Alternative Workweek Schedules

“I’m planning on scheduling my employees for 4 10-hour days, starting next week. If I give them a week’s notice, is that enough time?”

Your HR Survival Tip

Since our normal workweek is five 8-hour days, using a schedule of four 10-hour days is called an Alternative Workweek Schedule (AWS). California has provided detailed guidance on how to implement an Alternative Workweek legally but, unlike other scheduling, an AWS is not entirely up to the employer.

Don’t forget California is the one state with overtime after 8 hours in a day. There is a process involved for an AWS and, if you don’t follow the process, you may be in violation of California wage and hour law regarding overtime pay. Most details are in your industry’s IWC Order (Industrial Welfare Commission), that you should have posted next to your employment law poster.

Timing and hours may differ based on industry, which is why it’s important to review the IWC for the group of employees involved. Using IWC Order No. 4, we are able to have workdays of up to 10 hours without overtime, 10 to 12 hours as overtime, and more than 12 hours at double time. Below are the basics about the IWC #4 process:

  • The company creates a proposal citing the employees (group, unit, or department) affected by the AWS and all the details about it. A basic proposal includes the number of work hours and workdays and other features but it can be more complicated. Remember a longer day may also require more meal and rest breaks.

  • Present the proposal to the affected group at least 14 days prior to their voting on it. This gives them time to talk about the proposal and ask questions.

  • The proposal must be adopted in a secret ballot election with at least a 2/3 approval vote of the affected employees before the new schedule begins. If you don’t get 2/3 to vote in favor of the proposal, you must maintain your regular 8-hour days or, possibly, create a different proposal.

  • If the proposal is approved, you may not implement the new schedule for at least 30 days from the voting date.

  • Within 30 days of the approval, you must notify in writing the state’s Office of Policy, Research and Legislation. This becomes a public document and protects you from later claims of unpaid overtime.

  • The employees may be able to choose to repeal this AWS by another 2/3 vote to stop.

This is not a slam dunk situation… you are basically making a sales pitch and asking employees to give up overtime pay in exchange for three days off each week. The above process is a very simplistic description so please review the requirements or ask someone knowledgeable to set up your AWS for you to ensure it is compliant.

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