Increased Flexitime Program (IFP)

INCREASED FLEXITIME PROGRAM FOR EMPLOYEES OF THE U.S. PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE

The Increased Flexitime Program (IFP) is a type of flexible work schedule that allows full-time employees to work their regular hours in less than 10 full workdays. Regular hours are those hours that constitute the 80-hour biweekly basic work requirement (herein after referred to as the "80-hour requirement"). Regular hours must be worked within the designated six-day workweek (i.e., Monday through Saturday). Under the IFP, full-time employees may vary the number of hours worked each day and the days worked each week, as long as they, (1) meet the 80-hour requirement within agency set limits and, (2) satisfy core hour requirements.

5 U.S.C. § 6122 requires agencies to designate days and hours during which employees must be present for work (hereinafter referred to as "core hours"). Therefore, employees are required to be in a paid status from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. each Tuesday (1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. each Thursday for POPA bargaining unit members). This means that an employee must be "at work" (including telecommuting from home or an alternative work-site; attending a conference, training or officially sponsored event; in travel status) or on approved leave (including compensatory time and credit hours) during this time.

Employees working under the IFP may determine their work schedule within the limits set forth below:

  • Employees must satisfy their 80-hour requirement between the hours of 5:30 a.m. and 10:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
  • Regular hours may NOT be worked on a Sunday. However, the tour of duty for the IFP shall include Sunday for the purpose of permitting employees to work credit hours.
  • Credit hours must be used within the same pay period as earned, unless otherwise permitted by a credit hour agreement or program.
  • Credit hours may be worked on any day, including Sundays, between the hours of 5:30 a.m. and 10:00 p.m.
  • Employees must work a minimum of 4 days per week, including core hours. The maximum number of hours that can be worked per day is 12 (excluding the required 30-minute meal period).
  • Employees may mid-day flex, meaning an employee may work more than one work period during the same day.
  • Core hours for non-bargaining unit employees are from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. each Tuesday of the biweek unless designated otherwise by the organization.
  • Core hours for NTEU 243 and NTEU 245 bargaining unit employees are from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. each Tuesday of the biweek.
  • Core hours for POPA bargaining unit employees are from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. each Thursday.
  • In any given biweek, employees may choose to work regular hours and/or credit hours on only one weekend day per calendar week. Therefore, employees may choose to work the Saturday of the first week and the Sunday of the second week. However, employees choosing to work on a Sunday may only earn credit hours or work approved overtime or compensatory time. No regular hours may be worked on a Sunday.
  • Employees must maintain at least "Fully Successful" performance in order to participate in the IFP.
  • Employees may voluntarily elect to work the IFP. However, participation may be restricted due to the nature of an employee's position; e.g., the position requires his/her presence during USPTO business hours as determined by the supervisor, to ensure office coverage, etc.

If you have any questions, you may contact your servicing Employee Relations Specialist and/or the Employee Relations Branch at (571) 272-6000.

Business Unit leaders are responsible for the overall administration of the IFP. Their responsibilities include developing the operating parameters of the IFP for their respective organizations.

Holidays -

  • Pay for Unworked Holiday. Under the Government's flexible work schedule requirements, full-time employees are entitled and limited by law to receive 8 hours pay at their basic rate of pay for holidays. Accordingly, employees participating in the IFP, if otherwise qualified, will receive 8 hours pay for the day (holiday leave) designated as the employee's holiday by statute or Executive Order (See 5 U.S.C. 6124). Therefore, full-time employees on a flexible schedule under which employees work more than 8 hours a day must make arrangements to work extra hours during other regularly scheduled workdays (or take annual leave or use credit hours or compensatory time off) in order to fulfill the 80-hour biweekly work requirement.

 

  • Pay for Holiday Holiday pay for non-overtime work is limited to a maximum of 8 hours in a day. Employees who are authorized to work on a holiday will receive holiday leave pay, plus the number of hours actually worked at the employee's rate of basic pay for work performed during the first 8 hours worked on a holiday. Any work performed after the first 8 hours can be considered either overtime, compensatory hours, or credit hours. If approved to work a holiday, a maximum of 12 hours may be worked.

 

  • Employees must be in a pay status or a paid time off status (i.e., leave, compensatory time off, or credit hours) on their scheduled workdays either before or after a holiday in order to be entitled to holiday leave for that day.

 

  • “In Lieu of” Holidays

 

Because there are no required hours under IFP, there is no need for “in lieu of” holidays under IFP. Full-time employees should claim eight hours of holiday leave on the day of the holiday. 

