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Frequently Asked Questions Pandemic

Can management mandate an alternative work schedule?

Different rules apply depending on whether an employee is in a bargaining or non-bargaining unit and whether the agency has a flexible or compressed work schedule.

  • If an employee is in a bargaining unit, the agency must successfully negotiate an alternative work schedule program (compressed work schedule or flexible work schedule) with the union prior to implementation. (See 5 U.S.C. 6130.) Bargaining unit employees may participate in an alternative work schedule program only under the terms provided in a negotiated agreement. Therefore, an agency that wishes to establish such a program for these employees must negotiate the establishment and terms of the program with the exclusive representative of the bargaining unit.
  • A majority of affected employees in a non-bargaining unit must vote to be included in a compressed work schedule program when participation in the program would be mandatory. (See 5 U.S.C. 6127(b).) For the purpose of this vote, a majority is obtained when the number of affirmative votes exceeds 50 percent of the number of employees and supervisors in the organization proposed for inclusion in a compressed work schedule. (If participation in a compressed work schedule program is voluntary for each employee, a vote is unnecessary because employees who elect not to participate are not included and are unaffected.)
If the head of an agency determines that a flexible or compressed work schedule has an “adverse agency impact” (e.g., a reduction in productivity, a diminished level of service to the public, or an increase in operational costs) the agency may discontinue the alternative work schedule. (See 5 U.S.C. 6131(a).)

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