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Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

5/27/2020

Fact Sheet: The Use of Flexible Work Schedules in Response to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Overview

As Federal agencies develop reconstitution plans and return to regular operations, managers seeking to adapt work arrangements to the COVID-19 environment may use flexible work schedules (FWS) to maintain the productivity, health and safety of the workforce (e.g. by facilitating maintenance of social distance in the workplace). FWS consist of workdays with core hours and flexible hours and allow an employee to complete his or her biweekly basic work requirement by determining his or her own schedule within the limits set by the agency. Those limits may include daily or weekly basic work requirements. Agencies may expand the types of FWS that are available to employees as different types of schedules provide different degrees of flexibility. When combined with telework, FWS can provide agencies with the flexibility to maintain safe social distance between employees in the workplace by reducing the percentage of employees who are in the office at any given time. FWS can also assist employees in balancing professional duties with caregiving and other responsibilities. Additional information on flexible work schedules may be obtained at https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/work-schedules/fact-sheets/alternative-flexible-work-schedules/.

Agencies will need to make decisions on which FWS to adopt or modify based on the impact of COVID-19 on the agency’s mission and employees. Supervisors should communicate the flexibilities and work schedule(s) that are available to their employees, along with their expectations for employees electing to use any new flexibilities. When choosing to implement or change an FWS, agencies must review any applicable collective bargaining agreements or satisfy appropriate collective bargaining obligations. Please note that since bargaining unit employees may participate in flexible work schedules only to the extent provided for in a collective bargaining agreement, agency heads must negotiate the establishment of flexible work schedules. See the Handbook on Alternative Work Schedules for more information at https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/reference-materials/handbooks/alternative-work-schedules/.

Components of an FWS

Basic Work Requirement – The basic work requirement is the number of hours (excluding overtime hours) that an employee is required to work or is required to account for by leave or otherwise. (See 5 U.S.C. 6121(3).) For a full-time employee, the basic work requirement is 80 hours in a biweekly pay period.

Core Hours – Core hours are the designated periods of the day when all employees must be working. Agencies may designate the number of core hours each week to meet their mission needs and are not required to have core hours on every workday. As a minimum requirement, an FWS must have at least 2 core hours on each of 2 workdays within a biweekly pay period. (See 5 U.S.C. 6122(a)(1).) An employee must (1) account for missed core hours (if permitted) with leave, credit hours, or compensatory time off or (2) with agency approval, work the core hours at another time (within the same workday) or on another day within the pay period.

Flexible Hours – Flexible hours (flexible time bands) are those hours during which an employee covered by an FWS may choose to vary his or her starting or stopping times when teleworking (or times of arrival to and departure from the work site) consistent with the duties and requirements of the position. (See 5 U.S.C. 6122(a)(2).) An agency may establish limitations on when basic work requirement hours may be performed—e.g., the days of the week on which an employee may perform such hours and limits on the number of such hours on a given day. An agency may choose to not establish flexible time bands on certain days, such as Sundays and holidays, thus limiting the designated days on which an employee may complete his or her basic work requirement.

Credit Hours – Agency FWS policies may allow employees to earn credit hours. Credit hours are hours that an employee elects to work, with supervisory approval, in excess of the employee’s basic work requirement under an FWS. Credit hours may only be earned during the established flexible hours (flexible time bands). An employee may use credit hours during future basic work requirement hours, subject to supervisory approval and any agency policies that bar use in the same week or pay period. A full-time employee may not accumulate more than 24 credit hours for carryover from a biweekly pay period to a succeeding biweekly pay period. A part-time employee may not accumulate more than one-fourth of the hours in such employee’s biweekly basic work requirement. Varying the number of hours worked per workday or administrative workweek, while not exceeding agency-established limits on the number of basic work requirement hours that may be worked on a day or in a week, does not generate credit hours. Credit hours are generated when accumulated hours exceed the employee’s basic work requirement (i.e., 80 hours for a full-time employee) during a biweekly pay period. For more information, please see: https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/work-schedules/fact-sheets/credit-hours-under-a-flexible-work-schedule/.

FWS Examples

See below for examples of potential types of FWS. Please note these examples are illustrative and not all-inclusive.

