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123 Monthly Lab. Rev. 33 (2000)
Flexible Schedules and Shift Work: Replacing the 9-to-5 Workday

handle is hein.journals/month123 and id is 567 raw text is: Flexible schedules and shift work:
replacing the '9-to-5' workday?
Flexible work hours have gained in prominence,
as more than a quarter of all workers
can now vary their schedules;
however, there has been little change in the proportion
who work a shift other than a regular daytime shift

raditionally, much of the American labor
force has worked in a structured environ-
ment, with the work schedule following a
set pattern-what many people have termed the
9-to-5 workday. Recent studies show that em-
ployers are beginning to recognize that many
workers prefer schedules that allow greater
flexibility in choosing the times they begin and
end their workday. Consequently, increasing
numbers and proportions of full-time workers
in the United States are able to opt for flexible
work hours, allowing workers to vary the ac-
tual times they arrive and leave the work place.
For some workers, however, the nature of their
jobs requires that they work a schedule other
than a regular day shift, what may be termed
an alternative shift.' Examples of such alter-
native shift workers are police officers, emer-
gency room physicians, and assembly-line
workers at a factory.
In contrast to the increasing proportion of
workers with flexible work schedules, the inci-
dence of shift work has not changed since the
mid-1980s. If not for the sizable job gains in
service occupations, the overall proportion of
workers on shift work would have edged down
in recent years.
Recent data on flexible work hours and shift
work are from information collected in the May
1997 supplement to the Current Population Sur-

vey (cps).2 This article uses that supplement to
examine both the incidence and trends in flexible
work hours and alternative shift work and, also,
the relationship between the jobs in which people
work and the prevalence of these digressions
from the more traditional 9-to-5 workday.
Flexible work schedules
In 1997, more than 25 million workers, or 27.6
percent of all full-time wage and salary work-
ers varied their work hours to some degree.
Note that flexible schedule arrangements for
many workers are probably informal, as indi-
cated by data from the Bureau of Labor Statis-
tics Employee Benefits Survey (EBS), in which
employers provide information about em-
ployee access to various types of work-related
benefits. The latest EBS data, from 1994-97, show
that less than 6 percent of employees have for-
mal flexible work schedule arrangements.3
cPs data show that the proportion of work-
ers on flexible work schedules-either formal
or informal-has more than doubled since
1985, when such data were first collected.
The increase in flexible work schedules since
then has been widespread across demographic
groups. The following tabulation shows the
percent of workers, by age and race and His-
panic origin, who work flexible schedules:

Monthly Labor Review  June 2000  33

Thomas M. Beers
Thomas M. Beers
is an economist
in the Division of Labor
Force Statistics,
Bureau
of Labor Statistics.

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