Amazon has been in the headlines a lot lately. First, it announced its intent to hire nearly 70,000 holiday employees, many of whom could become full-time after the holiday season. Now Amazon has made a deal with the United States Postal Service (USPS) to provide its customers with Sunday deliveries. Initially the Sunday delivery service will only be in New York and Los Angeles, but it is expected to expand to other large cities like Phoenix, Dallas, and New Orleans next year.
This is a great opportunity for Amazon to better serve its customers who want or need expanded weekend delivery options. It is also an opportunity for the USPS, who is desperately trying to reduce its financial losses this year and in the future. The USPS is one of a handful of agencies specifically created in the Constitution and is also one of the few agencies that is, more or less, self-funded. This means that the less mail sent through the U.S. Postal Service the smaller the USPS’s budget gets each year. The USPS hopes that Amazon providing Sunday delivery will greatly boost the amount of products shipped through the mail. Over the last year or so, the USPS has been hiring more employees to work “flexible schedules” and there is no need to hire more people, yet. The agency already has some Sunday deliveries with Priority Mail Express, so unless demand for Sunday deliveries is larger than expected, new hiring will likely follow with the expansion of Amazons Sunday delivery cities.
A “normal” work week is 9 to 5, 5 days a week, for a total of 40 hours. Part-time work has fewer hours over the course of a week, but will usually have set start and finish times each day. Flexible schedules, on the other hand, allow for leeway for when an employee arrives and leaves work and occasionally where the employee works, like telecommuting. According to the United States’ Department of Labor, flexible schedules are not addressed by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) which sets hours and wages for traditional schedules. Under the FLSA any employee, with some exceptions, who works more than 40 hours a week is entitled to overtime, overtime is at least “time and a half.” Flexible schedules may still be a 40 hour week, but it may not be 9 to 5 or Monday to Friday or even full 8 hour a days. The fact that FLSA does not address flexible schedules does not mean that the laws do not apply to employers. But, flexible schedules are usually negotiated between the employer and employee and require some adjustments with timekeeping.
The Washington State Legislature found flexible scheduling to be so beneficial that there is a law that encourages state agencies to utilize them. According to their findings, flexible schedules help with traffic congestion and allow for families with two working parents better flexibility with childcare among other things.
Whether you work a traditional schedule or a flexible schedule, if believe you have been denied wages or overtime, contact an HKM employment attorney.