night shift custodial staff may request to work in teams. When those requests are made, they will be honored.
Q: What is the shift standard at other universities? A: The industry standard, including universities, is to have much of the custodial work accomplished after standard business hours.
Q: If any staff member discovers that night shift work is not in their personal best interests, can they be re-transferred to day shift? A: Yes. It is clear that night shift work may not work for everyone. Accommodations will continue to be made for those who cannot work at night. However, the advantages of a night shift, including a 10% shift differential pay increase, may allow all staff members the option best suited to their needs.