Flexitour – Employees select starting and stopping (or arrival and departure) times subject to agency approval. (This results in a fixed schedule until the next selection period, as determined by the agency.) A full-time employee’s basic work requirement must be completed by working on 5 workdays per week, 8 hours per day, 40 hours per week, and 80 hours per biweekly pay period.

Gliding – Employees may vary starting and stopping (or arrival and departure) times on a daily basis during the established flexible hours. A full-time employee’s basic work requirement must be completed by working on 5 workdays per week, 8 hours per day, 40 hours per week, and 80 hours per biweekly pay period.

Variable Day – Employees may vary starting and stopping (or arrival and departure) times on a daily basis during the established flexible hours along with the length of the workday. (An agency may limit the number of basic work requirement hours an employee may work on a daily basis—such as, no more than 10 hours per day.) A full-time employee must have 40 basic work requirement hours each week.

Variable Week – Employees may vary starting and stopping (or arrival and departure) times on a daily basis during the established flexible hours. Employees may also vary the length of the workday and the workweek. An agency may limit the number of basic work requirement hours an employee may work on a daily basis (such as, no more than 10 hours per day) or in a workweek. A full-time employee must have 80 basic work requirement hours in a biweekly pay period.

Maxiflex – Employees may vary starting and stopping (or arrival and departure) times on a daily basis during the established flexible hours. An employee may also vary the length of the workday and the workweek. (An agency may limit the number of basic work requirement hours an employee may work on a daily basis or in a workweek.) An employee may work less than 10 workdays biweekly because of the absence of core hours on one of the normal workdays. A full-time employee must have 80 basic work requirement hours in a biweekly pay period.

Premium Pay:

Overtime – For an employee on a FWS, overtime hours are all hours of work in excess of 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week that are officially ordered in advance by management. (See the definition of “overtime hours” at 5 U.S.C. 6121(6).) However, hours within an employee’s basic work requirement are not overtime hours even if they exceed an applicable daily or weekly overtime threshold. (For example, an employee would not earn overtime for electing to work a 9-hour day within the basic work requirement of his or her FWS. The employee would only be entitled to overtime pay for additional hours that are ordered in advance by management.) Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) covered (nonexempt) employees on FWS may not earn overtime pay as a result of “suffered or permitted” hours (under the FLSA) as hours of work. (See 5 U.S.C. 6123(a). An FLSA-nonexempt employee is compensated under FLSA only for “overtime hours” as defined in 5 U.S.C. 6121(6).)

Compensatory Time Off in lieu of Overtime – An agency may grant compensatory time off in lieu of overtime pay at the request of the employee under an FWS for regularly scheduled or irregular or occasional overtime hours of work. (See 5 U.S.C. 6123(a) and 5 CFR 550.114(b).) Agencies may order mandatory compensatory time off, in lieu of overtime pay for irregular or occasional overtime work, only for those employees who are FLSA-exempt and whose rate of basic pay exceeds the rate for GS-10, step 10. (See 5 U.S.C. 5543(a)(2) and 5 CFR 550.114(c).)

Night Pay – Normally, night pay is payable for any regularly scheduled hours of work between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. (see 5 U.S.C. 5545(a) and 5 CFR 550.121-550.122). However, special rules apply to night pay for FWS employees. For an FWS employee, agencies generally must pay night pay for those hours that must be worked between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. to complete an 8-hour daily tour of duty. Agencies must also pay night pay for any nonovertime work performed between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. during designated core hours. (See 5 U.S.C. 6123(c).) However, if an employee has 8 or more hours available for work during daytime hours (i.e., between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.) within agency-established limits on when basic work requirement hours may be performed, he or she is not entitled to night pay because he or she voluntarily elects to work during hours for which night pay is normally required (i.e., between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.).

Holidays – A full-time employee who is relieved or prevented from working on a day designated as a Federal holiday is entitled to his or her rate of basic pay on that day for 8 hours. (See 5 U.S.C. 6124.) An FWS employee cannot receive more than 8 hours of paid holiday time off.

