OPM has issued guidance to agencies stressing the availability of flexible work schedules as they recall employees back to their regular worksites from telework or leave status as pandemic-related restrictions are lifted, saying such schedules can help “maintain the productivity, health and safety of the workforce.”
Flexible work schedules, or FWS, require an employee to be on the job during certain core hours while the other hours vary according to a schedule set by the employee and agency.
“Agencies may expand the types of FWS that are available to employees as different types of schedules provide different degrees of flexibility,” OPM said. “When combined with telework, FWS can provide agencies with the flexibility to maintain safe social distance between employees in the workplace by reducing the percentage of employees who are in the office at any given time. FWS can also assist employees balance professional duties with caregiving and other responsibilities.”
It continued: “Agencies will need to make decisions on which FWS to adopt or modify based on the impact of COVID-19 on the agency’s mission and employees. Supervisors should communicate the flexibilities and work schedule(s) that are available to their employees, along with their expectations for employees electing to use any new flexibilities.”
Agencies also are to review any applicable union contract and comply with its terms, it said. Further, since bargaining unit employees may participate in flexible work schedules only to the extent provided for in a collective bargaining agreement, agency heads must negotiate the establishment of flexible work schedules.”