A compressed work schedule allows an employee to work a traditional 35-40 hour workweek in less than five workdays. For example, a full-time employee could work four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days.

This option is more easily applied to non-exempt (bi-weekly paid) staff for whom maximum work hours are identified, but it is not ruled out for monthly paid staff who may work more than 40 hours during the work week. Duke Payroll practices require non-exempt staff that agree to a compressed work week arrangement to be paid overtime based on all hours over 40 in a workweek.

Another popular option is a nine day/two week work arrangement, which allows for two weeks of work to be compressed into nine or nine and a half days of work. This is popular with staff members who want some flexibility in their schedule and do not mind extra time built into the beginning or end of the work day, but do not want the long days compressed work week require.

Note: The nine day/two week option can be difficult to arrange for non-exempt staff members. According to the FLSA, all non-exempt staff members who work in excess of 40 hours in a standard workweek or 80 hours in a pay period are eligible for overtime pay. Overtime pay is calculated at the rate of 1½ times the staff member's regular rate of pay. Additionally, the Department of Labor and Duke payroll practices dictate that pay be received in the period in which the work is performed. It would be very difficult to work out varying pay amounts weekly to respond to alternating work schedules to accommodate this arrangement. For example, for a total of 70 hours over two weeks of work, 40 hours one week and 30 hours the next would require a non-exempt staff member to receive different pay for each week of work.

Advantages and Challenges

Staff members working compressed work weeks may spend less time commuting during a given week.The longer workday may be physically and mentally draining.
Staff members working compressed work weeks have more time outside of work to take care of personal responsibilities; as a result they can be more focused on the tasks at hand during their scheduled work time.It may be a challenge to sustain morale among staff members who work long days but do not have the opportunity to work a compressed work week.
Staff members working compressed work weeks may be more productive during the hours outside of the traditional workday, when fewer staff members are present.Some types of compressed schedules, such as 80 hours over 9 days, may present a challenge to supervisors of non-exempt staff members, since overtime must be paid to non-exempt staff members who work more than 40 hours in a given week.
Compressed work weeks can improve work area coverage and extend the hours of service to internal and external customers.Staff members may find it difficult to arrange dependent care or transportation around the longer workday.

Compressed Work Example

John wanted to find a way to integrate more personal time into his life while continuing to meet his responsibilities at work. After assessing the situation with his supervisor, they agreed that a compressed work schedule could be beneficial for him. Working a compressed work schedule permits John to work four 10-hour days, giving him an extra day off during the workweek to handle responsibilities he has outside of the workplace.