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Back to Order 3612.1 Alternative Work Schedules

Alternative Work Schedule (AWS)
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

  1. What are the management considerations in approving an alternative work schedule (AWS)?
  2. May a supervisor change an employee's work schedule?
  3. Is an employee guaranteed approval for an alternative work schedule?
  4. Who can change an alternative work schedule?
  5. How can I control when employees are arriving and departing?
  6. How is leave charged for an employee on an alternative work schedule?
  7. What is done when an employee travels or attends training?
  8. How much holiday leave does an employee on alternative work schedule receive?
  9. Can part-time employees work alternative work schedules?
  10. An employee requests and is approved for a maxiflex schedule with hours from 9:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday thru Thursday, 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on the first Friday of the pay period, and is off on the second Friday of the pay period. Is the employee entitled to receive night differential for the hours worked from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.?
  11. Can an employee on a 5/4-9 compressed schedule vary their arrival and departure times on a daily basis?
  12. Are managers required to allow employee participation in an agency-approved alternative work schedules?
  13. Can a supervisor limit the number of hours an employee may work in a day or in a week under a flexible work schedule?
  14. What are core days/core hours?
  15. My employee has requested a maxiflex schedule. The employee wants to vary arrival and departure times depending on traffic and their family schedule so there wonít be a set arrival or departure time on any day. The employee produces quality work within established deadlines while keeping me informed and setting their own timelines. Can I approve this request with the exception that the employee must be in the office on Wednesday of each week between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. to attend regularly scheduled staff meetings?
  16. Currently, 50 percent of my staff has an RDO on the second Friday of the pay period. Can I deny a new request for an RDO on that day? Can I require an employee to change their RDO?
  17. Can employees on a compressed or flexible work schedule also be approved to telework?
  18. Have other questions not on this list?


1. What are the management considerations in approving an alternative work schedule (AWS)?

When determining whether to approve a request for an alternative work schedule, the manager/supervisor should take several factors into consideration.  These include the need for office coverage every day, days and/or times when all staff are expected to participate in meetings, and clear communication and expectations between the employee and manager on how the AWS program will be managed in the office.

To reduce the potential for issues relating to schedules and AWS, managers/supervisors must balance employee RDO’s with office needs.  Management must consider all AWS requests, assess the impact on customer service and office productivity, and make a determination based on the professional needs of the office. In addition, supervisors have a management responsibility to deny requests that impact the effective and efficient accomplishment of work in the organization.  The operational and mission accomplishment needs of the office are the first consideration when any work schedule is requested or approved. 

Other controls may include requiring employees to complete an alternative work schedule agreement or implementing guidelines that require all AWS schedules to be reassessed at specific intervals (e.g., every six weeks, once a quarter, etc.,).

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2. May a supervisor change an employee's work schedule?

Yes. Supervisors may modify, suspend or terminate employee participation in AWS to meet organizational needs.

Examples of situations that might compel a supervisor to take such action include: training that lasts several days; special projects requiring a "team" to work on the same schedule; a special assignment for an individual; or travel. If management determines that an employee’s participation in AWS needs to be modified, suspended or terminated, the employee should be given as much advance notice as possible.

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3. Is an employee guaranteed approval for an alternative work schedule?

No. The supervisor must be able to manage workload requirements and provide sufficient office coverage during official business hours before granting an AWS request.

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4. Who can change an alternative work schedule?

Management may deem it necessary to change an employee’s schedule because of a change in work priorities or other business reasons.  Employees may request changes to alternative work schedules based on their needs.

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5. How can I control when employees are arriving and departing?

As the manager, you decide what alternative work schedules will best facilitate accomplishment of your unitís mission. This includes identifying the earliest time an employee may arrive, the maximum length of a workday, and the latest time employees may remain on duty within the guidelines of the Alternative Work Schedule Order.

You may require employees to send an email, or call and leave a voice message if their arrival or departure time will fluctuate dramatically. For example, one office requires employees to contact their supervisor if they will arrive more than 1-hour after the time they normally arrive in the office. These types of requirements should be clearly communicated to employees as part of their responsibilities related to participation in the program.

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6. How is leave charged for an employee on an alternative work schedule?

Employees on AWS must follow the normal leave requesting procedures of the office.  The number of leave hours charged is based on the employee’s normal work schedule.  For example, an employee on 5/4-9 compressed work schedule will be charged 8 or 9 hours of leave for each full day he/she is absent.

