Accueil » 29-2 ( 1974) » Les horaires flexibles

Les horaires flexibles

Pierrette Sartin


L'auteur présente les horaires flexibles, leurs avantages pour l'employeur et pour l'employé, leurs modalités d'application et les réactions de différentes parties à cette forme d'aménagement du temps de travail.


Flexible Working Hours

For the last five years rigid working schedules have increasingly been under attack and many new experiences have been tried in many European countries, particularly in Germany and Switzeriand. The essence of these experiences has been to adapt working schedules to each worker through a flexible hour system. The basic principle of such a system is the free and individual choice of entry and exit time within certain limits.

The flexible working hours system generally distinguishes three separate components to a working day : a core time when all employees must be at their job and two flexible time periods, at the beginning and at the end of the working day.

Such a system has advantages for both the employer and the employee.

As for the employer, such a system facilitates time Computing, encourages a decrease of short term absenteism and turnover, a reduction of internal traffic, a decrease of accidents on the way to work, a reduction of overtime, greater hiring advantages, and a longer service to the consumer. Moreover management workers may work in a more peaceful atmosphere, the social climate is ameliorated and internal conflicts are reduced.

As for the employees, a reduction of transportation time has been noted, family and personal needs are given a better chance to be satisfied, and a change of attitude towards work was underlined.

There is no best way to design and install such a system. There are many variations to it and adaptation is surely favorized under such a system. Experience, however, teaches some ground rules. First such a system much be progressively introduced. Experimentation is greatly encouraged. Second, it takes time for the system to give good results. Third, trial and error is often the best method. Fourth, rules must be established to avoid misunderstandings. Fifth, pragmatism is the golden rule. Sixth, a clear distinction must be made between exceeding hours and overtime. Seventh, a lot of information is necessary before and during the introduction of the system.

Flexible working hours practically require a form of control. This control, however, should itself be as flexible and as discreet as possible. Self control is to be aimed at. Such a control can be made by a time card, posted or not, by a punch clock, by special individual meter or by computer.

To the same extent that flexible working hour system is well accepted by employees, to the same extent does it find obstruction at the middle management level. That the system is applied to middle management is perceived as a move to put them on the same level as blue collar workers. But the basic reluctance of white collars comes from the revised notion of authority required by a flexible hour system. If one group needs particular attention when flexible hours are introduced, it is middle management.

Eventhough early reluctance of unions has been greatly dissipated, they still feel that such a system decreases the possibility of human contacts and that the greater responsibility left to the workers is subtle moral constraint.

Up to now, flexible hours have been very successful. This is not to say that they are a panacea nor that they will settle all personnel problems.