Flexible Work Arrangement FAQs
What are the different kinds of flexible work arrangements?
At the University, options for flexible work arrangements are comprised of Flextime, Compressed Work Weeks, and Voluntary Reduced Work Time. Please see the Flexible Work Arrangement Guidelines and Procedures for additional information on each option.
2. What are the most common reasons for flexible work arrangements?
A flexible work arrangement may be implemented for a variety of reasons, including benefiting the employee, the department, or both. Some common examples include: saving on fuel costs, matching work schedules to bus, carpooling, PRT or other commuting alternatives, enhanced ability to better balance work and personal responsibilities, enhanced recruitment and retention through “employee-friendly” work practices, extended service hours with minimal to no increase in budget or overtime expense, increased opportunities for cross-training due to shared job duties and coverage adjustments.
3. How does an employee request a flexible work arrangement?
An employee should begin by completing a Flexible Work Arrangement Form. A supervisor or administrator should review all employee requests collectively in order to balance multiple requests with operational needs. Once a flexible work arrangement has been agreed upon by the employee and supervisor, the Dean/Director or his/her designee will review the request and give the final approval or denial based upon the overall needs of the organization. Issues that should be addressed in requesting a flexible work arrangement include:
- The work unit’s benefit from the proposed schedule.
- Establishing a plan for continued fulfillment of the employee’s work expectations including how vital departmental communications with co-workers, customers, and the manager will occur during work hours outside the regular schedule and how customer or organizational needs that arise during the employee’s absence will be handled.
- Assurance that the employee understands that a flexible work arrangement is a privilege and not a right.
4. Who decides if an employee can have a flexible work arrangement?
The supervisor is responsible for setting work assignments and work schedules for employees based on the operational needs and resources of the department. Supervisors are encouraged to be flexible in accommodating the work/life needs of employees, but the decision to set and/or adjust employee work schedules is made by the supervisor, not by the individual employee. The supervisor should use a consistently and equitable applied method of evaluating flexible work arrangement requests. Approvals of flexible work arrangements are in conjunction with the dean/director/designee.
5. What factors should be considered when evaluating a flexible work arrangement?
In reviewing requests for flexible work arrangements, supervisors need to consider the overall needs of the organization, the supervisor, and the employee. The following are a few examples of additional considerations:
- What are the operational and customer needs of the unit?
- What are the personal needs of the employee?
- Are there restrictions on when and where work must be performed?
- Does the employee function as part of a team that would require a matching schedule of all team members or significant face-to-face communication?
- Can management continue to adhere effectively to federal wage-hour regulations regarding work that occurs outside the supervisor’s regular schedule?
- Does the arrangement result in continued or increased work productivity for the employee, the manager, and/or the work unit?
6. What are some disadvantages of a flexible work arrangement?
Some flexible work arrangements may not be the best solution for particular work/life needs or for particular positions (for example, a four-day week for a department which has only one receptionist may not meet operational needs). Along with the advantages presented by flexible work arrangements, there are some disadvantages that also should be considered, including; reduced face-to-face time among co-workers; unit communication may be negatively affected; some employees may feel upset when co-workers are granted flexible work arrangements; conflicting requests by multiple employees may make some requests difficult to accommodate; tracking and direct observation of employee work time becomes more complex; management of time worked for non-exempt employees becomes more difficult; difficulty getting work done when an employee with a compressed schedule is absent, i.e., extended service hours not covered and work not completed.
7. Are flexible work arrangements available to classified staff, faculty equivalent and academic professionals (FE/AP’s), and non-classified staff?
Supervisors of classified, FE/AP’s, and non-classified staff are encouraged to work with their employees to craft flexible work arrangements that work for them and the employee where feasible.
8. Are non-exempt (overtime eligible) and exempt (not overtime eligible) employees to be considered for flexible work arrangements?
Yes, however, managers/supervisors are cautioned that WVU must abide by the requirements of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) when considering or implementing flexible work arrangements for non-exempt employees. Non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime compensation at the rate of one and one-half times the hourly rate for all hours worked in excess of 40 during the work week.