Holiday Premium Pay – A full-time employee who performs non-overtime work on a holiday (or a day designated as the “in lieu of” holiday under 5 U.S.C. 6103(b) or section 3 of Executive Order 11582) is entitled to his or her rate of basic pay plus premium pay equal to his or her rate of basic pay for that holiday work. Holiday premium pay is limited to a maximum of 8 hours. (See 5 U.S.C. 5546(b) and 5 CFR 550.131-550.132.) Agencies must designate the 8 holiday hours applicable to each FWS employee. If an agency allows an FWS employee to elect to perform holiday work within the employee’s basic work requirement, the employee generally would be entitled to holiday premium pay—a 100-percent premium for up to 8 hours in a daily tour on a holiday. (See 5 CFR 610.111(d).) As part of the limitations that an agency establishes for an FWS, an agency may bar employees from performing work on a holiday without approval.

Sunday Premium Pay – An employee is entitled to Sunday premium pay for up to 8 hours of his or her basic work requirement based on electing to work flexible hours during a basic tour of duty that begins or ends on Sunday. (See 5 U.S.C. 5546(a) and 5 CFR 550.171.) However, an agency may preclude employees from working flexible hours during a basic tour of duty that begins or ends on Sunday. FWS employees may not earn Sunday premium pay when they earn or use credit hours. If an agency allows an FWS employee to elect to complete basic work requirement hours by working on Sunday, the employee generally would be entitled to Sunday premium pay—a 25 percent premium for up to 8 hours in a daily tour that includes Sunday hours. As part of the limitations an agency establishes for an FWS, an agency may bar employees from completing basic work requirement hours on a Sunday.

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Fact Sheet: The Use of a Maxiflex Work Schedule in Response to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

A maxiflex work schedule can be used to address a wide range of COVID-19 work situations. A maxiflex work schedule is a type of flexible work schedule (FWS) that, when combined with telework, provides the most flexibility to employees who need to address the dual demands of work and caregiving, as well as other personal responsibilities in response to COVID-19. To help agencies better understand the current options available under this work schedule in responding to COVID-19, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is providing this fact sheet. Please note, the maxiflex scenarios listed within this fact sheet are illustrative and agencies may devise other types of maxiflex work schedules under their internal FWS policies.

Overview of Flexible Work Schedules

An FWS allows an employee to complete an 80-hour biweekly basic work requirement by determining his or her own schedule within the limits set by the agency. An FWS consists of workdays with core hours and flexible hours. Core hours are the designated period of the day when all employees must be present for work. Flexible hours are the part of the workday when employees may (within limits or "bands") choose their time of arrival and departure (i.e., starting and stopping work time).

For more information on FWS and other alternative work schedules, please see the FWS fact sheet at: https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/work-schedules/fact-sheets/alternative-flexible-work-schedules/, the Handbook on Alternative Work Schedules at: https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/reference-materials/handbooks/alternative-work-schedules/, and the fact sheet on the Use of Flexible Work Schedules in Response to COVID-19 at: https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/covid-19/opm-fact-sheet-the-use-of-flexible-work-schedules-in-response-to-coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19/. Additional information on work schedules can be found at: https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/work-schedules/. When choosing to implement or change an FWS, agencies must review any applicable collective bargaining agreements or satisfy appropriate collective bargaining obligations. Please note that since bargaining unit employees may participate in flexible work schedules only to the extent provided for in a collective bargaining agreement, agency heads must negotiate the establishment of flexible work schedules.

Features of a Maxiflex Work Schedule

A full-time employee under a maxiflex schedule must have a basic work requirement of 80 hours in a biweekly pay period. (The agency head determines the number of basic work requirement hours in a biweekly pay period for a part-time employee.) Agencies must establish flexible and core hours and the employee must work during core hours. Core hours are the designated periods of the day when all employees must be working. Agencies may designate the number of core hours each week to meet their mission needs and are not required to have core hours on every workday. As a minimum requirement, an FWS must have at least 2 core hours on each of 2 workdays within a biweekly pay period. However, agencies may choose not to establish core hours on each workday, thus providing maximum flexibility for employees. An employee must (1) account for missed core hours (if permitted) with leave, credit hours, or compensatory time off or (2) with agency approval, work the core hours at another time (within the same workday) or on another day within the pay period. As a minimum requirement, a maxiflex work schedule must have scheduled at least 2 core hours on each of 2 workdays within a biweekly pay period. Because of the absence of core hours on one of the normal workdays, an employee may work fewer than 10 days in a biweekly pay period. Within agency-established flexible time zones or bands, an employee may vary arrival and departure times (i.e., starting and stopping work times) on a daily basis during the established flexible hours. An employee may also vary the length of the workday. Agencies may limit the number of hours an employee may work on a daily basis. An employee may also vary the length of the workweek. An agency may choose to not establish flexible time bands on certain days, such as Sundays and holidays. If an agency allows an employee to complete basic work requirement hours by working on Sunday, the employee generally would be entitled to Sunday premium pay - a 25-percent premium for up to 8 hours in a daily tour that includes Sunday hours. If an agency allows an employee to perform holiday work, the employee generally would be entitled to holiday premium pay - a 100-percent premium for up to 8 hours in a daily tour on a holiday.

