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Flextime / Compressed Work Weeks

Flex hours is just one of a selection of flexible working patterns which offer businesses and employees an alternative to the traditional 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM workday. Also known as flex time, schemes allow employees to balance their work and personal lives. This involves the employee varying the pattern they work their contracted hours, usually by altering their arrival or departure times on a daily basis. Exact details of flex hour schemes vary from organization to organization and fall into several different categories.

Compressed Work Schedules

A compressed work schedule allows an employee to work a traditional 35-40 hour workweek in less than five workdays. For example, a full-time employee could work four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days.

This option is more easily applied to non-exempt (bi-weekly paid) staff for whom maximum work hours are identified, but it is not ruled out for salaried staff who may work more than 40 hours during the work week. Payroll practices require non-exempt staff that agree to a compressed work week arrangement to be paid overtime based on all hours over 40 in a workweek.

Another popular option is a nine day/two week work arrangement, which allows for two weeks of work to be compressed into nine or nine and a half days of work. This is popular with staff members who want some flexibility in their schedule and do not mind extra time built into the beginning or end of the work day, but do not want the long days compressed work weeks require.

Note: The nine day/two week option can be difficult to arrange for non-exempt staff members. According to the FLSA, all non-exempt staff members who work in excess of 40 hours in a standard workweek or 80 hours in a pay period are eligible for overtime pay.

Advantages and Challenges

Staff members working compressed work weeks may spend less time commuting during a given week. The longer workday may be physically and mentally draining.
Staff members working compressed work weeks have more time outside of work to take care of personal responsibilities; as a result they can be more focused on the tasks at hand during their scheduled work time. It may be a challenge to sustain morale among staff members who work long days but do not have the opportunity to work a compressed work week.
Staff members working compressed work weeks may be more productive during the hours outside of the traditional workday, when fewer staff members are present. Some types of compressed schedules, such as 80 hours over 9 days, may present a challenge to supervisors of non-exempt staff members, since overtime must be paid to non-exempt staff members who work more than 40 hours in a given week.
Compressed work weeks can improve work area coverage and extend the hours of service to internal and external customers. Staff members may find it difficult to arrange dependent care or transportation around the longer workday.

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