NAPE/AFSCME member Amanda Chipman works for the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services as a Behavioral Health Practitioner at the Omaha Correctional Center. Like many of her colleagues in behavioral health, Amanda is an overtime exempt employee. Amanda knew that our union contract applies to all NAPE-covered employees, whether they are overtime eligible or not, so she was surprised when she was told she would not be allowed to flex her schedule because she is an overtime exempt employee.
Article 7 of our contract guarantees that union members can flex their work schedule within reason. The contract says that management should consider a few factors when an employee requests to flex their schedule: does it interfere with the employee getting all their work done or disrupt the agency’s ability to provide services? If not, the request should be granted. The contract also states that flex time requests shall not be unreasonably denied. Notably, the contract does not say anything about exempt or non-exempt employees. All union members have the right to flex time as long as the request is reasonable.
Due to a busy week at work with additional trainings, Amanda requested to flex her schedule. The request was denied. When Amanda inquired into why the request was denied, she was told it was because she is an overtime exempt employee. Amanda correctly realized that this is not a legitimate reason to deny a flex time request. She reached out to her union representative right away and a grievance was filed on her behalf.
After a hearing on the matter, a Hearing Officer made a finding that NDCS had violated the labor contract by denying Amanda’s request because she was overtime exempt. This decision reinforces the fact that exempt employees have the same contractual right to flex time as their non-exempt colleagues. In effect, Amanda used the grievance process to enforce this right for all overtime exempt employees.
If you or a colleague are unreasonably denied the right to flex your schedule, it’s important to step up and enforce the contract like Amanda did. Grievances must be filed within 15 work days of the denial, so be sure to contact us for assistance right away.