Alternative Work Schedules Task Force


August 7, 2001

Charge from Tammy Dearie

Head, Social Sciences & Humanities Library

June 1, 2001

Explore the option of alternative work schedules as a means of employee retention and produce a draft report outlining findings and recommendations for department review. In doing so, consider equity as it relates to the various unions that represent many of the library employees, employees who already work alternate work schedules, employees in small units, and employees responsible for staffing public service desks. Recommendations should also be in alignment with the department mission of providing the best public service available to our patrons.

Members: Paul Harris (chair), Laura Chipps, Sam Dunlap, Laura Galván-Estrada, Nancy Relaford, Laurie Titus, and Lydia Ybarra. Consultant: Maria Din

Background and Campus Viewpoint

For more than ten years, there has been an interest in alternative work schedules from SSHL staff for various reasons. Although some library staff already work an alternative work schedule , there has not been a department-wide policy which would be available to all. Other departments in the UCSD Libraries have been able to offer alternative work schedules for all of their staff. None of those units, however, has a public service component, nor do they have established written procedural guidelines.

As part of an effort to find ways to boost staff morale and improve retention, SSHL decided to explore the issue of alternative work schedules as a possible benefit. Most recently, the Public Services Team discussed this issue. Shortly thereafter, a call went out to all staff in SSHL for volunteers representing various viewpoints and staff classifications. This task force consists of many of those volunteers.

We have looked at policies from other institutions and have been in consultation with Maria Din, Library Human Resources and Jonnie Craig-Winston, campus Human Resources. The campus strongly encourages alternative work schedules and there are many successful instances of people already working those alternative work schedules, throughout campus as well as in the Library. The campus is also very open and supportive of telecommuting, if that is a viable option for a given situation. The main components of a successful alternative work arrangement program are guidelines, assessment, and flexibility.

UCSD's Staff Resources offers the following as possible benefits of alternative work arrangements:


This document discusses the pros and cons of such a program, the options which could be available, results of an internal survey, and our proposal in general.

Library Survey

The Task Force conducted an informal survey by email in July 2001 to assess the level of interest among SSHL staff and predict how many individuals were likely to request alternate work schedules if given the option. The survey was sent via email to the SSHL mailing list (consisting of 59 names) and responses were accepted by email or on paper, with the option of remaining anonymous by submitting a paper copy. Thirty-seven responses were received. Responses showed a clear positive interest in alternate work schedules, with 35 of 37 respondents saying they were somewhat interested or very interested in the option of alternate work arrangements. When asked about specific options, 23 said they would be somewhat likely or very likely to request a compressed work week (four 10-hour days); 30 said they would be somewhat likely or very likely to request other variations (a 5/4-9 compressed schedule or four 9-hour days and one 4-hour day per week); and 24 said they would be somewhat likely or very likely to request the option of telecommuting for part of their work schedule. Respondents were free to say they would be "likely" to request multiple options. An interesting finding is that over half of the respondents already work schedules other than the "traditional" Monday-Friday 8am-5pm, mostly because of SSHL departmental needs for public service coverage during all hours that the Library is open. Survey results appear at the end of this document as Appendix 1.



  1. Compressed Work Week

Compressed Work Week schedules allow full-time employees to work a biweekly (2-week) period in less than 10 days, or a one week period in less than 5 days. Examples of Compressed Work Week Schedules include:

  1. 5-4/9 Compressed Schedule
  2. During a biweekly pay period, a full-time employee works eight 9-hour days and one 8-hour day, for a total of 80 hours worked. The day off during this biweekly work period may be any day as approved by the supervisor.

  3. 4-Day Work Week Schedule
A full-time employee works four 10-hour days during a normal work week. The day off during this weekly period may be any day as approved by the supervisor.
  1. Telecommuting
  2. Telecommuting is defined as a work arrangement in which some or all of the work is performed at an off-campus work site such as the employee's home. A formal telecommuting agreement is required by campus policy. Communication between the employee and the employee's work site may be by e-mail, phone, modem, fax, and pager. UCSD Library guidelines appear at the end of this document as Appendix 2.

  3. Flextime

Flextime allows the employee flexibility in arrival, departure and/or lunch times, typically with a designated core-time mid-day during which all staff are present.

