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Flexible Work Schedules

Fact Sheet:  Flexible Work Schedules


An agency may implement for its employees an alternative work schedule (AWS) instead of traditional fixed work schedules (e.g., 8 hours per day, 40 hours per week). Within rules established by the agency, AWS can enable employees to have work schedules that help the employee balance work and family or personal responsibilities.

There are two categories of AWS: flexible work schedules (FWS) and compressed work schedules (CWS).

FWS consist of workdays with (1) core hours and (2) flexible hours. Core hours are the designated period of the day when all employees must be at work. Flexible hours are the part of the workday when employees may (within limits or "bands") choose their time of arrival and departure. Within limits set by their agencies, FWS can enable employees to select and alter their work schedules to better fit personal needs and help balance work, personal, and family responsibilities.

Employee Coverage

A Federal employee, as defined in section 2105(a) or (c) of title 5, United States Code, who is employed by an agency, as defined in 5 U.S.C. 6121(1), may be covered by a flexible work schedule. Flexible work schedules are voluntary work schedules that are approved by supervisors or managers.

Credit Hours

Credit hours are any hours within an FWS that are in excess of an employee's basic work requirement (e.g., 40 hours a week) which the employee elects to work to vary the length of a workweek or a workday. Agencies may limit or restrict the earning and use of credit hours. OPM regulations prohibit Senior Executive Service (SES) members from accumulating credit hours under AWS programs (5 CFR 610.408). The law prohibits carrying over more than 24 credit hours from one pay period to the next (5 U.S.C. 6126).

Types of FWS

There are various types of FWS arrangements that provide different degrees of flexibility. These include flexitour, gliding, variable day, variable week, and maxiflex schedules.

Overtime Hours

Overtime work means all hours of work in excess of 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week which are officially ordered in advance.

Compensatory Time Off

An employee who is not a member of the Senior Executive Service may request compensatory time off in lieu of payment for irregular or occasional overtime work or regularly scheduled overtime work. (See 5 U.S.C. 6123(a)(1).)

Night Pay

In general, premium pay for night work is not paid to a General Schedule (GS) employee solely because the employee elects to work credit hours, or elects a time of arrival or departure, at a time when night pay is authorized.

However, agencies must pay night pay to GS employees for those hours that must be worked between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. to complete an 8-hour tour of duty. Agencies must also pay night pay for all designated core hours worked between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. and for any regularly scheduled overtime work between those hours.

Note: For prevailing rate (wage) employees, see 5 U.S.C. 6123(c)(2).


On holidays, a full-time Flexible Work Schedule (FWS) employee is limited to 8 hours of basic pay. A part-time FWS employee is entitled to basic pay for the number of hours scheduled for the holiday, not to exceed 8 hours. (See 5 U.S.C. 6124.)  In the event the President issues an Executive order granting a "half-day" holiday, full-time FWS employees are entitled to basic pay for the last half of their "basic work requirement" (i.e., nonovertime hours) on that day, not to exceed 4 hours.

Holiday Premium Pay

Holiday premium pay (equal to 100 percent of the rate of basic pay) is limited to nonovertime hours worked, not to exceed a maximum of 8 nonovertime hours per holiday.

Sunday Premium Pay

Sunday premium pay is paid for nonovertime work performed by full-time employees only. A full-time FWS employee earns Sunday premium pay for an entire nonovertime regularly scheduled tour of duty (not to exceed 8 hours) that begins or ends on Sunday. It may not be paid for periods of nonwork, including leave, holidays, and excused absence.


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