University of California, Berkeley

Flexible Work Arrangements: Fixed and Variable Work Arrangements

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Fixed Work Arrangements

Fixed work arrangements fall into three categories:

Full-time Fixed

'Full-time' is considered to be forty hours per week. The most common schedule for University employees (which was the standard work schedule in effect for decades before the University began to move toward greater flexibility) is 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, with a one-hour unpaid lunch period from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. Although this schedule was the standard for many years, in recent years many departments have made minor variations on it while still maintaining a fixed, stable schedule. Here are some examples of options available within the 'full-time fixed' arrangement:

  • An Alternate Workweek: fixed hours per day, but days are other than Monday through Friday. Examples: Wednesday through Sunday; or Monday through Saturday with Wednesdays off. Certainly there are many positions on campus where, due to the "customer service" component of the job, weekend work hours would be inadvisable.
  • Three-Day Weekend Every Other Week: another variation, which is a bit more complicated, creates three-day weekends every other week in the following way: In the first week, the employee works four nine-hour days (Monday through Thursday, for example). On the fifth day (Friday, in our example), the employee works eight hours. Provided that the department has established the employee's workweek as beginning and ending in the middle of the eight-hour day, only four hours of that fifth day will have been included in that first workweek. The other four hours will comprise the beginning of the second workweek. Once the employee has worked four nine-hour days in the second workweek, the employee will have completed forty hours and can take the next day off (Friday, in our example). By defining an alternate workweek in this way, the employee can have three-day weekends every other week, and the department can avoid liability for premium overtime for non-exempt employees. (Refer to appropriate personnel manual or contract regarding premium overtime liability for employees who are non-exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act [FLSA]).
  • A Compressed Workweek: forty fixed hours worked in fewer than five days. Example: the 'four-forty' (four ten-hour days); or three twelve hour days.
Part-time Fixed

This schedule has fixed days and hours per week, but totals fewer than forty hours per week. As long as the appointment is for at least half-time and has an 'indefinite' ending date, the position is still considered to be 'career'. As with the full-time fixed arrangements described above, part-time arrangements can also entail alternate or compressed workweeks. Examples: An employee works six hours per day, five days a week (75% time appointment); or the employee works two eight-hour days and one four-hour day (a 50% time appointment).

  • Job Sharing: when two employees share a full-time position, this is called job sharing. Example: Two employees share a job by having one work on Mondays, Tuesdays and until noon on Wednesdays, while the other works from Wednesday noon through Friday.
Partial-Year Career Appointments

Some departments have predictable periods of low activity when they are able to reduce their workforce on a temporary basis. This period of time when an employee does not work is called a furlough. As long as the furlough period is no longer than three months each year, employees retain career status and benefits. Additionally, employees can choose to have paychecks spread out over twelve months if they wish. Example: Employee works full-time during the academic year, but is furloughed during the summer break.

Variable Work Arrangements

Variable work schedules allow for some variation on a daily, weekly, monthly, and/or annual basis. For example:

Flexible Hours

The employee works a certain number of hours each day, but the exact schedule varies somewhat from day to day. Such arrangements (often referred to as 'flextime') typically include a fixed core period each day. Examples: Employee arrives between 8:00 and 8:30 each day, takes a one-hour lunch, and leaves nine hours after arrival (between 5:00 and 5:30); or employee arrives between 7:00 and 9:00, takes an hour for lunch, and leaves nine hours after arrival (between 4:00 and 6:00); or employee arrives between 9:00 and 10:00, takes a half-hour lunch, and leaves eight and one-half hours after arrival (between 5:30 and 6:30).

Flexible Days

The employee works a set number of hours per week, but the days may vary from week to week. Example: Employee works Monday through Friday one week, but Wednesday through Sunday the next.

For more information on this topic, also see How To Choose.