Statement on Signing the Federal Employees Flexible and Compressed Work Schedules Act of 1982

July 23, 1982

I am pleased to sign into law the Federal Employees Flexible and Compressed Work Schedules Act of 1982.

This act extends for 3 years the authority of Federal agencies to allow employees more flexibility in scheduling their workweeks. For example, where the nature of the work allows, employees may work 4 10-hour days per week, or begin their workday earlier or later than usual. The total time on the job remains the same, but the particular hours when the work is performed can vary.

For the past 3 years, the Federal Government has been experimenting with these alternative work schedules, following the lead of a number of private companies that found this kind of work scheduling beneficial. In the Government, too, most of the experiments were successful. Productivity increases were noted in some agencies, and many offices were able to stay open longer hours to serve the public.

These alternative work schedules also had a very positive effect on the morale of employees, who were able to adjust their work schedules to meet personal needs. This was particularly important to working mothers who used the flexibility in scheduling work hours to help them meet their responsibilities both at home and at the office. The overwhelming majority of Federal employees taking part in the experimental program said that it allowed them to spend more time with their families, as well as providing a better opportunity to participate in their children's school activities. It is especially rewarding to support a program that allows people to recapture some of the benefits of close family ties in an era when employment trends have been pushing us the other way.

As you would expect with an experimental program, there were some Federal agencies where alternative work schedules did not work too well -- where there were problems of accountability or where the demands of the public business were not well served. The act I am signing today recognizes the danger of such problems and gives Federal managers the necessary tools to prevent such problems from developing, or to deal with them if they do. I should also note that Federal employee unions will be fully involved in working with agency managers to see that alternative work schedules are used in ways that will meet the needs of both Federal employees and the taxpayers.

Finally, I would like to commend Senator Ted Stevens for his legislative skill and perseverance in getting all of the parties involved in this issue to join together in support of the act.

Note: As enacted, S. 2240 is Public Law 97 - 221, approved July 23.