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AN OVERVIEW A system of flexible working hours gives employees some choice over the actual times they work their contracted hours. Such a system can be a good way of recruiting and retaining staff - since it provides an opportunity for employees to work hours consistent with their other commitments (e.g. child care). Most flexible working hours schemes have a period during the day when employees must be present. This is known as "core time". A typical core time would be 10 00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. Other than the core time, employees may choose when they start and finish work within flexible bands at the beginning and end of each day. These bands are typically 08:0010:00 and 16:0018:000. However, there is wide scope for variation depending on the core time, the hours the work place is open and the nature of the business. Some schemes also have a flexible band during the middle of the day so that employees have some choice over the time they take their lunch break. Contracted hours (the total hours an employee must work according to their employment contract) are achieved by employees working the core time plus hours of their choice during the flexible bands over an agreed period. This period is known as the accounting period and is typically four weeks long. Some schemes allow for an excess or deficit (within set limits) to be carried over to the next accounting period. Hours are credited for absences such as sickness or holidays.

Flextime (or flextime, flexi-time, originally derived from the German word Glitziest which literally means "sliding time") is a variable work schedule. In contrast to traditional work arrangements requiring employees to work a standard 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. day. Its invention is usually credited to William Henning. Under flextime, there is typically a core period (of approximately 50% of total working time/working day) of the day, when employees are expected to be at work (for example, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.), while the rest of the working day is "flextime", in which employees can choose when they work, subject to achieving total daily, weekly or monthly hours in the region of what the employer expects, and subject to the necessary work being done. A flextime policy allows staff to determine when they will work, while a flexplace policy allows staff to determine where they will work.


The introduction of a flexible working hours scheme requires care and needs to be carefully planned by all those likely to be affected. Experience suggests that a joint "working party" comprising representatives of management and employees is usually the best approach and any recognised trade union should be fully involved. The working party should consider: Whether the scheme is to be voluntary or compulsory What type of recording system should be used (eg manual, clocking or computerised) How flexibility should be built into the bands How sickness, absence and late attendance should be treated Arrangements for managing and monitoring the scheme (e.g. monitoring the effect on production or customer service levels) When the details have been agreed there should be a trial period of, perhaps, three months to help identify and eliminate any problems.

Considering proposing a flexible work arrangement to employer

When you make your proposal to management, you'll want to cover several points, most of which will address benefits, as well as barriers, for the company and how you'll handle them. For example, how will you ensure that your new schedule won't be disruptive to workflow? What sort of additional support or equipment might you need to make your new arrangement work? How will the arrangement make you more valuable to the company than you are now? But, before you begin answering these questions, you first need to understand the type of work arrangement options that are available and which one will best suit your needs, as well as that of your employer.

Get to know work arrangement options:

When employers talk about flexible work arrangements, they usually mean one of the following:

Flextime Job sharing Job splitting (work redesign) Telecommuting Voluntary reduced workload (part-time work) Daily or informal flexibility

Here's what these terms mean to most companies. Flextime allows employees to work with their managers to set starting and quitting times. Some workers arrive at work late and leave late; others arrive early and leave early. Manager and employee agree on the schedule, which revolves around a set of core hours when the majority of employees are at work.

The result: For the company, flextime can often mean better coverage, and it's a no-cost way to improve employee morale. Flextime can also resolve scheduling conflicts and sharply reduce lateness and absenteeism. Job sharing Divides the responsibilities of a full-time position between two part-time people. For this arrangement to work, the two employees must have close communication and share a spirit of cooperation. Each job sharer often works a three-day week, spending a day together during midweek to catch up and make the transition seamless. The result: Job sharing gives managers an opportunity to keep people who would otherwise not be able to work. Having "two for the price of one" can mean more productivity and better coverage, as job sharers can often cover for each other during vacations or personal emergencies. The arrangement can also help the company recruit and retain skilled workers. Job splitting Or work redesign, redesigns the tasks in a job so that it fits staff and business needs. For instance, tasks that can be done in isolation are assigned to a telecommuter, and duplicate tasks are eliminated. One full-time job may become appropriate for two part timers. Two employees may split a job, but they may work independently of each other. The result: By looking at the tasks of a job in a new way, employees can better fit their skills to the tasks to be performed. Job splitting may eliminate duplicate work, permit better use of employees' skills, and enable more flexibility and more effective work distribution. It also attracts and retains high-quality employees by making employees' lives more livable while the company achieves its business goals. Telecommuting Allows eligible employees to perform some of their work at home or at an alternative work location. Telecommuting may be done part-time or fulltime, but it is usually done part-time.

