FAQs

Direct any general questions about related guidelines or procedures to Natalie Trent, Human Resources Specialist (trentnat@gvsu.edu; (616) 331-2215). If you have questions about specific issues, call the following offices:

  • Requesting a Flexible Work Arrangement:  Contact your immediate supervisor.
  • Procedures Clarification, and Interpretation:  Human Resources Specialist, Human Resources: (616) 331-2215
  • Benefits Related to Flexible Work Arrangements:  Benefits: (616) 331-2220
  • Payroll Issues Related to Flexible Work Arrangements:  Payroll Department: (616) 331-2237

General Questions

National surveys repeatedly show that staff members seek flexibility in the workplace as a key response to competing demands of work and home. A recent study found that the number one work factor correlating with staff member commitment and loyalty was recognition by the institution of the importance of personal and family life and support for these responsibilities.

There are also significant organizational benefits to be derived from these arrangements. FWAs can improve staff morale, increase productivity, improve health and wellness, reduce absenteeism and turnover, enhance student services and improve competitiveness for job candidates.

Typically there is a 3-month trial period before a regular agreement is implemented. The supervisor and staff member must include regular reviews of the arrangement to decide what is working and what needs to be improved or enhanced.

The supervisor, with reasonable notice, can terminate or amend the agreement based on a number of reasons, such as operational changes, staffing changes, leadership changes, performance, etc.

The staff member should discuss this with his or her supervisor at least 30 days prior to the date he or she wishes to resume the previous schedule. The supervisor may or may not be able to approve the request, depending on the needs of the business unit.

No. The grievance procedure does not apply to decisions regarding flexible work arrangement requests.

Yes. Since every job, staff member, and situation are different; it cannot be assumed that the same decision is appropriate for two similar positions. Supervisors know the operations of their department/unit(s) best and are responsible for final decisions on how to get the work accomplished. But keep in mind that supervisors have the authority to say yes or no to a flexible arrangement, or to postpone consideration of FWAs to another time.

The options described in GVSU's guidelines are the most common types of FWAs. Supervisors and staff can modify or combine elements of these or other arrangements to accommodate individual situations or needs. Regardless of the type of FWA, the arrangement should be formalized in writing so the expectations and responsibilities are clearly defined for both the staff member and supervisor.

That will depend on a number of factors, including type of arrangement, the school department needs, the frequency of requests, the success of current arrangements, etc.

FWA's for MGS staff are limited to the collective bargaining agreement. Staff interested in FWA should discuss with their supervisor.

FWAs are typically initiated by a staff member, however, supervisors may also suggest FWAs. The staff member and the supervisor are encouraged to discuss their needs and to work together to develop the best possible arrangements for their situation.

Human Resources (hro@gvsu.edu), for tracking purposes, and Payroll for hourly staff (payroll@gvsu.edu).

Supervising/Managing

There is a strong business case for FWAs. The benefits include:

  • Improved retention and staff commitment: staff may remain with an employer longer and have a higher level of commitment when an organization provides access to more FWAs.
  • Improved productivity: flexible arrangements can provide uninterrupted time for creative, repetitive or highly detailed work; they can also help take advantage of different work styles (early energy vs. late energy); FWAs may also help to reduce tardiness and absences due to personal commitments.
  • Improved service: a flexible approach to working time can potentially be used to extend service delivery, improve customer relations, and deal with time zone differences.
  • Cost savings: reduced staff turnover, training costs and possibly accommodation costs contribute to increased cost savings.
  • Improved recruitment: more flexibility can attract potential staff members when vacancies arise, especially in a situation where applicants can make comparative evaluations of job offers; skilled and experienced people may be attracted back into the work force, and a match can be achieved between skills and current market shortages.
  • As more of the Millennial generation enters the workforce there will likely be an increase in demands for FWAs.

Traditional schedules meet the needs of the majority of staff members. Staff members who do request FWAs most often ask for slight changes in their daily arrival and departure times, changes that pose the least challenge for a staff member's supervisor and co-workers.

Reasons for the requests should not be used as the only factor in making a decision. If the staff members' requests are similar in terms of their ability to continue to meet job requirements, seniority and performance may be factors in determining which request to approve. The supervisor may ask the staff members for input into a solution that would enable the staff members to meet their individual needs as well as the needs of the business unit.