 

           Timekeeping -

  • Time is to be reported in 15-minute increments.
  • The smallest period of time worked for which employees may receive credit is a quarter of an hour (15 minutes).

Employee Responsibilities -

  • Employees are responsible for keeping track of their own time and accurately recording their time in WebTA.
  • Employees must coordinate their work schedules to ensure that necessary office coverage is maintained.
  • Employees are required to attend training and meetings as long as reasonable advance notice is given.
  • Employees must notify their supervisor if they will be absent on a weekday, prior to the absence. For example, if a supervisor is expecting the employee to be at work at 10 am, the employee should notify the supervisor of the absence prior to 10 am.
  • Employees are required to leave "out of office" notices on their e-mail and phone, as appropriate.

 

INCREASED FLEXITIME POLICY QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Participation

When can I sign up for IFP and how often may I change work schedules?

Unless you are in a position that requires fixed hours, you can change between any of the available schedules once a quarter by notifying your supervisor in writing. The change becomes effective the first full biweek of the next new quarter, as long as you give notice before the beginning of that biweek. However, if you desire to simply return to a regular 8-hour, five-day, workweek, you can do so with supervisory approval at any time.

May part-time employees participate in this program?

No.

Is this scheduling option available to probationary employees?

Yes, if approved by the Supervisor.

What is meant by fully successful performance (for purposes of eligibility to participate in the program)?

Employees may be restricted from participating in this program if there is a requirement for close supervision due to serious deficiencies in the performance of their primary tasks over a period of at least one quarter to the extent that the level of their performance would constitute grounds for a less than Fully Successful performance rating.

Am I required to take a 30-minute unpaid meal period?

Yes. If you work more than six consecutive hours in a day, you must take an unpaid meal period of at least 30 minutes. You may not shorten your workday by taking this meal period at the beginning or end of your workday. If you do not work more than six consecutive hours, you are not required to take an unpaid meal period.

Do I have to end my shift after a full hour of work each day?

No. Under the IFP, you need not work a full hour; you may work in fifteen-minute increments. For example, you can work four and one quarter-hours one day and ten and three quarter-hours the next.

How many days may I work in a calendar week (Sunday through Saturday)?

Six. You may not work both a Saturday and a Sunday in the same calendar week.

Is it possible to work a full weekend in a biweek?

Yes. However, any hours worked on a Sunday may not be regular hours.

May I work an 8-hour day from 1:30 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.?

Yes, unless it is a Tuesday (Thursday for POPA bargaining unit members). Employees must satisfy their core hour requirement from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Tuesdays (1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. each Thursday for POPA bargaining unit members).

May I work a 7-hour day from 5:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.?

Yes, unless it is a Tuesday (Thursday for POPA bargaining unit members). Employees must satisfy their core hour requirement from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Tuesdays (1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. each Thursday for POPA bargaining unit members).

May I work a 4-hour day from 5:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.?

Yes.

May I work a 12-hour day from 9:30 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.?

Yes.

In a biweek, can I allocate my regular 80 hours of work on (1st week) Sunday, Monday, Thursday, Friday and (2nd week) Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday?

No. You may not work regular hours on the first Sunday of the biweek. However, you may work credit hours on the first Sunday and use those credit hours on another day during the biweek.

Combining my regular work hours and midday flex, can I work a 7-hour day from 6:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m., and 4:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.?

Yes, unless it is a Tuesday (Thursday for POPA bargaining unit members). Employees must satisfy their core hour requirement from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Tuesdays (1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. each Thursday for POPA bargaining unit members). Since you will not work more than 6 consecutive hours in a day, an unpaid 30-minute lunch period is not required. Employees may not work more than a total of 12 hours in a day.

If an employee works from 4:30 to 5:30 a.m., or from 10:00 to 11:30 p.m., can it be counted as regular hours?

No. Regular hours may only be worked from 5:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

Can everyone now work regular hours until 10:00 p.m.?

No. You must elect to participate in the IFP in order to work regular hours until 10:00 p.m., and your position must be such that it is not necessary for you to be at work to ensure office coverage or it does not require your presence during USPTO business hours.

Is there a limit on the total amount of hours of regular time, overtime, compensatory time and credit hours an employee can work per day?

Yes. An employee may not work more than a total of 12 hours in a day.