Information for Employees and their Supervisors
9. What if my flexible work arrangement doesn’t work out?
It is recommended that any approved flexible work arrangement begin as a “pilot program” to be reassessed after 30 days to see if the department’s and employee’s needs are being met through the adjustment in work arrangements. Additional adjustments to the arrangement may be needed, or the flexible work arrangement may be terminated. Possible reasons for a supervisor to modify or discontinue a flexible work arrangement include, but are not limited to: business/operational needs or coverage needs change, negative customer feedback occurs, employee’s performance or reliability deteriorates, departmental staff shortages occur, arrangement becomes too disruptive to the work unit, employee is dissatisfied or his/her needs have changed. Efforts should be made between the supervisor and employee to attempt to resolve problems which may arise; however, the final decision is at the supervisor’s discretion.
10. Can a supervisor mandate a flexible work arrangement? What if I like the schedule I have and don’t want to change?
It is in the supervisor’s best interests to consider the employee’s individual needs and preferences; however, supervisors have the prerogative and indeed the obligation to change schedules and work arrangements to accommodate customer-service and operational needs at any time, with reasonable notice to affected employees, per policy and procedure. When possible, employees should be given 15 days notice for a change of schedule, (excluding temporary schedule changes that may arise due to short-term operational needs).
11. Can a request for a flexible work arrangement for the same position but in different units/colleges be handled differently, e.g., can one be approved and the other denied?
Flexible work arrangements are not a right of employees; however, supervisors are encouraged to find ways to make flexible work arrangements work for their employees whenever they can. Supervisors are responsible for the department’s operation; so they have the authority to approve or deny a flexible work arrangement (in conjunction with the dean or director), or to allow them only at certain times and in certain circumstances. And since every job, staff member and situation are different; it cannot be assumed that the same decision is appropriate for two similar jobs.
12. I’m an exempt employee. I routinely work in excess of 37.5 hours per week. How could a flexible work arrangement possibly work for me?
While flexible work arrangements are not for every employee or department, some employees find that they can be more productive during the hours outside of the traditional workday due to fewer interruptions, etc. However, exempt employees are reminded that they are expected to work as needed to meet their work demands and performance standards. This may, at times, alter an exempt employee’s flexible work arrangement either permanently or temporarily.
13. I like the idea of a compressed workweek, but I don’t think I can work that long each day year-round. Can a flexible work arrangement be granted for short periods of time, i.e. only during summers?
Yes. The employee should work with his/her supervisor to determine if this type of arrangement would work for both the employee and the department.
14. I have a flexible work arrangement in my current position, but I have applied for another position where I have heard they are not able to offer flex work arrangements. Can I insist that they honor my current assignment?
No, employees have no “right” to take a flexible schedule or work arrangement with them when they leave one position or department for another. Again, each department’s management has the authority to decide if flexible plans work for them. Employees considering transfers or promotional opportunities should include questions about flexible work arrangements in their interview questions, if this is important to them.
15. If I am approved for a compressed work week and work 9.5 hours each day, do I get overtime each day for hours worked in excess of 7.5?
No. Work time is counted over the entire workweek and not daily. A workweek is the continuous 7 day period from Sunday at 12:01 a.m. through the following Saturday at midnight.
16. If I am approved for a compressed work week, am I guaranteed three consecutive days off?
No, not necessarily. Compressed work week schedules will be based on operational needs, in conjunction with the assessment of multiple employee requests. For example, an employee may be scheduled to work Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and his/her scheduled days off would be Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.
17. As an employee, may I start and stop a flexible work arrangement as I wish? For example, if there is a holiday in an upcoming week, may I stop my compressed schedule for that week so that I don’t have to use extra annual leave to cover the holiday?
The Division of Human Resources recommends that employees utilizing the compressed work week option revert to their regular schedule (typically 7.5 hours per day) for weeks in which there is a holiday (exempt employees are expected to work the number of hours required to fulfill their responsibilities). However, there may be situations in which exceptions are appropriate and therefore, supervisors will have flexibility in managing these situations. Keep in mind that the supervisor as well as the employee have an obligation to ensure that 1.0 FTE/fulltime non-exempt employees work (and/or account for with leave) 37.5 hours per week and that 1.0 FTE/fulltime exempt employees work (and/or account for with leave) a minimum of 37.5 hours per week.
