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The information in this handbook is guidance. Where requirements are stated, we have cited law or regulation. Also see Negotiating Flexible and Compressed Work Schedules.
The purpose of this handbook is to provide a framework for Federal agencies to consult in establishing alternative work schedules and to provide additional information to assist agencies in administering such programs.
This handbook, with its appendices, provides detailed information on the administration of flexible and compressed work schedules, jointly referred to as alternative work schedules or AWS. However, this handbook does not cover every situation that may arise under an alternative work schedule or other work scheduling options available under 5 U.S.C. 6101. Moreover, since AWS programs for bargaining unit employees are established by negotiated agreements, bargaining unit employees and their supervisors and managers should consult the applicable collective bargaining agreement for its AWS provisions.
Although the decision to establish an AWS program is at the discretion of the agency head, this discretion is subject to the obligation to negotiate with the exclusive representative(s) of bargaining unit employees. Consequently, references in the following pages to actions that agencies may take in implementing AWS programs should not be construed as authorizing unilateral action where bargaining unit employees are concerned.
Terms are defined in the definitions section. Readers unfamiliar with the terminology of alternative work schedules will find it helpful to review these definitions.
For information on the labor relations aspects of establishing and terminating alternative work schedules, see the Labor-Management Relations Guidance Bulletin, "Negotiating Flexible and Compressed Work Schedules," July 1995, OLRWP-12, which can be downloaded from OPM ONLINE, (202) 606-4800.
Under 5 U.S.C. 6122, a flexible work schedule includes designated hours (core hours) and days when an employee must be present for work. A flexible work schedule also includes designated hours during which an employee may elect to work in order to complete the employee's basic (non-overtime) work requirement.
Under 5 U.S.C. 6121(5), a compressed work schedule means that an employee's basic work requirement for each pay period is scheduled (by the agency) for less than 10 workdays. See the definition and requirements for regularly scheduled work in 5 CFR 610.102 and 5 CFR 610.111(d).
Compressed work schedules are always fixed schedules. (See Comptroller General report B-179810, December 4, 1979.) Another difference between flexible and compressed work schedules is that an employee on a flexible work schedule may be credited with a maximum of 8 hours towards the employee's basic work requirement on a holiday or Sunday (see 5 U.S.C. 6124 and the definition of Sunday work in 5 CFR 550.103), whereas the number of holiday or Sunday hours for an employee on a compressed work schedule is the number of hours regularly scheduled for the employee to work on that day if not for the holiday (see 5 U.S.C. 6128(c) and (d)).
There is no authority to establish hybrid work schedules that borrow selectively from the authority for flexible work schedules and the authority for compressed work schedules in an effort to create a hybrid work schedule program providing unauthorized benefits for employees or agencies. See Comptroller General report B-179810, December 4, 1979, and 50 FLRA No. 28, February 23, 1995. However, it should be noted that some forms of flexible work schedules (e.g., maxiflex) allow work to be compressed in fewer than 10 workdays in a biweekly pay period.
Under subchapter II of chapter 61 of title 5, United States Code, AWS programs may apply to employees of any executive agency (excluding the U.S. Postal Service), any military department, the Government Printing Office, or the Library of Congress.
Nothing in the AWS program should be interpreted as diminishing the authority of an organization using nonstandard work schedules under 5 U.S.C. 6101 to continue to operate under those schedules with their applicable premium pay entitlements. (A "nonstandard work schedule" includes any schedule in which full-time employees work other than the standard schedule of 8 hours per day and 5 days per week in an administrative workweek. Such schedules include first 40-hour tours of duty, work schedules for employees receiving annual premium pay for regularly scheduled standby duty or administratively uncontrollable overtime, work schedules for employees receiving availability pay, and any schedule in which employees work more than 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week.)
If the head of an agency finds that a particular AWS schedule has had an "adverse agency impact," the agency must promptly determine not to continue the schedule ( 5 U.S.C. 6131(a)(2)). If establishment of the AWS schedule was negotiated, the agency may reopen the agreement to seek its termination ( 5 U.S.C. 6131(c)(3)). If an impasse results, the dispute goes to the Federal Service Impasses Panel, which will determine within 60 days whether the agency's determination is supported by evidence. If it is, the Panel must act in favor of the agency. See 5 U.S.C. 6131(c)(3)(B) and (C). The AWS schedule may not be terminated until agreement is reached or the Panel acts. (See 5 U.S.C. 6106 and 6131(a)(3)(D).)
The introduction of an AWS program may necessitate changes in payroll procedures, including computer programs. For example, schedules that allow for the use of credit hours may require changes in time and attendance cards or additional records to account for each employee's credit hours. Agencies may permit the accumulation and use of credit hours or overtime hours in fractions of an hour.
If they so desire, agencies may implement AWS programs only for certain periods or seasons of the year. Generally, there are two reasons for such seasonal implementation:
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The definitions in this handbook apply only to Alternative Work Schedules.
The basic work requirement of a flexible work schedule is the number of hours, excluding overtime hours, an employee must work or otherwise account for by leave, credit hours, holiday hours, excused absence, compensatory time off, or time off as an award.
