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Ask Allison: How Does a Company Set An Alternative Work Schedule?

Recently, our attorney, Allison Harvey, was asked by one of our clients about alternative work schedules for businesses and the regulations for creating one. This topic is essential for employers to know about and possibly consider for their organization, especially if they’re in an industry where employees are seeking more flexible schedules.

An alternative work schedule can be created for any readily identifiable work unit, such as a division, department, job classification, shift or separate physical location with the approval by secret ballot election of at least two-thirds of the affected employees in the work unit.

The regularly scheduled alternative workweek proposed by an employer for adoption by employees may be a single work schedule that would become the standard schedule for workers in the work unit, or a menu of work schedule options (the menu of options may also include a regular schedule of eight-hour days), from which each employee in the unit would be entitled to choose. Employees who adopt a menu of work schedule options may, with the employer’s consent, alternate between schedule options on a weekly basis.

The alternative workweek may not require more than 10 hours of work per day or more than 40 hours of work in a workweek. Any overtime between 10 and 12 hours worked above the alternative workweek schedule must be paid at one and one-half times the regular rate of pay, and any overtime beyond 12 hours worked must be paid at twice the regular rate of pay.  Employees working longer than eight hours but not more than 12 hours in a day pursuant to an alternative workweek must be paid an overtime rate of compensation of no less than one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for any work in excess of the regularly scheduled hours established by the alternative workweek agreement and for any work in excess of 40 hours per week.

Before an alternative work schedule is implemented, an organization must meet specific requirements in terms of proposing the schedule to the employee group, explaining the effects of the alternative workweek schedule and conducting a secret vote. The requirements are:

  • The organization must present a proposal, in the form of a written agreement, and designate a regularly scheduled alternative workweek. The proposal must specify the number of regular recurring workdays and work hours; the actual workdays do not need to be specified.

  • The organization may propose a single work schedule that would become the standard schedule for workers in the work unit or a menu of work schedule options from which each employee in the unit could choose. If the organization proposes a menu of work schedule options, the employee may, with the approval of the organization, move from one menu option to another.

  • In order for the alternative work schedule to be valid and recognized by the IWC, the proposed alternative workweek schedule must be adopted in a secret ballot election by at least a two-thirds vote of the affected employees in the work unit. The election must be held before the implementation of the alternative work schedule.

  • Prior to the secret ballot vote, the organization must have held a meeting with the affected employees, a minimum of 14 days prior to the election, to discuss the effects of the proposed alternative work schedule on employees’ wages, hours and benefits. A written disclosure detailing the information above must be included in the meetings. If at least 5% of the affected employees speak a language other than English, the disclosure must be provided in that language in addition to English. Organizations are required to mail the written disclosure to employees who do not attend the meeting(s).

  • The election must be held at the work site of the affected employees during regular working hours, and the organization must pay for all associated costs. Election results must be reported by the organization to the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement within 30 days of finalizing the results. The report must include the final tally of the vote, the size of the unit and the nature of the business of the organization.

  • Employees affected by a change in work hours resulting from the adoption of an alternative workweek schedule may not be required to work those new work hours for at least 30 days after the announcement of the final results of the election.

If you would like more information about an alternative work schedule or would like one of our experienced attorneys to help you create one, please contact our office today at or (530) 217-3520.

This blog and the website is made available by both the lawyer or law firm publisher is for educational purposes and only to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog and/or website you understand that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and the publisher of the blog and/or website. The blog and/or website should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.


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