Scenario 1 (Monday - Friday Maxiflex Schedule and Telework)

Normal Flexible Hours: Monday through Friday, 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Expanded Flexible Hours under COVID-19: Monday through Friday, 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Core day/hours: Wednesdays, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. (excluding a 30-minute unpaid meal break).

Note: The agency bars employees covered by the maxiflex work schedule from performing work on a holiday without approval. A full-time employee will receive holiday pay for 8 basic work requirement hours on the holiday during which no work is performed. The agency cancels core hours that fall on a holiday.

An agency allows employees to elect to work a maxiflex work schedule and to telework. An employee can complete the biweekly work requirement in less than 10 days. he maxiflex schedule is comprised of core hours on each Wednesday from 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. (excluding a 30-minute unpaid lunch break) and flexible time bands allowing employees to start their workday as early as 6:00 a.m. and complete their workday as late as 6:00 p.m. on Monday through Friday. In response to COVID-19, the agency has decided to expand its flexible time bands to allow greater flexibility for its employees. The agency will expand its flexible bands in the evening to allow employees to work until 10:00 p.m. on Monday through Friday with the same core hours requirement.

An employee participates in an agency’s maxiflex work schedule and typically begins the workday at 7:00 a.m., working an 8-hour day (plus a 30-minute unpaid lunch break), and ending the workday at 3:30 p.m. Under the expanded maxiflex schedule, the employee can change his or her work schedule to 11:00 a.m. - 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, completing an 8-hour workday without the need to take leave or other time off.

Is night pay authorized? No. The employee does not earn night pay for any hours worked after 6:00 p.m. because there are 8 hours available within the agency’s established maxiflex time bands to be worked outside of the nighttime hours (6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.) and no core hours are required during the night. The core hours are 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday.

Scenario 2 (Expanded Flexible Hours and Night Pay)

Flexible Hours: Monday through Friday: 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Core days/hours: Tuesday and Thursday, 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. (excluding any 30-minute unpaid lunch break)

Note: The agency bars employees covered by the maxiflex work schedule from performing work on a holiday without approval. A full-time employee will receive holiday pay for 8 basic work requirement hours on the holiday during which no work is performed. The agency cancels core hours that fall on a holiday.

An agency has approved the utilization of a maxiflex work schedule in response to COVID-19. This schedule is being used to ensure that the agency maintains continuity of operations and successfully maintains its mission. The maxiflex schedule will include core hours on Tuesday and Thursday from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and flexible time bands will be available from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. on Monday through Friday.

An employee is teleworking full-time during COVID-19. Under the maxiflex schedule, this particular employee elects to work from 12:00 noon to 8:30 p.m. each day to complete an 8-hour tour of duty (after taking into account a 30-minute unpaid meal break from 3:00 to 3:30 p.m.).