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7. What is done when an employee travels or attends training?

Management may determine that an employee will revert to a regular 8-hour daily tour of duty when on travel or attending training.  This is a case by case determination based on length of travel and work schedule while in training or on travel.  For example, an employee will be on travel for 5 days, including what would normally be the employee’s RDO.  As a result, the manager requires the employee to switch to a regular 8-hour daily schedule for that pay period.

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8. How much holiday leave does an employee on alternative work schedule receive?

It depends on the type of work schedule.  Employees on a 5/4-9 compressed work schedule will receive 8 or 9 hours of holiday leave based on the number of hours regularly scheduled for the holiday.

Employees on flexible work schedules (gliding and maxiflex) receive a maximum of 8 hours of holiday leave on a day the office is closed for a holiday.

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9. Can part-time employees work alternative work schedules?

Yes. Part-time employees may be approved to work a flexible work schedule.

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10. An employee requests and is approved for a maxiflex schedule with hours from 9:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday thru Thursday, 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on the first Friday of the pay period, and is off on the second Friday of the pay period. Is the employee entitled to receive night differential for the hours worked from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.?

No.  Because the schedule is at the employee’s request, the employee is not entitled to night differential for hours worked between 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.  Night differential is only granted when an employee is required, based on the business needs of the agency, to work between 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.

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11. Can an employee on a 5/4-9 compressed schedule vary their arrival and departure times on a daily basis?

No.  The 5/4-9 compressed schedule is a fixed schedule.  The employee’s arrival time, departure time, and regular day off are fixed unless management approves a work schedule change before the start of the pay period.

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12. Are managers required to allow employee participation in an agency-approved alternative work schedules?

No.  However, managers are encouraged to be flexible in meeting employee needs, while successfully accomplishing the organization’s mission.  FHWA Order 3610.1 identifies all of the schedules that may be used within FHWA and management must determine which schedules are most appropriate for their organization.

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13. Can a supervisor limit the number of hours an employee may work in a day or in a week under a flexible work schedule?

Yes.  While a maxiflex schedule does not limit the number of hours an employee may work, management retains the right to establish a limit on the maximum number of hours an employee is allowed to work in a single day.  For example, Supervisor A has decided that employees may arrive as late as 10:00 a.m. each day but that no employee may work more than 10 hours on any given day.

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14. What are core days/core hours?

Core days are specific days when all employees of an organizational unit must be on duty (e.g. in the office, on travel, teleworking, etc) or in an approved leave status.  For example, Supervisor A has established the first Wednesday of the pay period as a core day to ensure that all employees attend the biweekly staff meeting.

Core hours are specific hours that employees must be on duty, or in an approved absence status.  For example, Supervisor B has established daily core hours from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  Employees understand they may arrive no later than 10:00 a.m. and may not depart earlier than 2:00 p.m., unless in an approved leave status or on an approved RDO.

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15. My employee has requested a maxiflex schedule. The employee wants to vary arrival and departure times depending on traffic and their family schedule so there wonít be a set arrival or departure time on any day. The employee produces quality work within established deadlines while keeping me informed and setting their own timelines. Can I approve this request with the exception that the employee must be in the office on Wednesday of each week between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. to attend regularly scheduled staff meetings?

Yes. As the supervisor, you have the responsibility of establishing core hours, such as 10 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. or a core day, such as Wednesday. During these core time periods, employees must be working or in an approved leave status. In addition, establishing clear expectations to your employee on communicating schedule changes to ensure timecards are coded accurately and he/she is available for key meetings is very important.

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16. Currently, 50 percent of my staff has an RDO on the second Friday of the pay period. Can I deny a new request for an RDO on that day? Can I require an employee to change their RDO?

Yes.  Operational and mission accomplishment rely on the organization’s ability to provide internal and external customer service.  This may require a specific number of employees to be on duty every work day.  Therefore, you may deny a request for a specific RDO or change an employee’s RDO based on changing office needs.  Supervisors are expected to be open and fair in communicating the criteria for work schedule changes to all employees and to provide as much notice as practical.

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17. Can employees on a compressed or flexible work schedule also be approved to telework?

Yes. An employee on a 5/4-9 schedule, gliding schedule, or maxi-flex schedule may be approved to telework on regular work days.

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18. Have other questions not on this list?

Submit them online at http://staffnet/opt/questions/askquestion.htm and they may become part of this list of Frequently Asked Questions and Answers.

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