Overtime hours are not included in the definition of a tour of duty for employees under AWS.
Credit hours must be considered daytime hours whenever possible.
See "Travel" for information about credit hours and travel.
An employee who performs regularly scheduled overtime work at night is also entitled to night pay.
Night differential will not be paid solely because a prevailing rate employee elects to work credit hours, or elects a time of arrival or departure at a time of day when night differential is otherwise authorized, except that prevailing rate employees are entitled to night differential for regularly scheduled nonovertime work when a majority of the hours of a FWS schedule for a daily tour of duty occur during the night. (See 5 U.S.C. 5343(f) and 6123(c)(2).)
Agencies must designate the 8 holiday hours applicable to each FWS employee. The 8 hours designated as holiday hours must include all applicable core hours .
When an employee covered by an FWS program is assigned to a temporary duty station using another schedule-either traditional or AWS-the agency may allow the employee to continue to use the schedule used at his or her permanent work site (if suitable) or require the employee to change the schedule to conform to operations at the temporary work site.
Agencies may unilaterally install FWS programs in unorganized units. There is no requirement for a vote by affected employees.
The basic work requirement of a compressed work schedule is the number of hours, excluding overtime hours, an employee is required to work or to account for by charging leave or otherwise:
The tour of duty for employees under a CWS program is defined by a fixed schedule established by the agency. See the definition of "compressed schedule" in 5 U.S.C. 6121(5), which states that the basic work requirement is scheduled for less than 10 work days. Also, see the definition of "regularly scheduled" in 5 CFR 610.102.
Compressed work schedules are arranged to enable employees to fulfill their basic work requirements in less than 10 days during the biweekly pay period. (Examples of these schedules may be found in Appendix C.) Although agencies may change or stagger the arrival and departure times of employees, there are no provisions for employee flexibility in reporting or quitting times under a CWS program.
Compressed work schedules are always fixed schedules. (See B-179810, Comptroller General's Report to the House Subcommittee on Compensation and Employee Benefits, Committee on Post Office and Civil Service, pg. 2, footnote 1, December 4, 1979. Also, see the definition of "compressed schedule" in 5 U.S.C. 6121(5) and 50 FLRA No. 28, February 23, 1995. )
There is no legal authority for credit hours under a CWS program. The law provides for credit hours only for flexible work schedules. See 5 U.S.C. 6121(4).
For a full-time employee under a CWS program who is exempt from the FLSA, overtime hours are all officially ordered and approved hours of work in excess of the compressed work schedule. For a full-time employee who is covered by the FLSA (non-exempt), overtime hours also include any hours worked outside the compressed work schedule that are "suffered or permitted." For a part-time employee, overtime hours are hours in excess of the compressed work schedule for a day (but must be more than 8 hours) or for a week (but must be more than 40 hours).
Employee requests for compensatory time off in lieu of overtime pay may be approved only for irregular or occasional overtime work by an employee (as defined in 5 U.S.C. 5541(2)) or by a prevailing rate employee (as defined in 5 U.S.C. 5342(a)(2)). Compensatory time off may not be approved for an SES member. Mandatory compensatory time off is limited to FLSA-exempt employees (who are not prevailing rate employees) whose rate of basic pay is greater than the rate for GS-10, step 10, and only in lieu of overtime pay for irregular or occasional overtime work. See 5 U.S.C. 5543(a)(2).
The regular rules under 5 U.S.C. 5545(a) and 5 CFR 550.121 and 122 apply. An employee is entitled to night pay for regularly scheduled nightwork performed between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.
The regular rules under 5 U.S.C. 5343(f) apply in determining the majority of hours for entitlement to night pay for prevailing rate employees.
Since CWS schedules are fixed schedules, employees must not be required to move their regularly scheduled days off solely to avoid payment of holiday premium pay or to reduce the number of holiday hours included in the basic work requirement. See 5 U.S.C. 6101(a)(3)(E).
Paid time off during an employee's basic work requirement must be charged to sick or annual leave unless the employee used other paid leave or accumulated compensatory time off, or unless excused absence is approved.
The head of an agency may grant excused absence with pay to employees covered by a CWS program under the same circumstances as excused absence would be granted to employees covered by other work schedules.
When an employee covered by a CWS program is assigned to a temporary duty station using another work schedule-either traditional or AWS-the agency may allow the employee to continue to use the schedule used at his or her permanent work site (if suitable) or require the employee to change the schedule to conform to operations at the temporary work site.
These models typify the more common types of flexible work schedules. The flexitour and gliding schedule examples show daily work schedules. The variable day schedule example is a weekly schedule. The variable week schedule and maxiflex examples are biweekly work schedules. These models are not meant to be all inclusive. Agencies may develop schedules tailored to meet their specific needs.
These models typify the more common types of compressed work schedules. They are not meant to be all inclusive. Agencies should develop schedules tailored to meet their specific needs.
To find the time an employee's workday ends, find the time he/she began the workday along the left-hand column of the grid; then along the top of the grid find the amount of time he/she spent in the midday flex band (for lunch and/or personal time). The point at which the Workday Starting Time row intersects the Midday Flex column is the Ending Time for an 8-hour day.