The result: telecommuting enables a company to hire those with disabilities who otherwise could not work, widens the geographic pool of workers, and allows employees to better handle their personal commitments. It often reduces occupancy and real estate expenses, and it nearly always improves productivity as a result of fewer distractions. Grateful employees are generally more committed that is, more likely to go the extra mile. Voluntary reduced workload Or part-time work, allows employees to cut back both workload and hours either temporarily or regularly. This option allows new mothers to return to work gradually and retirees to phase out gradually. It can enable employees to complete their education or handle temporary emergencies. The result: Having the part-time option is proven to attract and retain talented employees who want to work a reduced schedule, and it widens the pool of potential employees. At least one study has shown part-time workers to be nearly as productive as their full-time colleagues. Daily or informal flexibility means generally having control over your schedule. Managers focus on results or output rather than the hours an employee works. Employee, manager, and colleagues work together to ensure coverage and decide how the work will be completed, with customers and performance always coming first. The result: At least one study has found that daily flexibility has the most potential for increasing employee satisfaction and retention. Daily flexibility creates a more considerate and respectful atmosphere, helps each employee work to full potential, retains high-quality employees, and enhances employee satisfaction.


Employees have greater freedom Can make traveling easier (e.g. avoiding commuting during the normal rush-hour) Improved morale and reducing absence and lateness Reduction in overtime and less lost time since long lunch breaks or late arrivals are not recorded as time worked


Costs involved in administering the scheme If the premises are open longer, there may be increased costs for lighting and heating Employees will not be in work at certain times and therefore it may not be suitable for organizations where continuous cover is necessary.

1. Flexible work options are available to assist employees in balancing their responsibilities to work, family, education, and other personal needs. IBM gives you the flexibility to manage your work hours, so you can meet the needs of your personal life. Employees, in consultation with their Manager may agree on a special working hour schedule provided the same does not hinder the departments working.

2. IBM is well known in the industry for its focus on work life balance for
employees. Not surprisingly for the nineteenth year in succession IBM has featured in the 'best companies' list of various magazines, including Working Mother.

3. HUL also offers women employees the option of working from a remote
location if their roles permit. P&G, which started flexi work timings eight years ago, introduced further interventions like work from home as an enabler for better performance of its employees.

In this time of two-income households, flexible work hours make sense for responsible employees. Flexible work hours breed trust on the part of both employee and employer, and a sense of gratitude on the part of the employee. A flexible schedule may work for an employee under the following conditions:

If the employee has a job that doesn't require her presence at all times during normal working hours, or if someone else can easily fill-in for her during the time she is away, If the job responsibilities are more measured by results rather than by hours on the clock, If the employee can work longer hours to make up for days off.

As is the case with most good employee programs, there are benefits to the employer as well as the employee. These include:

Happier and more loyal employees, Positive word of mouth about the company. With appropriate scheduling, longer periods of overall coverage (without overtime) which result from employees working longer hours during working days in exchange for more days off.

In a good flexible arrangement, care should be taken to ensure that the expectations of both parties are clear. It may be necessary to have the employee agree in writing to the parameters of the flexible working arrangement. Some of the items to address include:

Identification of particular times/days to be taken off. What happens during work weeks shortened by holidays? Who fills in while the employee is gone?