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Hours of duty and work schedules

A basic workweek is the officially prescribed days and hours during which a full-time employee is entitled to basic pay. The basic work week for all full-time employees in the Department is 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, including a daily non-compensable lunch period of 30 minutes. Variations from the basic workweek may be authorized by the head of an operating unit or an official to whom personnel management authority is delegated in DAO 202-250. A basic workweek may not extend over more than six of any seven consecutive days.

A regularly scheduled administrative workweek is the period an employee is regularly scheduled to work within an administrative workweek (i.e., a period of seven consecutive 24-hour periods designated in advance). For a full-time employee, it consists of the 40-hour basic workweek plus any periods of regularly scheduled overtime work. For a part-time employee, it means the officially prescribed days and hours during which the employee is regularly scheduled to work. 

A tour of duty is the hours of a day (a daily tour of duty) and the days of an administrative workweek (a weekly tour of duty) that constitute an employee’s regularly scheduled administrative workweek. 

An employee’s tour of duty is to be scheduled so it corresponds with the employee’s actual work requirements and ensures that functions are adequately staffed during office or bureau operating hours. The appointment SF-50, Notification of Personnel Action, will reflect the employee's initial tour of duty.

Scheduling Considerations. A regularly scheduled administrative workweek must be established for every full-time employee unless the employee works a first 40-hour tour of duty, is paid annual premium pay for standby duty, works a flexible or compressed work schedule, or is intermittent. 

When an assignment to a new tour of duty is necessary, an employee must be given as much advance notice as possible. Unless there is a bargaining unit agreement that states otherwise, it is standard practice that schedules be established by 6 p.m. Friday of the week prior to the one in which the time will be worked. A schedule may need to be established earlier depending on the hour a majority of the employees depart the workplace. Absent a bargaining unit agreement, published policy, posted schedule or notification that says otherwise, an employee's schedule is deemed set for the following week at that time.

Special Tours of Duty 

Part-time Employment. Part-time schedules may be established when the workload will not support full-time employment or when an employee asks to work part-time and the request can be accommodated. A permanent part-time employee may not work less than 16 hours or more than 32 hours in a week. Temporary part-time employees are not held to these limitations. 

Part-time employment may be scheduled in quarter hour increments, e.g., Monday 9:15 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., in organizations which charge leave in quarter hour increments, however, the end result may not be a biweekly tour with fractions (e.g., 17 ½ hours, etc.). Otherwise, part-time schedules must be established in whole hours.

When a part-time employee's schedule changes to full-time for more than two consecutive pay periods, the change must be documented by a personnel action to ensure the employee’s leave, service credit and benefits are appropriately applied. 

Intermittent Employment. Intermittent work schedules may be established when the work of a less than full-time position is so sporadic and unpredictable that a tour of duty cannot be scheduled in advance. The hours when the employee’s services are required constitute the hours of duty.

When the work of an intermittent employee becomes regularly scheduled in nature, i.e., for more than two consecutive pay periods, the employee's schedule must be changed by personnel action for the same reasons outlined above under part-time employment.

Mixed Tours. Because of changing workloads, employees may be scheduled to a mixed tour which includes periods of full-time, part-time, and intermittent or furlough employment. Employees who are hired to work a mixed tour as a condition of employment are exempt from the 16 to 32 hour per week part-time employment restriction.

First 40 Hours Tour. When the work situation is such that it is impossible to schedule the hours or days of a regularly scheduled administrative work-week, but employees will perform at least 40 hours of work in an administrative work-week, the employee may be assigned to a tour of duty which consists of the first 40 hours of work performed over not more than 6 days of the administrative workweek. This situation is not limited to - but is not uncommon in - scientific and engineering environments. 

Changing a Tour of Duty 

Assignments to tours of duty must be scheduled in advance of the administrative workweek over periods of not less than one week. A regularly scheduled administrative workweek must be rescheduled whenever it is known in advance that based on work requirements the specific days and hours of a day actually required of an employee will differ from those required in the current administrative workweek. The employee shall be informed of the change and the change must be recorded on the employee’s time and attendance report.

