Additional frequently asked questions/concerns
- If one person has a flexible schedule, won’t everyone want it?
- If one employee has flexibility it won’t be fair to other staff? Don’t all employees need to be treated equally?
- To work as a team, doesn’t everyone need to be in the office at the same time?
- Won’t an employee on a flexible schedule require much more work to manage?
- Won’t workflex create more work for the flexer’s colleagues?
- Can non-exempt employees have workflex given over time rules?
- Don’t union rules prohibit workflex with bargained-for employees?
- If everyone comes and goes as they please, how will we get the work done.
- How will staff be supervised if a manager is not always present?
- What if no one is here to perform the needed coverage?
- What should be done about sick days and holiday schedule?
- Are there Federal or State laws that need to be considered?
Everyone’s needs are not the same, and people’s needs often change over time at different stages of their lives. For flex start/stop times – some people are fine with the regular office hours, others have specific reasons for needing to come in earlier or later than colleagues. For flex place - many people enjoy the separation of their workplace from their home. They enjoy the interactions with their peers, and find the organization of the office more conducive to getting their work done. You may be surprised at the small number of employees who really want to work from home for even part of their schedule. For compressed work weeks - Four ten-hour days also do not appeal to everyone, especially parents of young children. Child care is often not available for the twelve hour span that such a schedule would require, and parents would not want to be home so late, making the evening even more hectic. In terms of part time arrangements, many employees cannot afford to reduce their incomes, even on a short-term basis. Among Fortune Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For,” just 2% of professional employees and 10% of hourly or administrative workers work part-time on an ongoing basis.
If one employee has flexibility it won’t be fair to other staff. Don’t all employees need to be treated equally?
The 21st Century workforce is diverse and has different needs at different times of their lives. No longer will one solution work for every employee. Treating employees fairly means giving their needs and desires equal individual attention and respect. Also, unit business needs must be a priority for all employees as well as the manager. When an employee is requesting a workflex, the unit’s business needs, manager’s needs and co-worker’s needs all must be considered by both the employee and manager. Flexibility is a partnership with all parties affected. If approached together as a team, flexible arrangements can be beneficial for the whole group and can strengthen the trust and cohesion of a team.
Managers can continue to set in-person staff meetings on a regular basis even if employees work different schedules or off-site. There is no reason not to have times when all employees can be scheduled to meet together. Also, with advanced cell phones, teleconferencing, email and electronic file sharing, team members can have meetings, work on documents together, and stay in touch in a number of different ways. Technology allows employees who might want to work from home as part of a workflex stay connected to their supervisor and colleagues.
Supervision of an employee on a flex arrangement should not increase. As with all employees, work objectives must be defined and managers must use multiple strategies to communicate and monitor progress. With workflex, issues such as the initial agreement, setting goals and objectives, managing to outcomes rather than time, distribution of work for the team, and communication strategies can be discussed in advance, put in writing and then reviewed regularly with the manager and employee.
The way co-workers communicate and work on projects with an employee who flexes may change, but the overall workload of co-workers should not increase. In the case of gradual return to work arrangements, co-workers may be asked to pick up some additional duties on a short-term basis, but this effort is greatly preferable to the increased work and disruption that would be caused if a valued employee resigned in order to achieve flexibility. It’s also important for co-workers to remember that they may need to rely on their colleagues for similar support in the future.
Overtime rules do not prohibit alternative work schedules or work from home as long as the employee has agreed to the arrangement. Overtime pay at time and a half is required only if the flexible arrangement includes working over 40 hours in a single week. For most arrangements, this would not be the case.
When a flexible arrangement is being developed with a union employee, the union contract should be consulted to confirm that the arrangement is permitted. In most cases, when an employee asks for a flexible accommodation, the union contract will support the request. In fact, it may be unionized employees who are most in need of flexible arrangements, given the high cost and limited availability of child care, the high cost of gas and long commutes. However, Union contracts may need to be revised to do this.
The business needs of the department take priority over individual scheduling changes. Allowing staff to schedule coverage has been shown to produce positive results when business needs are clearly defined. If scheduling decisions cannot be resolved among peers, the manager can make recommendations such as rotating schedules or when the opportunity arises, hiring new staff with specific schedule times identified to assure coverage.
When there is a climate of trust, employees appreciate the opportunity and perform to meet expectations. In the few instances where performance is questioned, disciplinary action can be taken or standard work schedules can be returned to for those employees in question.
When business needs are established in advance, managers can work with the team to see how much flexibility is feasible. In some instances, employees may have to temporarily re-arrange their schedules to meet the unit’s needs. In other instances, there may be an agreement for employees to take turns to ensure the unit is covered. If some employees work a compressed work week (e.g. four ten-hour days) their schedules may be organized so that each one works a different four day schedule in order to ensure 10 hour coverage for all five days of the week.
Several options are available depending upon the employee’s schedule. For part time staff, holidays and vacation/sick hours are pro-rated in relation to their scheduled hours. For others, such as those on ten hour days, they may revert to a standard schedule on holiday weeks so that each holiday is an eight hour holiday. Or many units pro-rate time by the hour, so if there is an eight-hour holiday and the person works a 10 hour shift, adjustments are made accordingly.
Yes, for non-exempt employees who are subject to overtime (see FSLA regulations) the total hours worked in a week or pay period must be monitored in order to avoid paying overtime.