Flexible Schedules

Q

I have noticed in the news a lot of talk about companies going to
compressed work eeks, four-day work weeks, and telecommuting to allow
their employees to save some money on gas. UCAR has this compressed work
week (Flexiplace) listed as an option in its work and family procedures. I
am wondering if Flexiplace will become a better known and more frequently
used option by UCAR employees?

Answered on July 29, 2008

A

UCAR has many policies and benefits to assist our employees. Our Work and
Family Policy 6-12 includes flexible work alternatives such as flextime,
Flexiplace, and a compressed work week. The link to this policy is here.

The transportation website outlines ways employees can save through the use
of UCAR shuttles, the Blue Bike program, and RTD's Eco Pass program. More
information on these programs is available at
www.fin.ucar.edu/sustainability/transportation.html.

However, we must remember that UCAR is a 24/7 operation. UCAR staff can
negotiate alternate work arrangements with their supervisors if their jobs
are compatible with flexible schedules. Supervisors are encouraged to be
flexible, but the bottom line is that we have obligations to our funders
and our customers.

Question continued: I understand the bottom line of
obligations to our funders and customers. I am sure this is the bottom line
for most companies, but it seems that other companies are making sure that
supervisors are offering alternatives and making these alternatives known.
If this question and answer are published, then more employees will know
that these options exist; otherwise I am guessing not too many people will
know about these policies. Additionally, few supervisors are using these
options, and hourly employees apparently don't get the Flexiplace option.

Secondly, the alternative transportation options seem to be mainly for
people who live close to UCAR. Those of us who do not live where we can
ride a bike, or who have kids to drop off, have to drive. We could take the
bus, but if we don't live near easy bus routes, we are looking at an
additional hour plus to get in. A compressed week or telecommuting could be
possible solutions. Operating remotely still allows UCAR's 24/7 operations
to continue; just because on some days some people will not be at UCAR does
not mean that everyone will be gone.

What I am asking (which really was not answered from the original question)
is: will these options become better known and used more frequently by UCAR
employees (hourly ones, too)?

Answer continued: There are a couple of issues here. One
is communication of the policies and another is whether these flexible
options are available to everyone.

There have been articles in Staff Notes regarding UCAR's Work and Family
Policy 6-12, which includes flexible work alternatives such as flextime,
Flexiplace, and compressed work weeks, over the past few years. (For
example, see the September 2005 issue.

We can ask the Communications staff to write another article letting
employees know that these benefits are available. In addition, the policies
are online for employees and supervisors to refer to at any time.

UCAR staff can negotiate alternate work arrangements with their supervisors
if their jobs are compatible with flexible schedules. The key phrase here
is "if their jobs are compatible." Some jobs will require employees to be
here for an eight-hour day, or core business hours, and others will have
more flexibility.

In addition to these issues, UCAR has to comply with the Federal Labor
Standards Act. This act determines whether an employee's position is exempt
or non-exempt. If the job is non-exempt (hourly), then UCAR is required to
pay overtime after 40 hours worked in any given work week. It is difficult
to track exact hours when employees are working from home, which makes
Flexiplace a difficult option for non-exempt (hourly) staff. If the job
allows it, however, employees can work a flextime schedule of 10 hours per
day, four days per week, and take one day off. Individual situations like
this can be discussed with the appropriate HR representative.

--BOB ROESCH,
DIRECTOR OF HUMAN RESOURCES