It's no secret that offering flextime and job-sharing arrangements can help your company retain valued employees and develop a more committed work force. But alternative schedules work best when the expectations of both employer and employee are spelled out in writing before they begin.
What to include in such an agreement with employees?
Compensation and benefits. If you are planning to offer job sharing for the first time, consider how employees will be compensated. In most job-sharing arrangements, pay and benefits are prorated based on each person's work hours. Decide how existing policies regarding part-time employment will apply to the positions being created. Also, carefully document how much vacation, paid holidays and sick time each person is allotted.
State and federal anti-discrimination laws apply to employees regardless of their number of hours worked. Thus, it's important to make sure employees working flexible schedules aren't disadvantaged in compensation, advancement, discharge, training and other terms of employment.
Timekeeping. Keep in mind that an employee's status as exempt from overtime or minimum wage considerations under the Fair Labor Standards Act () may change as a result of job sharing, if he or she is paid less than the required weekly minimums.
Don't think job sharing will help you avoid FLSA obligations. Careful recordkeeping is essential. Violations of the FLSA's wage and hour provisions can result in an audit of two years of payroll records, three years if the employer has acted willfully.
Reasonable accommodations. By providing flextime and job sharing, you'll establish a precedent and may be required to offer similar arrangements for a qualified disabled employee. The U.S. Office of Personnelspecifically lists "adjusting work schedules" as an example of reasonable accommodation.
For example, employees with mobility impairments may find it difficult to use buses and trains during peak periods and need an earlier or later workday. Workers requiring ongoing medical treatment may need flextime to attend scheduled appointments.
Offering flex scheduling to a disabled worker will help you defend a bias lawsuit. In a recent case, an employer offered job sharing to an insurance salesman with multiple impairments, but he declined. The federal court later threw out his disability lawsuit, saying the company's offer of a new schedule proved that it tried to accommodate him. (Katz v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., S.D.N.Y., 1998)
. Give documented performance evaluations for all positions, but it's even more critical for flextime workers and job sharers. For legal reasons, skipping reviews for these workers could give the appearance of discrimination or disparate treatment.
Your agreement should spell out how oftenwill be given. Also, employees sharing jobs should be separately reviewed and fairly evaluated to avoid any favoritism or inadvertent bias in evaluation.
Consequences if the arrangement fails. In your agreement, include a notice period that allows the employer or employee to terminate the job-sharing arrangement. Laying out this "exit strategy" before the arrangement begins will prevent ill feelings and costly lawsuits if the positions are discontinued.
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