Alternative Work Hours Policy
An alternative work arrangement refers to any work arrangement that differs from the organization’s standard work schedule and location. A well-structured policy helps to provide a clear understanding of the expectations and responsibilities of all parties involved in the alternative work arrangement, and ensure that the same criteria for making decisions on alternative work arrangements are applied to all employees. Furthermore, a policy enables employees considering alternative work arrangements to understand how their request will be evaluated and helps to avoid potential perceptions of inequity that may arise from ad hoc decisions.
When establishing policies and procedures on alternative work arrangements, organizations strive to provide employees with a means to achieve a balance between professional and personal responsibilities in a manner that benefits both the employee and the employer. To respect individual privacy, employees should not be required to provide the specific details of the reason for the request. However, it is important to distinguish between for example, a request for medical reasons, where the employer may be required to provide accommodation, and a reason that is more geared towards an employee’s personal aspirations.
Alternative work arrangements
The key to successful alternative work arrangements is the flexibility to tailor the arrangement to the specific needs of the individual and the organization. There are many types of alternative work arrangements. In considering which alternative work arrangements to offer employees, organizations should consider the arrangement’s practicality, fairness, and flexibility within the environment of the organization. Typical alternative work arrangements include: flexible time, compressed work week, telecommuting, job sharing, and part-time or reduced hours.
Alternative work arrangements and legislative requirements
There are no legislative requirements on employers to offer, or agree to, an alternative work arrangement except where accommodation is being sought for medical reasons. Although, organizations need to ensure the policy does not contravene the employment standards of their province. Additionally, employers may consider instituting alternative work arrangements in order to meet their Obligations to Accommodate, as required by the Human Rights Code in their jurisdiction.
While typically it is the employee who initiates such an arrangement, it is possible for the employer to initiate alternative work arrangements. The employee must be given the opportunity to consider and if desired, refuse the arrangement if an alternative work arrangement is presented by an employer. Arbitrarily instituting an alternative work arrangement could be considered constructive dismissal. Therefore the employer must offer the employee the choice of accepting the new work arrangement or provide notice/severance pay. It is prudent for the employer to seek legal advice when encountering this situation.
Establishing and implementing alternative work arrangements
A formal alternative work arrangement agreement should be completed and signed by both the employer and the employee prior to the new arrangement. The agreement should outline the specific details of the alternative work arrangement as to remove any potential misperception. Alternative work arrangements typically do not impact an employee’s salary, benefits, and career progression. It is a managers’ responsibility to ensure that all parties respect the work arrangement.