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Flextime

Flexible Work Arrangement Proposal Form
What is Flextime?
Flextime Options Available at Columbia University

Considering Flextime as a Work Option

Considering the Staff Member
Special Considerations for Non-Exempt Staff

Questions or Concerns

 

Flexible Work Arrangement Proposal Form

FWA Proposal Form (Word)

 

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What is Flextime?

Flextime is a scheduling arrangement that permits variations in an employee’s starting and departure times, but does not change the total number of hours worked in a week. Flextime may be applied to full-time and part-time positions.

Staff may request a flextime arrangement, or managers may restructure work schedules to create flextime opportunities.  As with all formal flexible work arrangements (FWAs), flextime schedules must be approved in advance by the department. 

The University advises staff that not all tasks are appropriate for flextime.  Departments will determine whether to allow a staff member to participate in flextime on a case by case basis in accordance with the needs, requirements, and constraints of both the department and the staff member. 

At times, department operational needs may require that staff be present or accessible during a certain core period of hours each work day. Core time may also include a requirement for staff to be present during a particular day of the week. Core time may be necessary in any flextime arrangement.

FWAs may be revoked if business conditions change or job performance is negatively affected. Any FWAs made as a condition of employment cannot be revoked without approval of the department head and Human Resources.

Any formal FWA must be put in writing to ensure that management and staff have a mutual understanding of the specifics.  Staff may only modify the schedule with management’s prior consent.

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Flextime Options Available at Columbia University

  • Fixed starting and departure times, which the staff member and manager select periodically. Agreed-upon starting and departure times that continue for a specified period of time, with the same number of hours worked each day.
  • Starting and departure times that can vary daily. With a personalized work schedule, a staff member may arrive at work and leave at a different time each day, provided that the same number of hours are worked each day.
  • Variations in the length of the workday (e.g. a seven-hour day followed by a ten-hour day).  This allows staff to work different hours each day, as long as the required number of hours in a standard work week is met.
  • Compressed work schedules: Compressed work schedules provide employees with the opportunity to complete a full-time work week in fewer than five days (i.e. Four 8.75 hour days vs. Five 7 hour days).  Compressed work schedules are helpful to staff facing the pressure of work and personal demands; this schedule also benefits the environment by reducing commuting time and costs. Compressed work schedules permit staff to meet external demands, such as attending school, volunteering, or caring for family, without reducing their work load.
  • Customized work schedules: Unique business or personal situations may require managers to work individually with employees to establish a special schedule for a specific time period.  For example, a manager may customize the start or stop time for an employee to match public transportation time tables.
  • Part-time work:  Many employees see part-time employment as a way to balance work and family demands.  The University offers regular part-time employment for this purpose.

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Considering Flextime as a Work Option

Departments must consider the following questions to determine if flextime is a viable work option:

  • How will flextime affect the unit’s other work functions?
  • Can the manager measure results and productivity effectively without frequent and regular supervision?
  • Can the department provide accountability and clear performance expectations?
  • Can the department maintain its present level of customer service without undue hardship on customers, where “customers” may be internal or external to the department?
  • Can the department establish “core hours” for managing peak periods, coordinating work among staff, scheduling meetings, office events, etc.?
  • Can the department apply technology (computers, FAX, voice mail, etc.) to help facilitate successful outcomes?
  • How will the manager communicate assignments to the staff member?
  • How will this flextime arrangement affect cross-training initiatives, team-based approaches and other such strategies?

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Considering the Staff Member

Departments should also consider the staff attributes when evaluating flextime as an option.  Certain attributes will help ensure a successful flextime arrangement. To be approved for flextime, the staff member should have excellent time management skills and a demonstrated history of satisfactory, independent work performance.

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Special Considerations for Non-Exempt Staff

Consistent with the Fair Labor Standards Act, non-exempt staff receive time and a half for working more than 40 hours in a week. Therefore, the University prohibits FWAs that alter a non-exempt schedule such that overtime occurs. Although it is permissible, with the supervisor's approval, for a non-exempt staff to alter when the 40 hours are worked during the work week, staff may not "bank" overtime hours worked in one work week for use as time off in a future work week. To the extent that overtime is incurred, it must be approved by the supervisor beforehand and paid accordingly.

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Questions or Concerns

If a staff member has a dispute regarding a decision under this policy, he or she should bring the matter as soon as possible to the attention of the next level of management, and ultimately, if necessary, to the department head. Management and the staff member should pursue all efforts, including consultation with Human Resources, with a focus on resolving concerns. Final approval and arrangements for situations covered by this policy are at the discretion of the department.

Management, along with CUHR, is responsible for fair and equitable application of all FWAs.  The Office of Work/Life and CUHR are jointly responsible for administering guidelines, training and consultation to faculty, staff and others regarding FWAs.

Academic departments should check with their respective Dean’s Office to ensure that they are following their school’s processes for granting FWAs. 

The University strongly encourages departments to consult with their HR Client Manager during decision-making, and before responding to the staff member’s request for FWAs – especially when a department is considering denying a FWA request.

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