Alternative Work Week Schedules for Employees

The concept of the traditional 9-to-5, five-day work week has been deeply entrenched in corporate culture for decades. However, as workplaces evolve and employee needs change, many organizations are considering alternative work week schedules to enhance flexibility and improve employee satisfaction. Before implementing such schedules, it’s essential to understand the legal implications and ensure compliance with applicable employment laws.

What is an Alternative Work Week Schedule?

An alternative work week schedule (AWWS) typically allows employees to work longer hours on fewer days of the week. One popular model is the “4/10” schedule where employees work four 10-hour days each week. Another is the “9/80” schedule, where employees work eight 9-hour days and one 8-hour day over two weeks, effectively giving them every other Friday off.

Legal Considerations for Alternative Work Week Schedules:

  1. Overtime Rules: In the U.S., the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to pay non-exempt employees overtime for hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek. States might have more restrictive rules. Before implementing an AWWS, ensure that the schedule does not inadvertently lead to unintentional overtime, or be prepared to compensate accordingly.
  2. Collective Bargaining Agreements: For organizations with unionized employees, it’s critical to check collective bargaining agreements. These agreements might contain specific provisions about work hours, and any changes could require negotiations with the union.
  3. Health and Safety: Extended workdays might raise concerns about fatigue and employee well-being, particularly in physically demanding jobs. Employers should be aware of Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) guidelines and any state-specific health and safety regulations.
  4. Accommodations and Discrimination: Ensure that any AWWS policy does not inadvertently discriminate against certain groups of employees. Also, be ready to accommodate workers with disabilities or religious observances as mandated by laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
  5. State-Specific Laws: Some states, like California, have specific provisions related to alternative work week schedules. Before implementing, consult state labor laws to ensure compliance.
  6. Record Keeping: The FLSA requires employers to keep specific records for employees. If switching to an AWWS, ensure that your record-keeping processes adapt to capture the new hours accurately.

Benefits and Challenges:


  • Improved employee satisfaction and morale
  • Reduced commuting times for employees
  • Potential for cost savings on utilities and overhead for businesses


  • Longer workdays can be strenuous and impact work-life balance
  • Coordinating with clients or other businesses operating on traditional schedules
  • Managing business needs on days when a significant portion of the workforce is off

Tips for Implementing an AWWS:

  1. Engage Employees: Before implementing, gather feedback from employees to understand their preferences and concerns.
  2. Pilot Program: Test the new schedule with a small group before rolling it out company-wide.
  3. Regularly Review: Periodically assess the AWWS to ensure it meets business and employee needs.


Alternative work week schedules can be a win-win for employers and employees, offering flexibility and potential cost savings. However, it’s essential to navigate the legal landscape carefully. Employers considering such a transition should engage legal counsel to ensure full compliance with federal and state laws. Contact The Walsh Law Firm for more information.