What Alternative Workweek Schedules (AWS) Are and How to Implement Them

Alternative Workweek Schedules

What is an Alternative Workweek Schedule?

An Alternative Workweek Schedule (“AWS”) is defined as “any regularly scheduled workweek requiring an employee to work more than eight hours in a 24-hour period.” Labor Code Section 500(c). Essentially, an employee working an AWS will work fewer days during the week, but more hours during the days worked, adding up to the same amount of time worked during the week as with normal scheduling.  Even though the employee is working over 8 hours in a day, with an AWS, the employer is not obligated to pay overtime unless the employee works over 10 hours.


I’m considering implementing an AWS. How do I do that?

According to Labor Code Section 511:

An employer can propose that their employees adopt a regularly scheduled alternative workweek that authorizes work by the affected employees for a maximum of 10 hours per day within a 40-hour workweek without the payment of overtime.

This new AWS is only adopted if it receives approval in a secret ballot election by at least two-thirds of the affected employees within a readily identifiable work unit.

  • A Work Unit is defined as a division, department, job classification, shift, separate physical location, or a recognized subdivision thereof.

The proposal can be a single work schedule that is the standard for all workers, or it can be a menu of work schedule options from which each employee can choose from. If the employees want a menu, then they are permitted to move from one schedule option to another on a weekly basis, with employer consent.

Note that in addition to Labor Code Section 511, the Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) Wage Orders have provisions related to implementing an AWS and some Wage Orders prohibit the use of an AWS in certain industries.  Make sure to consult the relevant Wage Orders that pertain to your employees before implementing an AWS.


What guidelines do I need to follow when holding a vote on and implementing an AWS?

Prior to any vote on the AWS, the employer must hold meetings with employees at least 14 days prior to the election to discuss the AWS and its effects on wages, hours, and benefits.

After the vote on the AWS is held, the results of the election should be reported by the employer to the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) within 30 days of vote results. The following information must be included in the report to the DLSE: the name of the business, address, city, state, zip code, county, nature of the business, date of election, date of letter, final and full tally of the vote, size of the affected work unit, and work schedule.

The Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) maintains a database on AWS elections by employers, which can be found here: https://www.dir.ca.gov/databases/oprl/dlsr-awe.html

Employees should notified of the results of the AWS election, and the AWS should be implemented at least 30 days after the final election results.

What are the pros of an AWS?

  • Greater flexibility for employees; they may work longer hours but do so for fewer days.
  • Decreased commuting time.
  • Better work-life balance.
  • More job satisfaction and therefore more commitment to employer.
  • For the employer, an AWS may cut down on overtime payment.

What are the cons of an AWS?

  • Employees work longer hours during the work week.
  • The implementation of an AWS Requires careful planning, procedure, and a submission to the DIR by the employer.
  • There is often less staff coverage on certain days, which may require careful planning and scheduling.
  • Supervisors and staff might not work the same hours.

Ways to consider implementing an AWS

  • 4/10: Four 10 hour days in a single workweek
  • 4/9 + half day: Four 9 hour days in a workweek, with one half day of approx. 4 hours.
  • 9/80: Eighty hours over 9 work days (one day off every 2 weeks; 8.8 hours per day)
  • Summer Schedule:
    • Summer Schedules are specifically authorized by the DLSE and are typically effective June through September.
    • So long as schedule is regularly recurring – meaning determined in advance, fixed, and employees are provided notice of the time period – that schedule will apply.

If you have questions about employment issues, please contact Devin Mikulka.

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