Flexible Work Options

Worker controlled workplace flexibility helps employees meet their family caregiving responsibilities with less worry. Unions and employers alike are recognizing the benefits of flexible work options.  Unions have negotiated contract provisions that allow employees to flex their schedules, work week, and make other work arrangements as outlined below.

  • Advance Notice of Overtime – provisions to ensure that employees receive advance notice if they are required to work overtime.
  • Break Arrangements – provisions to allow flexibility with regard to break times. (NOTE: State laws mandating breaks after a certain number of hours may govern this subject.)
  • Exemption from Overtime – provisions that allow employees with caregiving responsibilities the choice to refuse overtime without being penalized.
  • Flexible Hours – these provisions include a variety of options such as flexible start and stop times and flexible meal breaks.
  • Flexible Week – these options include flexibility on days of the week worked as well as working longer hours and fewer days per week.
  • General Statements on Flexibility – general statements may layout a general principle agreed to in bargaining such as the intention to provide a flexible work environment. Such statements can also provide guidance to managers in dealing with individual requests and influence the arbitration process.
  • Job Sharing – provisions clarifying work hours, benefits and other details in situations where two workers share one full-time job, each working part-time.
  • Limits on Mandatory Overtime contract language limiting an employer’s ability to assign overtime including the number of overtime hours assigned.
  • Non-Traditional Shifts – provisions allowing employees to create shift arrangements different from traditional work shifts. For instance, an employee may work until 3 p.m., pick up her children from school, and work an additional two hours after the children are asleep to complete her daily workload.
  • Overtime Eligibility – provisions specifying who is eligible for overtime and in what order overtime will be offered or assigned.
  • Part-Time Return to Work – contract language guaranteeing an employee the right to return to work on a part-time basis after a leave for a period of time mutually agreed upon by the employer and employee (e.g. an employee returns to a three-day weekly work schedule after a parental leave and resumes full-time work after six months).
  • Part-Time with Benefits – eligibility for benefits is an important consideration for part-time workers. Some contracts provide benefits (or partial benefits) for part-time workers.
  • Rotating Shift – some workplaces such as factories, public safety agencies and hospitals assign varying shifts for their workers which can be very hard on workers’ health and family caregiving responsibilities. Some contracts include special protections or forms of compensation for workers with rotating shifts. However, some workers prefer rotating shifts because it ensures that they don’t always get stuck with a particular shift such as nights.
  • Shift Pay Relationship – contract provisions providing higher rates of pay for certain work shifts.
  • Shift Swap – provisions allowing employees to switch shifts with each other, usually on a one-time basis.
  • Shorter Week – these contract provisions can result in several different outcomes such as a shorter total workweek with no cut in pay; or a shorter workweek with a proportional cut in pay; or a shorter workweek in terms of the number of days worked, but longer hours worked each day.
  • Telecommuting – contracts allowing employees to work from home or a location that is not the office (“telecommute”).
  • Temporary Flextime provisions allowing workers to elect flexible hours on a temporary basis. This can be useful during gaps in child care or when elderly dependents need care, etc.
  • Time Off for Holidays – contract language providing employees compensatory time off for working on holidays.
  • Time Off for Overtime – contract language providing employees compensatory time off for working overtime. (NOTE: state wage and hour law may restrict these options.)
  • Voluntary Reduced Time – provisions giving employees the choice to work for a reduced number of hours/days for reduced pay.
  • Voluntary Split Shifts – provisions giving employees the choice to work a split shift (a shift divided into two separate periods of work) such as a morning shift and an evening shift.


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