Alternative Work Schedules

Editor's Note: Flexibility in the scheduling of hours worked may increase efficiency.

Marta MoakleyOverview: One type of special work arrangement allows for flexibility in the scheduling of working time. Alternative work schedules may include a flextime arrangement, which specifically defines "core hours" (hours during which the employee must be at the workplace) and allows workers to vary the workday's start and end times.

In addition, workers may elect to work a compressed workweek. For example, an employee will still log 40 hours per week, but instead of working five eight-hour days, the employee works four ten-hour days. Another popular arrangement is the "5-4-9" compressed schedule: employees work nine-hour days every workday, and have every other Friday off.

Supervisors may also make special arrangements with respect to shift and break schedules. However, employers must ensure that any applicable external legal requirements, e.g., Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requirements, are met.

Trends: In addition to federal requirements under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a growing number of states impose lactation break requirements for employers. In fashioning an employee's alternative work schedule, employers should bear in mind not only the amount and frequency of breaks to which the employee may be entitled, but also if there exist any associated employee privacy requirements (such as providing a private area in which to express breast milk).

Author: Marta Moakley, JD, Legal Editor

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HR guidance on the legal risks and benefits of alternative work schedules.