Is night pay authorized? Yes, but not all nighttime hours will generate night pay. Normally, an employee is entitled to night pay for the hours worked after 6:00 p.m. but, for employees with a flexible work schedule, night pay is based on whether the employee was required work nighttime hours to complete 8 basic work requirement hours in a workday. The agency’s maxiflex schedule does not have more than 8 hours available for an employee to complete his or her 8-hour tour of duty during non-nighttime hours between 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Taking into account a 30-minute unpaid meal break, accounting for an 8-hour day from the earliest tour of duty start time of 11:00 am would require the employee to end his/her workday at 7:30 p.m. There are 1.5 hours of work that must occur at night (between 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.) that the employee is required to work to in order to complete an 8-hour tour of duty. The employee does not have an opportunity to complete his/her 8-hour workday during non-nighttime hours as the 11:00 am to 6:00 p.m. period (including a 30-minute unpaid lunch break) will only account for 6.5 hours of work, not the required 8 hours. The employee in question chose to start work at 12:00 noon and to end work at 8:30 p.m. (including a 30-minute unpaid meal break); thus, while the employee had 2.5 hours of nighttime work, the employee was only required to work 1.5 night hours to complete 8 hours. Therefore, the employee earns night pay for 1.5 night hours.

Scenario 3 (Expanded Flexible Hours and Holidays)

Flexible Hours: Monday through Friday: 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Core day/hours: Thursdays, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. (excluding a 30-minute unpaid lunch break)

Note: The agency bars employees covered by the maxiflex work schedule from performing work on a holiday without approval. A full-time employee will receive holiday pay for 8 basic work requirement hours on the holiday during which no work is performed. The agency cancels core hours that fall on a holiday.

An agency is permitting its employees to work a maxiflex work schedule in response to COVID-19. The maxiflex schedule will have core hours each Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. (excluding a 30-minute unpaid lunch break) and flexible time bands starting at 6:00 a.m. and running until 10:00 p.m. available Monday through Friday. Employees are also permitted to telework full-time in response to COVID-19. The agency limits employees to no more than 10 basic work requirement hours on any workday.

An employee, teleworking full-time due to COVID-19, participates in the maxiflex work schedule. In a particular biweekly pay period, this employee completes his 80-hour basic work requirement in 9 days by working more than 8 hours on some days. In addition, in this particular biweekly pay period, there is a Federal holiday.

Is holiday paid time off authorized? When a holiday occurs, a full-time employee on a flexible work schedule (including a maxiflex schedule) is entitled to 8 hours of pay on a holiday when the employee does not work. (See 5 U.S.C. 6124.) The employee may not receive holiday paid time off for more than 8 hours even if the number of hours the employee might typically have worked on a day that is designated as a holiday exceed 8 hours. The employee must account for any additional hours the employee typically works on the 8-hour holiday and would either need to take leave (or other time off) or work additional hours during the biweekly pay period to ensure the employee has an 80-hour workweek.

If the agency policy had allowed an employee under the maxiflex work schedule to choose to perform holiday work, the agency would generally be obligated to pay a 100-percent premium for up to 8 hours of holiday work.

Scenario 4 (Monday - Saturday Maxiflex Schedule and Telework)

Normal Flexible Hours: Monday through Friday, 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Expanded Flexible Hours under COVID-19: Monday through Saturday, 5:00 a.m. to 12:00 midnight

Core day/hours: Thursdays, 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Note: The agency bars employees covered by the maxiflex work schedule from performing work on a holiday without approval. A full-time employee will receive holiday pay for 8 basic work requirement hours on the holiday during which no work is performed. The agency cancels core hours that fall on a holiday.

An agency is allowing employees to telework full-time in response to COVID-19. The agency has also established a maxiflex work schedule to provide maximum flexibility for those employees affected by COVID-19. The agency’s maxiflex schedule will have core hours on each Thursday from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. and flexible time bands available from 5:00 a.m. to 12:00 midnight on Monday through Saturday.

An employee, teleworking full-time, participates in the maxiflex work schedule. The employee is unable to work Monday through Wednesday. Due to the expanded flexible hours, the employee can complete the 80-hour biweekly work requirement on Thursday through Saturday without needing to take leave or other time off.

Is night pay authorized? No. The employee does not earn night pay for any hours worked during nighttime hours (6:00 p.m. – 6:00 a.m.) because there are 8 hours available to be worked in the flexible time bands outside of the nighttime hours and no core hours are required during the night. The core hours are 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm on each Thursday.

Note: If the agency chooses to make Sunday hours available under a maxiflex work schedule, an employee generally would be entitled to 25-percent Sunday premium pay for up to 8 hours of his or her basic work requirement based on electing to work flexible hours during a daily basic tour of duty that begins or ends on Sunday.

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