Examples of Flextime Schedules at UCSD include 7:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. shifts with half-hour lunch periods, as an alternative to the standard 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. work schedule.

Other issues

Consideration must be given to ensure that library or campus Human Resource personnel are notified as required by campus policy. For information on campus policy see:,1162,441,00.html?coming_from=Content

For staff and union policy considerations, please refer to Appendix 3.


Discussions For and Against Proposal

There are numerous issues surrounding alternative work schedule proposals to consider, especially as they relate to public service staff. The Task Force has brainstormed and sought out input from co-workers in the Social Sciences and Humanities Library to identify these issues. Also, Jonnie Craig-Winston, Director of Policy Development and Quality of Work Life at UCSD Human Resources, and Maria Din, Head of the Library Human Resources Department have attended meetings offering their expertise to the Task Force. Additional literature on the topic of alternative work schedules is included at the end of this document as Appendix 4.

Shaping much of our discussion are the views of the University of California and UCSD. Both entities clearly support the promulgation of alternative work schedules as a means of improving employee morale and retention. This goal is sought with the understanding and recognition that the needs of the department and mission of the University must continue to be met.

Below are the positive, negative, and additional concerns that we were able to identify and discuss regarding alternative work schedules.

Negative arguments:

Positive arguments:

Additional concerns:


Task Force Recommendations and Guidelines

The Alternative Work Schedule Task Force recommends offering employees of the Social Sciences & Humanities Library the opportunity to alter their established work schedules. This recommendation recognizes the guiding principle that the goals and customer service obligations of the library and individual units are the top priority. These obligations supercede an individual staff member's preferences regarding alternative work schedule requests. Each department or unit makes the final decision pertaining to work schedule requests and adjustments.

A six-month trial or pilot program based on the academic quarter should be established for those interested in an alternate work schedule beginning with the Fall quarter, 2001. Any alternate work schedule request that has been granted will be for the duration of the current quarter to aid scheduling at public service desks.

A preliminary evaluation of the alternate work schedule should be conducted by the Head of SSHL at the end of Winter quarter to allow adequate time to observe the program during a full academic quarter. At this time the alternate work schedule program may be fine-tuned or otherwise adjusted to meet unit, department, or personal needs.

Suggested criteria for evaluating the success/failure of the alternate work schedule are:

The employee’s standards of performance and attendance under the alternate work schedule program will still be based on their job description and union, if applicable. The alternate work schedule does not change vacation or sick leave accrual, nor can it be used for accrual of compensatory time or pay. For example, if an employee is granted a compressed work schedule of 4–10 hour workdays per week and is sick one day, they must submit 10 hours of sick leave, not 8, if applicable. Additionally, holidays are still defined as an 8-hour day not 9 or 10. It is suggested that staff revert to 8-hour workdays during holiday weeks or take vacation to compensate for any "lost" time.

It is the employee’s responsibility to be proactive and accountable concerning all timekeeping issues and to ensure open communication with both their co-workers and their supervisor. Employees must be flexible within their individual units during staffing vacancies, vacations and holidays. SSH employees may be asked to revert to their standard work schedule to accommodate the needs of their unit/library during these times as well.

Establish and use consistent application guidelines for alternate work schedule requests (Appendix 5). Competing requests should be resolved within individual units. Staff must understand that not all compressed schedule proposals of Monday-Thursday or Tuesday-Friday may be granted. To ensure equity when granting alternate work schedule requests, it is suggested that duplicate proposals (2 staff wanting the same schedule) rotate on a quarterly basis.

In small units, some staffed by a single person or involving a public service component, cross-training opportunities are a way to ensure coverage. In addition, such opportunities may serve as an incentive for employees to volunteer to learn to staff small units.

Problems or abuse of the alternate work schedule should not be grounds for cessation of the program. Rather, problems should be addressed as individual performance issues by the direct supervisor in cooperation with the SSHL Head and LHR, if needed.


Appendix 1 - Results of Survey conducted July 2001

Appendix 2 - UCSD Library Provisional Telecommuting Guidelines

Appendix 3 - Staff and Union Policy Considerations

Appendix 4 - Resources

Appendix 5 - Sample Request Form for an Alternative Work Schedule