What happens if I cannot work my core hour on a Tuesday from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. (Thursday for POPA bargaining unit members from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.)?

Employees may take approved paid leave, or use a compensatory hour or a credit hour earned to satisfy the core hour requirement on Tuesdays (Thursdays for POPA bargaining unit members).

Can I work regular hours on a Sunday?

No. Employees cannot work regular hours on a Sunday. However, employees may work up to 12 credit hours on a Sunday or employees may work approved overtime or compensatory time on a Sunday provided they will meet their 80-hour requirement.

Credit Hours, Overtime, and Compensatory Time

 

What are credit hours?

Employees may work/earn credit hours within the rules or limits of a flexible work schedule program. Credit hours are worked/earned and used at the election of the employee. Once earned, credit hours may then be used in place of working regularly scheduled hours and to satisfy the 80-hour biweekly work requirement.

How do credit hours differ from compensatory time?

Compensatory time is earned in lieu of paid overtime work that is ordered or approved in advance by the employee's supervisor. Compensatory time represents overtime and, if liquidated, is paid out at the employee's overtime rate. Credit hours, on the other hand, are worked at the election of the employee and are to be used in the same pay period.

Can I be paid off for my credit hours if I don't use them?

No. Credit hours earned under the IFP must be used within the same pay period as they are earned, unless otherwise covered by a credit hour agreement or program. Credit hours are “use or lose” hours and are not paid out.

Do I need advance permission to earn or use credit hours?

No. You may elect to earn and use credit hours during designated hours during the biweek without prior approval, except for credit hours worked on a holiday.

Can I earn credit hours, carry them over into a subsequent pay period and then use them?

No. Under the IFP, you should plan the earning and using of credit hours carefully since you must use any credit hours you earn within the same pay period (unless you are covered by a separate credit hour agreement or program which permits the carryover of credit hours from one pay period to the next).

Do the credit hours I earn on Sunday count toward the 80-hour requirement?

No, credit hours earned do not count toward the 80-hour requirement; only credit hours used during the biweek can be applied toward the 80-hour requirement.

Can I use credit hours on a Sunday?

No, since Sunday is not a regular workday, credit hours used may not be claimed for any hours on Sunday.

When can I claim overtime under this program?

If you are approved to work overtime or compensatory time, you can claim overtime or compensatory time for hours you work in excess of eight hours in a day or in excess of 40 hours in a week, provided you have met the 80-hour biweekly work requirement.

 

I am on the IFP schedule. Can I work overtime on the Laptop Program prior to accumulating 80 hours of “regular” time?

Yes, you can.   Just like on the Hoteling Program, you may work overtime or compensatory time for hours you work in excess of eight hours in a day or in excess of 40 hours in a week, provided you meet the 80-hour biweekly work requirement.

How can I meet the 80-hour biweekly work requirement so I can claim overtime?

In order to meet the 80-hour biweekly work requirement so overtime can be claimed, you must have 80 hours in a pay status. Any combination of regular hours worked, approved paid leave, compensatory time used, and/or credit hours used that total 80 hours in a biweek satisfies the 80-hour work requirement.

If I work in excess of 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week but have less than 80 hours in a pay status for the biweek, can I still claim overtime for those hours?

No, you cannot qualify for overtime without meeting the 80-hour biweekly requirement. If you have less than 80 hours in pay status for the biweek, any hours you claim as overtime or compensatory time is regular time until you have met the 80-hour requirement for the biweek.

If I have less than 80 hours in a pay status for the biweek, how would my hours worked on Sunday be treated?

The hours you worked on Sunday between 5:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. are credit hours. However, if you were lacking sufficient hours to meet the 80-hour requirement, any credit hours used in the same biweek would count towards the 80-hour requirement.

Do I earn premium pay when I work credit hours on Sunday?

 

No. Since credit hours are not regularly scheduled hours of work, they do not qualify for premium pay.

 

 

Compensatory Time for Religious Observances (Religious Comp Time)

 

If I am on the IFP can I earn religious compensation on a Sunday?

Yes, you can earn compensatory time for religious observances on a Sunday. The compensatory time for religious observances you earn on a Sunday must be for a specific occasion and are not to be earned in an attempt to bank religious compensation hours.

Can I use religious compensatory time for a religious event that takes place on a Sunday?

No. Because you cannot work regular hours on a Sunday, you may not use religious compensatory time on a Sunday to meet the 80-hour requirement.  Religious compensatory time must be used for a specific religious event on a Monday through Saturday.

