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Break the 9-5! Explore Alternative Workweek Schedule in 2024

An Alternative Workweek Schedule (AWS) is a work arrangement that deviates from the standard 8-hour workday and 40-hour workweek, allowing employees to work longer shifts over fewer days within a week. This scheduling option is often utilized to provide employees with greater flexibility and to accommodate business needs more efficiently.
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What is an Alternative Work Schedule?

According to SCLG, in California, an alternative work schedule (AWS) offers a unique approach to organizing the workweek differently from the traditional eight-hour day [1]. Employing an AWS means employees will experience longer workdays but fewer days per week.

This modification in daily hours impacts the calculation of daily overtime but does not change the total weekly hours or overall wages. Under California labor laws, as stipulated by the Industrial Welfare Commission, AWS allows employees to work up to 10 hours per day without requiring overtime payment for the extended hours.

Importantly, AWS does not permit working more than 40 hours per week, ensuring flexibility for both employers and employees. Workplaces may implement varying schedules for different groups, with an AWS applying specifically to the group that opts for it through a formal approval process.

Alternative work schedules are allowed under California’s state employment law. Outside of the state of California, these laws have no effect, though some states may have their own laws allowing for an AWS – Stated SCLG.

What’s the Difference Between a Flexible Work Schedule and an Alternative Work Schedule?

According to FlexJobs, flexible schedules empower employees to largely dictate their own working hours, offering the freedom to select their work times based on personal preference and necessity. In some cases, these schedules are entirely unrestricted, allowing employees to work at their convenience [2].

However, flexible schedules can also come with certain conditions that require employer approval, though the employee retains significant control over their hours.

For example, an employer might specify that a part-time employee needs to complete their hours across three days each week, working in four-hour blocks anytime between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. While the employer sets some boundaries regarding the timeframe, the employee has the flexibility to choose which specific days and hours to work within those parameters.

Flexible schedules provide the ultimate in career flexibility and are one of the most popular and favored schedule types for all kinds of job seekers. In fact, 72% of job seekers say flexible work options are the most important thing they consider when evaluating a job!

Alternative Work Schedule Definitions

  • Flexible Schedule – Encompasses various types of work arrangements, all featuring core hours and flexible time bands.
  • Core Hours – Central to flexible work schedules and denotes the specific hours within a workday when an employee is required to be at work, on approved leave, or utilizing credit hours.
  • Flexible Time Bands – designated periods around the core hours during a workday, workweek, or pay period within an employee’s duty schedule. During these bands, employees have the option to adjust their arrival and departure times or to work credit hours.
  • Credit Hours – Applicable solely in flexible work schedules, credit hours represent additional hours worked at an employee’s discretion (with supervisory approval) within flexible time bands. These are non-overtime hours that an employee opts to work on one day to earn equivalent time off on another.
  • Basic Work Requirement – Set the number of non-overtime hours that an employee is obligated to work or justify through leave in order to qualify for overtime.

Compressed Work Schedule – A fixed work schedule (no flexible time bands) in which an employee can complete the biweekly work requirement in less than 10 working days.

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