Flexible Work Schedules Can Trap You

1378002_16584036You want to be a good employer.  You realize some of your employees need some flexible hours and flexible days because of the demands of young children.

So you adopt a flexible schedule policy for working parents.  You allow employees with young children to arrange with their supervisors for flexible schedules.

You’ve just created a potential swamp of quicksand to get trapped in.

Won’t some other employees want flexible hours to be with their grandchildren? And how about hunting season in the fall? Won’t some employees want flexible hours during this time?

Next, some of your employees with aging parents may ask for flexible hours to better adjust their schedules so they can care for their mothers and fathers. And, of course, employees with older children will want flexible hours now and then to attend important events with their children.

The Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and similar state laws require employers to treat employees equally with any policies they have for disabled employees, pregnant employees, and employees qualifying for FMLA leave.  It’s smart, also, to treat all employees as equally as possible when it comes to a flexible schedule policy.

Two Approaches to Consider: 

  1. Allow supervisors to approve flexible schedules for employees whose work performance meets — and maintains — a defined and better-than-average level of performance.
  2. Allow supervisors to approve flexible schedules for any employee when doing so does not harm the employee’s performance, and when it is in the best interest of the employer to do so.

Note: When you give supervisors the authority to approve flexible schedules, you run the risk a supervisor will make unfair decisions. This can lead to charges of illegal discrimination.  To prevent this, be sure to train your supervisors in how to fairly and impartially allow flex-schedules.

In your flexible schedule policy, consider language like this: “Flexible scheduling may be possible if a mutually workable schedule is approved by your supervisor.  In making a decision, management and your supervisor will consider staffing needs, your performance, and the nature of your job.”


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