Benefits from Flexible Work Schedules--Legal Limitations Remain

FPCD-77-62: Published: Sep 26, 1977. Publicly Released: Sep 26, 1977.

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There is no apparent reason why the government might not benefit from the use of flexible or compressed work schedules. A flexible schedule allows employees the freedom to choose, within given constraints, their working hours. Compressed schedules are fixed and involve working the same number of hours as usual in fewer days. An estimated 10,000 nonfederal organizations with 1.2 million employees are using compressed schedules, and from 300,000 to 1 million nonfederal employees are using flexible schedules. As of May 1977, 90 federal organizations with more than 141,000 employees were either experimenting with flexible schedules or using them permanently.

In both federal and nonfederal organizations, increased productivity, improved morale, reduced tardiness, and reduced short-term leave usage were noted. Disadvantages were generally that meetings were difficult to arrange and work flow was hard to maintain properly. Employee unions contacted were not opposed to schedules limiting employees to workdays of 8 hours or less, but felt that overtime should be paid even when the employee volunteers for the overtime. The unions considered the flexible schedules to be acceptable providing there is union input in the planning. Existing labor laws hamper the experimentation in and use of alternate work schedules, especially making compressed schedules financially impractical.

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