Alternative Work Schedules Essay, Research Paper
Alternative Work Schedules
Alternative Schedules offer both the employer and employee a versatile and innovative
work scheduling program in the work place. In recent years, the importance of flexible and
compressed work schedules have been enhanced by the emergence of work and family issues. As
the workforce ages, becomes more culturally diverse, and women make up a greater percentage
of the work force, management officials are grappling with ways to resolve conflicts that arise
when an employee’s work and family responsibilities collide.
Alternative Work Schedules (AWS) are non-traditional work programs that allow employees an alternative to the standard 8 to 5, Monday through Friday workweek. An alternative work schedule refers to varying types of flexible and compressed work schedules.
Compressed Work Schedule (CWS) means a full time employee who has an 80-hour biweekly basic work requirement can choose to work more than 8 hours per day in order to complete the basic work requirement in less than 10 days. Examples of a compressed work weeks are the 4/10 schedule, in which an employee works 10 hours a day four days each week, or the 3/13 where a full time employee works 13 hours and 20 minutes each day three days a week for 40 hours per week, or the 5/4-9 model which schedules employees to work nine hours a day for 8 days and 8 hours one day gaining one extra day off every other week.
Flexible Work Schedule (FWS) refers to a full time employee who has an 80-hour biweekly basic work requirement can choose to vary his or her times of arrival to and departure from the work site within the limits set by the requirements of the position and consistent with the policies of the agency.
The difference between the two types of schedules mentioned above are, flexible work schedule frequently referred to as flextime replaces the fixed shift work-day, by breaking the day into two types of time bands, core time and flex time. Within a flexible work schedule, an employee must be present during core time and must work the total number of hours for which she or he has contracted. On the other hand compressed work schedules modify the basic work requirement to less than 10 days but continue with required shifts that make up a pre-established biweekly pay period.
A compressed work week may be the flexible work arrangement you need as part of your
work and family balance management strategy, but you must first carefully consider the personal
advantages and disadvantages.
On the positive side, most employees appreciate having a regular full day off, while still
preserving full-time income. Additionally, the commute to and from work may outside the usual
“rush hour” traffic time because of the extended work day, and thus less stressful. For many
commuters, the road to and from work is paved with too much traffic and congestion, and not
nearly enough time to get where they?re going. Along with reducing statewide traffic congestion,
everyone benefits with less crowded roads and cleaner air (Levitan, 1977).
On the negative side, an ongoing schedule of ten-hour days, while it may be the norm for
some professionals already, can be physically and mentally draining. Not only is the work week
squeezed into a shorter time frame, but, after-work activities must also be wedged into the
remaining hours of each work day. Chronic fatigue caused by current work and family conflict
time pressures may or may not be offset by the regular day off. Child care coverage to match
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your compressed work schedule may also be a challenge. Of course, working parents are not the
only ones with a time-pressured lifestyle. Other career professionals with various work and life
balance needs, such as eldercare, school, home and business, leisure and community pursuits,
have also been drawn away from alternative work schedules (Maklan, 1977).
Alternative work schedule programs have the potential to enable managers and supervisors to
meet their program goals while, at the same time, allowing employees to be more flexible in
scheduling their personal activities. As employees gain greater control over their time, they can,
for example, balance work and family responsibilities more easily, become involved in volunteer
activities, and take advantage of educational opportunities. The employee benefits provided by
an alternative work week programs also are useful recruitment and retention tools.
Instituting a compressed work schedule can be a great asset to an employer, it can; reduce
absenteeism, tardiness and turnover, provide employers with more customer contact, allow for
more set-up time at the start of a shift, give employees more flexibility for family
responsibilities, lower operating costs, if a facility can be closed one day a week.
Management has the authority to alter employees’ scheduling arrangements when
arrangements interfere with the effective accomplishment of government business. Management
is also able to adjust employees work schedules, especially their arrival and departure times to
ensure that the duties of employees positions are fulfilled or to ensure office coverage during the
hours the office is open for business, will be subject to the arbitrator’s definition of “substantially
disrupted” and “additional costs (Cyriax,1980).
Additionally, using a flexible and compressed work schedules it has helped agencies recruit
for some hard-to-fill jobs and helped agencies retain employees who otherwise would have
resigned or been terminated. Additionally, a survey by the Office of Personnel Management
found that the availability of flexible or compressed work schedules is important to employees
with dependent care responsibilities and figures into their employment decisions.
Ultimately, these programs can help improve employee productivity, attendance and morale,
not to mention a company?s image.
