Flexible schedules allow employees to customize their hours instead of working a traditional Monday-through-Friday schedule. The Fair Labor Standards Act sets the federal labor law guidelines for flex time. States can also implement their own standards as long as they are at least as strict as the federal guidelines.
Under federal law, hourly employees are entitled to overtime pay for hours worked once they have surpassed forty hours in the week. Overtime hours must be paid at 1.5 times an employee's normal hourly rate. Under this law, an employee earning $10 per hour as a standard hourly rate would be entitled to $15 for each hour of overtime worked. States may impose their own overtime regulations. For example, California requires overtime pay for time worked exceeding eight hours in one day.
Federal labor law does not include a specific provision for weekend and night work. You must include your weekend hours with the time you worked during the rest of the week to calculate overtime. It is not guaranteed that work on night shifts and other nontraditional schedules will be paid an extra shift differential bonus. However, the employer may decide to offer the additional pay as an incentive to encourage employees to volunteer for unpopular schedules.
Some types of workers may be exempt from overtime laws. These are typically professional, executive and administrative employees who have more responsibility and discretion than an entry-level, hourly employee. The main criteria for determining exempt status is whether the employee has authority to make independent decisions affecting the company's bottom line. Hiring, firing and supervising subordinates may also qualify an employee as exempt from overtime pay. Exempt employees are paid a fixed salary with no regard to the number of hours worked in a pay period.
The employer's flex-time plan may not discriminate against employees based on race, sex, sexual orientation or age. Access to flexible schedules must be based on merit, job duties, seniority or another job-related factor. A flex-time policy may be considered discriminatory even if it uses job position as the only eligibility criterion. If the only employees likely to hold a particular position are minorities, an employee who is denied a flexible schedule may be able to file a successful claim for discrimination.