A bill that would allow flexible work schedules for federal employes passed the House yesterday by a 283 to 57 vote.
The bill would set up a three-year experimental study allowing employes to work hours with flexible starting and quitting times, including experimenting with a work week of four 10 hour days.
It would waive requirements to pay overtime to participants who work beyond an appointed hour, but would not waive overtime requirements if the employe worked more than 80 hours in a two-week period.
Under the bill, the Civil Service Commission would select the agencies which would participate in the experiment. The agency would then select the areas or units which would participate. The unit would have to approve the adoption of a flexible time schedule, but no employe would be forced to participate in the program, even if it were adopted by his or her unit. The bill would affect only fulltime employes, and not employes in the legislative or judicial branches.
Managers would select "core times," hours when everyone would have to be present, and the flexible starting and quitting times would be arranged outside of those hours.
The bill, written by Rep. Patricia Schroeder (D-Colo.), was defeated in March, when it was brought up under a method that required a two-thirds vote for approval.
Yesterday, to ensure passage, the bill's sponsors adopted an amendment that would make participation by agencies voluntary instead of mandatory as it was before.
Schroeder said the system had a good track record in the private sector, which she said is "way ahead" of the government in using flexible working hours.
The flexible working hours concept was first introduced in Germany in 1967 at an aerospace firm. Now 50 percent of Germany's white-collar workers work under the system.