With so many people having been relegated to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic, many employers are now wrestling with how to proceed as it starts to wane. Many companies are considering implementing hybrid, flextime work schedules after seeing success with remote work.
Flextime is the use of flexible schedules in which employees spend a portion of their workday on the worksite, and the rest from home or another location. For example, a flextime schedule might require an employee to work on-site from 8 am to 2 pm, and complete the rest of the workday from another location.
Unfortunately, there is little legal guidance on the use of flextime schedules. Even the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, which governs minimum wage and overtime pay for most employees, does not address flexible work schedules.
Alternative work arrangements are a matter of agreement between the employer and the employee.
If you decide that you want to extend flextime to one or more of your employees, you should start by drafting an official company policy on exactly how it works. It’s always good to get it down on paper.
Take your time to make sure you have all angles covered, including ensuring that you don’t run afoul of wage and hour laws in the process.
Among other considerations, you should address the following three issues when crafting your flextime policy:
- Which employees are eligible for flextime (management, sales or others);
- What hours employees are required to work on-site; and
- Whether prior approval is required from management or human resources.
Once you’ve written out your policy, it may be a good idea to pass it by your legal counsel to ensure you comply with all relevant wage and hour laws. When approved, include the new flextime policy in your company’s employee handbook, so that it is received by all employees who are or may become eligible for the alternative work schedule.
Benefits of flexible hours
Through the availability of smartphones and wireless internet, the amount of work employees can complete off-site has grown significantly. Utilizing available technology for this purpose can increase productivity, and even expand the geographic area in which a business operates.
Employees working remotely can also better attend to family and personal matters, improving their work-life balance and in some cases reducing the need for a leave of absence. They also don’t have to waste time commuting, which for some can be more than two hours or more on the road every day.
Creating a virtual workplace that allows a company to offer a flextime schedule can result in a number of significant benefits, including:
- Saving money on work space;
- Retaining valuable employees;
- Bringing on outside project teams;
- Expanding visibility; and
- Increasing efficiency and productivity.