If staff members work at home as an established FWA, then supervisors should set up a structured system for management. The emphasis will focus on the completion of tasks rather than based on time. Performance measures should be agreed and then monitored. Communication is very important for those working at home.

It's a good idea to make sure everyone is consulted when new working arrangements are introduced. It's part of good management practice to ensure staff members are treated fairly and that they are not overloaded with work as the result of a FWA by another staff member. Resentment may arise if no arrangements are made to deal with part of someone's job responsibilities if the person's hours are reduced. Remember, if hours are reduced so is the pay! Where there is a worry that colleagues may find the FWA unfair, supervisors, at the planning stage, should meet with the work group/department to define work parameters and develop a system to manage the work group/department's work schedule. For example, it would be useful to agree to procedures for the following:

  • Methods of briefing staff - e.g. on new tasks, progress, continuing tasks
  • Methods of dealing with forwarding - e.g. calls from the office, urgent correspondence, other correspondence
  • Assessing performance - how and when this will be done
  • Scheduling meetings - how and when will they be scheduled
  • Discussing problems relating to the FWA - how and when these will be dealt with.

All decisions should be focused on organizational needs and objective criteria related to work performance and job demands. A consistent approach to analyzing the situation should be applied. Then, it is important to communicate to each requester the decision and its rationale. Documenting the basis for these decisions is always a good idea in case questions arise later. Human Resources can help you develop objective criteria to use and a strategy for communicating your decision.

Approval of FWAs should always make the best business sense. In other words, the supervisor will need to determine which FWA requests works best for the area and which do not. Decisions should be based on the best interest of students/department/university, not on seniority or the staff members' individual needs.

Yes. For example, if it would be useful for a department to have extended hours during the beginning of a semester or high volume period to accommodate special demands, flextime could be implemented. Some staff members could have the opportunity to work an early schedule (such as 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. or 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.), while others would work a late schedule (such as 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.). At the end of the specified time frame, traditional hours may be resumed. Likewise, some departments may choose to offer compressed work schedules during slower time periods, with longer mid-week hours and early departure on Fridays or late arrivals Monday. Later on, this revision may no longer be appropriate for the demands of the department and traditional work hours could be resumed. It is very important for the supervisor to establish clear expectations on the time frame limits of this arrangement before it begins.

A final FWA must be approved by the direct supervisor of the staff member and the Appointing Officer. Applications for FWA should be submitted to the Human Resources Specialist. 

Benefit/Payroll Issues

As with all salaried staff members, part-time professionals are paid for the job they do rather than the number of hours required to complete the job. They are not eligible for additional pay for additional hours worked. However, if a part-time professional regularly works more than the weekly scheduled hours, the work schedule and/or job expectations may need to be re-evaluated.

With supervisor approval, shifting of a holiday is permitted for staff members on a FWA. Be sure to discuss the schedule with your supervisor first.

Staff members considering a reduced FWA schedule should discuss any potential impact on compensation and benefits with the Human Resources and Benefits offices.

In cases where the staff member is requesting to work a flexible work schedule and the majority of hours fall within a shift other than that normally scheduled, the staff member is not eligible for shift premium. 

Eligibility

Yes. Supervisors should follow the same guidelines for FWAs. However, it may be more challenging if there are staff members who need supervision during the hours the supervisor is unavailable.

Yes. Hourly staff members are eligible for FWA. However, supervisors need to be mindful of wage and hour laws when evaluating non-exempt staff members' flexible work arrangement requests. Certain types of flexible work arrangements could result in overtime pay for a non-exempt staff member.

Job Sharing

The division of the FTE (1.0) should be based on what it would take to complete the work and the applicant available to share the job. For example, a 60/40 split may work for your operation and meet the needs of the applicants. Ensure that the applicants understand what benefits they are eligible for based on the regular hours worked.

Be sure to outline expectations for how this will be handled in the written agreement prior to implementing a job-sharing arrangement. The staff member should discuss this with his or her supervisor, with reasonable notice, prior to the date he or she wishes to resume the previous schedule. The supervisor may or may not be able to approve the request, depending on the needs of the business unit.

Many supervisors offer the full-time post to the remaining sharer, but it may not be practicable for them to work full-time. Normally a job-share vacancy is advertised in the same way as any other. If filling the post is difficult the remaining sharer may have to become full-time. Or the sharer could continue part-time and the other half of the job is re-allocated.