An agency may implement for its employees alternative work schedules instead of traditional fixed work schedules of eight hours per day, 40 hours per week. Within rules established by the agency (in some cases under terms of negotiated contracts), these schedules can enable employees to have work schedules that help the employee balance work and family responsibilities. There are two categories: flexible work schedules and compressed work schedules.

Compressed schedules enable full-time employees to complete the basic 80-hour biweekly work requirement in less than 10 work days. Compressed work schedules are always fixed schedules. Common examples are a four-day week of 10 hours per day and the “5/4 9” schedule under which employees work eight nine-hour days and one eight hour day biweekly with one day off, typically the second Friday in the pay period. Other schedules, such as the three-day week in which the employee works 13 hours and 20 minutes per day, are less common and typically are used in certain specialty occupations and at facilities with special scheduling needs.

Flexible work schedules fall into several different categories, including changeable schedules, that may be used by an agency to meet the needs of its work flow while accommodating employee needs. These include options called flexitour, gliding schedule, variable day schedule, variable week schedule and maxiflex. Typically they involve a core set of working hours set by the agency with other hours scheduled to meet needs of both the agency and the employee.

Another difference between flexible and compressed work schedules is that an employee on a flexible work schedule may be credited with a maximum of eight hours towards the employee’s basic work requirement on a holiday or Sunday, but the number of holiday or Sunday hours for an employee on a compressed work schedule is the number of hours regularly scheduled for the employee to work on that day if not for the holiday.