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What to Know About Alternative Workweek Schedules in California

In California, employees have the option of working an alternative workweek. But what is an alternative workweek, and is this good news for employees and employers?

Employees may benefit from an alternative workweek by enjoying more flexibility in their work schedule than is available under a traditional eight-hour/five-day workweek. Here, the Feldman Browne, APC Law Firm will explain what an alternative workweek is in the state of California and what it means for those that decide to take part in it.


Labor Code section 511 provides: “ Upon the proposal of an employer, the employees of an employer may adopt a regularly scheduled alternative workweek that authorizes work by the affected employees for no longer than 10 hours per day within a 40-hour workweek without the payment to the affected employees of an overtime rate of compensation pursuant to this section. A proposal to adopt an alternative workweek schedule shall be deemed adopted only if it receives approval in a secret ballot election by at least two-thirds of affected employees in a readily identifiable work unit.

The regularly scheduled alternative workweek proposed by an employer for adoption by employees may be a single work schedule that would become the standard schedule for workers in the work unit, or a menu of work schedule options, from which each employee in the unit would be entitled to choose…”

If an employer implements an alternative workweek, employees can generally choose if they want to take part in this schedule, take part in the traditional schedule, or alternate between different options. An alternative workweek can take a number of structures, including working 4 days a week for 10 hours a day or a 9/80 schedule, which consists of eight 9-hour days, one 8-hour day, and one day off in a 2-week period.

Laptop, calendar, pen, coffee cup, and cell phone on a table.WHAT DO EMPLOYERS HAVE TO DO TO IMPLEMENT AN ALTERNATIVE WORKWEEK?

An employer cannot just implement an alternative workweek without prior consideration or employee approval. In order for an employer to implement an alternative workweek schedule, they must:

  1. Provide written notice of their intent to adopt an alternative workweek schedule;
  2. The employer’s proposed alternative schedule must be approved by a two-thirds vote of the affected employees in the work unit. A “work unit” is defined in the California wage orders to include all employees in a readily identifiable work unit, such as a division, a department, a job classification, a shift, a separate physical location, or a recognized subdivision of any such work unit. A work unit may consist of one employee as long as the requirements for an identifiable work unit are met.
  3. The vote must be conducted by secret ballot at the workplace.
  4. At least 14 days prior to a vote, the employer must disclose in writing and hold a meeting regarding the effects of the alternative workweek on the employees’ wages, hours and benefits.
  5. Provide a menu of options with alternative workweek options. Employees are free to choose their schedule from this menu.


When implemented properly, an alternative workweek can provide employees with many benefits, including more flexibility, longer shifts that minimize commuting time, and more. Employers that implement this workweek change are under close scrutiny from state and federal organizations such as the Industrial Welfare Commission or the Fair Labor Standards Act. Questions about your rights? We can help! Schedule a consultation with the attorneys at Feldman Browne, APC today.

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