Flextime refers to an arrangement permitting full-time employees to negotiate hours of employment, allowing for an arrangement of the start and end times of the workday and workweek in such a way that they vary from the standard work schedule. Flextime arrangements benefit both the employee and the employer, as such programs resolve conflicts between work and family responsibilities with the intention of promoting productivity. Women are the main benefactors of flextime, as these programs offset family demands traditionally assigned to women.
As originally conceived, flextime policies aim at reducing the pressures on women to leave the labor market to bear and rear children. Through such policies, women would not be subject to derailed career paths, loss of wages, and lack of employment consideration as a result of family demands. Flextime policies thus create greater equity between men and women in the workplace.
Working women are not the only ones who benefit from flextime policies. Employers benefit from such programs in numerous ways. By controlling their own work schedules, employees can reduce the stress and distraction that comes from competing home and work responsibilities, thereby lowering tardiness and absentee rates. Accommodating schedules also result in lower turnover rates. Moreover, offering the option of flextime allows employers to be competitive in their hiring practices, making their company more attractive to potential employees and putting themselves in a better position to hire and retain valuable employees.
Flextime arrangements may be of a formal or informal nature, although formal flextime arrangements are more common in large organizations, with policies outlining flextime options and arrangements. Usually, employers make flextime available only to employees holding certain types of positions least affected by such an arrangement. Within smaller organizations, flextime arrangements are often worked out informally among a work group.
Studies of the impact of flextime arrangements on negative spillover, job satisfaction, and salary rates and parity between men and women are inconclusive. To the extent that women remain the primary responsible parties for home responsibilities and the ones more likely to take advantage of flextime, the policy seems to perpetuate much of the inequity it was designed to alleviate. Until flextime is seen as a viable option for men and women and the stigma associated with its use eliminated, the goal of reducing inequity in the workplace remains unattained.
- Giele, Janet Bollinger and Leslie F. Stebbins. 2003. Women and Equality in the Workplace. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.
- Weeden, Kim A. 2005. “Is There a Flexiglass Ceiling? Flexible Work Arrangements and Wages in the United States.” Social Science Research 34:454-82.
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