An employee's tour may not be changed solely to avoid paying premium pay to which the employee would otherwise be entitled or to avoid the costs incurred because of a holiday, absence for military or court leave, absence resulting from an on-the-job injury, or absence in connection with funerals of immediate relatives in the armed forces.

Rescheduling could be required for such purposes as to permit an employee’s attendance in a training class (as described below) or conference, when an employee under an Alternative Work Schedule (AWS) is in travel status at a location not under an AWS, or to substitute for an absent employee’s tour of duty. See section titled Alternative Work Schedules.

Rescheduling for Educational Purposes. A special tour of duty may be authorized to permit an employee to take one or more courses at college, university, or other educational institution. In this situation, the courses cannot be training under the Government Employees’ Training Act; the rescheduling will not prevent the employee from accomplishing required work; additional costs for personal services will not be incurred; and completion of the courses will equip the employee for more effective work in the agency.

Varied work hours under this heading must be requested by the employee in writing.

Scheduling Travel

Employee travel should be scheduled to take place during regular working hours to the extent possible. However, an employee may be required to travel on personal time, e.g., after normal working hours, on weekends or a holiday. A supervisor who requires an employee to perform travel on personal time, when such travel is not compensable by premium pay (see Part II, Pay Handbook, Premium Pay), must, if the employee requests it, provide reasons in writing for ordering the employee to travel during those hours. A copy of the statement must be retained with the employee's time and attendance report.

Scheduling Lunch Periods

The law and regulation do not specifically address "lunch periods". 5 U.S.C. 6101(a)(3)(F) includes a prohibition against breaks in employee working hours of more than one hour (the Office of Personnel Management cites this law as the authority for allowing employees a non-compensable lunch break). It is practice throughout government that any workday of five hours or more include a 30-minute non-compensable lunch period. This may be extended to one hour if the workday is correspondingly extended.

An employee may not work through the lunch period in order to extend paid time or to otherwise modify his or her established schedule. 

Scheduling Breaks

Compensable rest periods during the workday may be authorized for health and safety or efficiency reasons. Rest periods must not exceed 15 minutes during each four hour period of work. They must not be scheduled immediately before or after lunch periods or at the start or end of a workday. Employees are generally not authorized to leave the work place during rest periods because they are in pay status (Comp. Gen. B-1190011, dated December 30, 1977). 

Scheduling Preparation and Clean Up Time

A reasonable amount of the scheduled workday may be set aside for preparation and clean up activities. If this kind of activity cannot be included in an employee's scheduled work-day, up to 30 minutes overtime may be authorized. 

Daylight Savings Time

An employee working on a shift when daylight savings time goes into effect will be credited with the actual number of hours worked on that shift. If an employee is not permitted to work an additional hour, the hour lost in the change to daylight savings time will be charged to annual leave, accrued compensatory time, accrued credit hours, if on a flexible alternative work schedule, or leave without pay (LWOP) as appropriate. An employee working on shift upon return to standard time is credited for the actual number of hours worked on that shift.

Official Time and Resources by Members of the National Guard and Armed Forces Reserves

Supervisors may approve limited use of official time and agency resources for National Guard or Armed Forces Reserves members for Guard or Reserve activities during the employee’s regular working hours if the use involves minimal expense to the Government and does not interfere with official business. An example is when the employee/Reserve member is required to verbally contact other Reserve unit members and report back to the Reserve center by voice or fax of the unit members’ availability. 

The use of such time and resources should be limited to situations where the employee is called upon to complete some incidental Guard or Reserve function that the employee cannot reasonably schedule for non-working hours or for which he or she cannot make reasonable arrangements to carry out elsewhere. The Guard or Reserve activity must not interfere with the agency’s mission and the employee’s responsibility to the agency. Employees are to obtain supervisory approval prior to performing incidental Guard or Reserve activities during working hours. (See GAO Opinion B-277678, January 4, 1999)

Updated October 2000.