Some potential problem areas that should be dealt with in the design of a flexible or
compressed work schedule include how the schedule will accommodate events like training,
travel, jury duty, military leave, two holidays in the same pay period, etc.
Additionally, some other ill effects a compressed workweek are, it would require longer
work days and could increase employee fatigue, causing productivity to decline, it also could
prevent the timely delivery of services, because of the unavailability of certain employees,
problems relating to productivity and service to its customers, costs could increase, particularly
overtime costs, timely completion of projects would be jeopardized.
An alternative work schedule works best where employees require little contact with other
employees, where set-up/tear-down time or shift changeovers are necessary (e.g., hospitals or
manufacturing) or where work functions are not disrupted by staff reduction. In developing a
alternative work schedule schedule the agency or company must ensure the accomplishment of
the agency’s mission, and addresses employees’ needs.
If a company is hesitant to try a Compressed Work Schedule, they should consider instituting
a pilot program with a small group of employees. If close monitoring shows improved employee
and manager satisfaction or other benefits, the program can be expanded to other employees.
If the head of an agency or company finds that a particular compressed work schedule has
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had an “adverse agency impact,” they have the right to promptly determine not to continue the
schedule. Adverse agency impact are those such as; a reduction of an agency’s productivity, a
diminished level of services furnished to the public, disruption in carrying out the departments
functions or interferes with the effective accomplishment of a business, or has an increase in the
cost of agency operations.
To briefly discuss the global effects of establishing a non-traditional work schedules and the concern for the health and welfare of Americas workers was the basis for the establishment of The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. Alternative work schedules are a direct result of that concern which has been fueled by increased employer responsibility. Fair labor standards are not new concepts to global interests, however multinational organizations that derive profits from goods and materials produced in foreign countries are determined to prevent their establishment.
Third world countries offer no protections and allow adults and children to work under conditions that would be unacceptable by any standard. Multinational organizations scour the globe in search of places where working people have low wages and no rights (Gottlieb 1997). says that today the number-one target of labor leaders is global capitalism, and they have begun an effort to counter the power of multinational corporations.
Social pressures are becoming an important part of the fight, as the consumer becomes aware of how the price of goods produced in a far off place can directly effect the wage he or she receives at home. The effect of this knowledge is the wielding of a powerful tool called social pressure. Americans are looking at the products they buy and seeing massive numbers of industrial occupations close shop and move abroad while service occupations at home have
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increased from 42% to 65% American workers also understand this is directly relevant to the number of industrial jobs being developed in third world countries.
As we develop stronger public interest and support for organizations that offer top wages and benefits to their employees abroad, we will close the gap in a widening shift towards service occupations, lower wages and limited production.
To briefly identifying the global effects of changes in The Fair Labor Standards Act, which established the maximum workweek as 40 hours in 1940, unions are making headway at negotiating 37 and 35 hour work weeks, at home, while developing a stronger presence for the acceptance of global labor standards. The market place has created new job lexicons that start with ?flex-time,? ?temp services,? job-sharing? and telecommuting? (Vawter 1997). Employers have benefited from the 40-hour workweek by using part time employees to fill shifts saving the cost of benefits.
Organizations that provide direct service wield a profound affect on everyone who uses their service while others have little adverse effect because they took the time to develop a strategy for compassionate implementation.
By all accounts, the workforce of tomorrow will be older, more culturally and ethnically
diverse, and will consist of more female workers than ever. This diversity will require the
employers to find new and innovative approaches toward managing human resources and
delivering services. To succeed, employers must successfully compete for skilled workers; and it
must be able retain them by providing challenging job opportunities and the flexibility to
accommodate family responsibilities and other activities outside work. Flexible and compressed
work schedules that are carefully planned and implemented can help make employers more
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successful in its recruitment efforts, and more competitive and efficient in the timely delivery of
quality services. Therefore, collective bargaining should be undertaken with the goal of
establishing flexible and compressed work schedules that support work and family programs,
encourage the participation of employees and management, and also set up administrative
controls necessary for the efficient operation of the agency and the success of the established
Cyriax G.R. (1980). Negotiating a shorter working week. Hampshire, UK: Ashgate
Levitan, S. (1977).Shorter hours, shorter weeks: spreading the work to reduce
unemployment, policy studies in employment & welfare series #30. Baltimore, MD: John
Hopkins University Press.
Maklan D.M. (1977). Four-Day work week: Blue collar adjustment to a
nonconventional arrangement of work & leisure , special studies. Westport, CT:
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