During work weeks where paid holidays occur, the flexible work arrangement may need to be adjusted so that the 7.5 hours of holiday pay does not reduce or increase the total hours paid for the week. For example:
- if a paid holiday occurs on a day in which the employee is scheduled to work 9.5 hours, the employee would take two hours as annual leave or STO/CTO on the paid holiday (7.5 hours paid holiday + 2 hours annual leave or STO/CTO = 9.5 hours) or the employee can revert to a normal schedule and work four, 7.5 hour days and then receive 7.5 hours for the paid holiday totaling 37.5 hours of pay for that week.
- if the paid holiday falls on the employee’s regularly-scheduled day off, the employee would be granted his or her holiday leave entitlement to be used within 6 months of the holiday (per the University Observed Holidays policy). For example, if the employee’s compressed schedule is Monday – Thursday and Friday is the paid holiday, the employee is given 7.5 hours holiday leave entitlement.
- during weeks in which several consecutive days of paid holidays are observed (such as Thanksgiving and Winter Break), it is recommended that the employee revert to a normal schedule for the week or use annual leave to cover the balance of time. For example, if the employee’s compressed schedule is Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday at 9.5 hours each day and Friday for 9 hours, but the paid holidays are Wednesday/Thursday/Friday (22.5 hours), then the employee would either need to use 5.5 hours of annual leave or STO/CTO, or work 7.5 hours each day on Monday and Tuesday. In other words, the employee must account for 15 hours outside of holiday pay within the week.
18. Will the number of breaks for non-exempt employees be increased with a longer work day?
No. Non-exempt employees may be granted a break not to exceed ten minutes during each half-shift of work. Breaks are granted at the discretion of the supervisor and, based upon operational need, an employee may be required to work through a break. Flexible work arrangements that result in a workday extended beyond the traditional 7.5 hours would still have only two, 10 minute break opportunities.
19. Can an employee decide not to take any breaks or meal periods and leave early each day?
Breaks are considered compensable work-release time and may not be used or accrued to make up work time, leave work early, extend lunch times, etc.
Meal periods may be reduced from 60 minutes to 30 minutes in order to allow an employee to flex his or her schedule by 30 minutes when operationally feasible and approved by the supervisor.
Information for Supervisors and Managers
20. I am a supervisor who is concerned about accommodating multiple requests. How do I say yes to one employee and no to the other – or do I just deny both requests?
Since every job, staff member and situation are different, supervisors must make these approval decisions based on operational need, and may not be able to accommodate each employee’s request. Options may exist, such as allowing a compressed work week plan in the summer and during academic breaks or an existing work study student could handle the coverage when needed. Departmental leadership will make the final decision on what is best operationally for the unit, and a flexible work arrangement for each employee may simply not be possible.
21. Is it the supervisor alone who has the authority to grant flexible work arrangement approvals?
The dean’s/director’s approval/signature is required on the request form, as well as the immediate supervisor’s signature. But an employee’s request should start with the immediate supervisor.
22. Are supervisors eligible for flexible work arrangements?
Possibly. Sometimes the oversight of staff or of a work process may make such an arrangement unfeasible; check with your own supervisor to see if a flexible work arrangement will work in your situation.
23. Will a compressed work week change the amount of leave I earn?
No, so long as an employee’s full time equivalency (FTE) does not change, leave accrues as usual during the pay cycle. However, an employee who requests time off for annual leave or sick leave while working a compressed work week will be required to take leave equal to the scheduled hours each day, and not just 7.5 hours.
24. What happens if I take sick or annual leave or STO/CTO off while I work a compressed schedule?
The same is true as in the above example. The employee must take leave for all hours scheduled that day or week.
25. How can I get more information and advice?
The Division of Human Resources – Employee Relations unit can assist management in reviewing requests for flexible work arrangements, in exploring strategies to evaluate employee requests, in designing implementation plans, and in evaluating the effectiveness of flexible work arrangements. Employee Relations is also available to assist employees with their questions/concerns regarding flexible work arrangements. Call the Employee Relations unit in the Division of Human Resources at 302-293-8168, or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.