 

Holidays

 

Does an unworked holiday count toward the 80-hour biweekly work requirement?

 

Yes. You may claim 8 hours of holiday leave for an unworked holiday and this leave applies to the 80-hour biweekly requirement.

 

If an employee works on a holiday, will it be considered holiday pay or overtime/compensatory time?

 

It depends. If an employee has been approved to work on the holiday and has been approved to work overtime or compensatory time and actually works on a holiday, he/she will be paid holiday pay up to 8 hours. Any hours worked on a holiday in excess of 8 hours, and up to a total of 12 hours, can be considered overtime, compensatory time, or credit hours.

 

May I work overtime on a holiday? If so, how much overtime can I work on a holiday?

 

Yes. If approved to work on the holiday, the first 8 hours of work will be paid as work hours at the basic rate of pay and up to an additional 4 hours of work will be at your overtime rate of pay, for a total of 12 hours.

 

If my day off is the holiday, what day is my “in lieu of” holiday?

 

Even though you may work a set schedule that does not include time on a holiday, you should claim eight hours on the holiday and adjust your normal schedule to work eight hours less during the biweek or to work overtime if approved. With a flexible schedule, there is no need to have “in lieu of’” holidays.

 

Leave

 

How much leave can I take on a given day?

 

You can take a maximum of 12 hours of approved leave.

 

If I would normally work 9 hours for a day under IFP, but cannot due to illness and request sick leave, can I take nine hours of sick leave or only eight?

 

You can take nine hours of approved sick leave.

 

Can I use earned leave and still work 12 hours on the same day?

 

No. You may only be in a pay status for 12 hours, including use of annual leave, sick leave, compensatory time used, credit hours used, regular duty hours or overtime, compensatory time and credit hours earned.

 

If an employee planned to work on Saturday and/or Sunday but unexpectedly cannot, can the employee ask for leave during the weekend? If so, what are the procedures for requesting leave?

 

If the employee needs the hours to complete the 80-hour requirement, the employee may request leave or use of compensatory time or credit hours on Saturday. Since Sunday is not a regular workday, no leave (including compensatory time or credit hours used) may be taken for any hours on Sunday. Therefore, supervisors may not approve leave for Sunday for any employee on the IFP. As is the current policy, employees should request leave in advance whenever possible. When this is not possible, the employee should at least leave a voicemail and/or e-mail message to his/her supervisor requesting the leave. This may be necessary because the supervisor will likely not be at work. The employee must understand that leaving a message does not constitute approval.

 

 

Closures and Dismissals

 

If the Government is closed due to inclement weather, how many hours of administrative leave will an employee working under the IFP be entitled to claim on that day?

 

If the Government is closed for the entire day (e.g., inclement weather or other emergency), the employee will be entitled to the amount of hours he/she would have worked on that particular day, up to a maximum of 8 hours.

 

Employees working at home under Telework or Hoteling programs are normally expected to work.

 

If the Government closes early for other than inclement weather at a specific time, e.g., Christmas Eve, at 2:30 p.m., the employee is only entitled to excused absence for the amount of time that is granted, normally two hours. The employee must already be in a work status to be entitled to the excused absence.

 

If I plan to work on a Saturday or Sunday, but I cannot come in because of weather or other reasons, can I claim the eight hours described above?

 

No. The government is not officially open on these days. If you need the time to complete the 80-hour requirement, you would need to use annual leave, previously earned compensatory time or credit hours, or request leave without pay.

 

 

Out-of-Office Messages

 

What happens if I am sick or otherwise unable to update my voicemail to indicate that I will not be in the office?

 

You are required to make an effort to keep your voicemail current. There will be times when you may not be able to do this -- for example, if you are incapacitated due to sickness or injury.

 

Regarding my e-mail, what if I don't come in on a day I had planned to?

 

Those with internet access may access their Outlook email through USPTO Web Mail and change their out-of-office message at https://webmail.uspto.gov/exchange.  You are not required to update your e-mail.

 

What happens if I forget to update my voicemail or e-mail?

 

Your supervisor will remind you of this requirement. The goal here is to create good customer service habits. Remember, you do have internal as well as external customers.

 

Do I need to leave a message on my voicemail and e-mail if I am going to be absent for only a part of the day?

 

You are required to update your voicemail and e-mail only if you will be absent for a full day, Monday through Friday (excluding holidays), however, it may be beneficial if you do, even if you are absent only part of the day.