Informational technology specialist CGI Inc. has decided to lengthen the work week of about 1,000 employees in Ontario and Quebec to increase its global competitiveness, particularly in attracting U.S. customers.

As of Oct. 11, full-time employees will work 40 hours, but receive no extra compensation for the additional 21/2 hours of work.

The change affects employees in parts of CGI’s operations based in the Toronto area, but is not a company-wide policy. About 3,000 of CGI’s 16,000 Canadian employees will work the lengthened work week. The operations based in Atlantic Canada work 40 hours because of its overseas contracts.

American employees also work longer hours — about 40 per cent of CGI’s 26,000 employees do so.

CGI spokesman Lorne Gorber said the change was made because of the need for its professional services business to align itself with what its competitors such as IBM are doing, especially in the key U.S. market, where employees work 40 hours per week.

“Certainly clients want to squeeze more juice out of every lemon, so I think it’s us trying to be more productive and deliver as much as we can by way of cost savings and efficiency improvements,” he said in an interview.