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Four-Day Workweek Considerations

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Districts operating on a four-day workweek face challenges and questions about how to adapt personnel practices to ensure compliance with state and federal law.

Transitioning to a four-day workweek requires an adjustment to accounting for employee use of state leave and ensuring supervisors understand the overtime rules of the Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA). While these aren’t the only issues of concern, these are two of the areas HR administrators and professionals ask about most often.

State Personal Leave

Texas Education Code § 22.003 provides each district employee five days per year of state personal leave. The school board may adopt policy governing the use of an employee’s state personal leave, and administration provides additional guidance in regulations. When the law became effective in 1995, the five days were intended to provide employees with a week of paid leave per year.

Districts may prorate state personal leave only when an employee begins employment after the start of the year or if termination occurs before the end of the year. Proration calculations should be based on the total workdays for each employee. Other provisions for adjusting the allotted days are not addressed in law, so districts that move to a four-day workweek are still required to provide the five days to all regularly employed workers.

Two key provisions guide how leave will be recorded. The first — the definition of leave day — is found in local policy and establishes the value of a leave day for purposes of earning, using, or recording leave. It is defined as the number of hours per day equivalent to the employee's usual assignment, whether full-time or part-time. This definition is recommended to ensure part-time employees receive the required five days of leave.

The second key provision for leave administration is how leave will be recorded. This is addressed in administrative regulations or procedures. Districts typically use hourly or half-day increments, which may be applied to all employees or may be different by employee group.

Some districts only work four days a week while others may have an optional full- or half-fifth day interspersed in their work calendar. Districts that have a four-day instructional week and a partial workday on a Friday must determine how to account for leave on the shortened day. If leave is recorded in hourly increments, actual hours missed would be accurately accounted for. For employees required to use the half-day increment option, determining how much leave to deduct may be more challenging. One option is to record one half-day of leave or if the schedule is more than half the regular workday, record one full day.

FLSA Compliance

The FLSA requires an employer to establish the workweek for purposes of determining overtime. It must include seven consecutive 24-hour periods. A four-day workweek doesn’t impact or change the definition found in local policy. Nonexempt employees must still be paid an hourly wage and receive an overtime premium for any hours worked over 40 in a workweek.

If a four-day workweek requires nonexempt employees to work a longer day, overtime is still only required when the total number of hours for the week exceeds 40. HR or payroll should ensure that supervisors understand basic overtime rules and manage compliance appropriately.

Multiple Considerations

Leave administration and FLSA compliance are only two of the HR issues districts need to consider when transitioning to a four-day workweek. FLSA rules provide the best guidance and are very straightforward. Additional details are available in The Administrator’s Guide to the Fair Labor Standards Act, available for purchase in the TASB Store.

Unfortunately for leave administration, there isn’t clear guidance on how to apply leave. Best practice would be to ensure procedures are most advantageous to the employee, rather than the district. More information on recording leave and administrative options can be found in the HR Services article Changing Leave Increments.

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April Mabry
April Mabry
TASB HR Services Assistant Director

April Mabry oversees HR Services training services, member library products, and the HRX newsletter. She has provided HR training and guidance to Texas public schools  since 1991. Mabry was a classroom teacher for 11 years in Texas and Michigan.

Mabry has a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Michigan and certification as a professional in human resources (PHR) and is a SHRM-CP.

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TASB HR Services supports HR leadership in Texas schools through membership offerings in specialized training, consulting, and other services.
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