Key to Valid Alternative Schedule: How Workweek, Workday Are Set

Our company has established a 9/80 alternative workweek schedule, but the employees work 44 hours one week and 36 hours the next week. Everything I read limits an alternative schedule to 40 hours per week. Please explain.

It is correct that the election of a valid 9/80 alternative workweek schedule is limited to 40 hours per workweek. A 9/80 schedule is a little different in that the employee works four 9-hour days and one 8-hour day in one workweek and in the next workweek the employee works four 9-hour days with one day off.

All employers are required to designate a workweek and a workday.

• A “workweek” is any seven consecutive 24-hour periods starting on the same calendar day each week.

• A “workday” is any consecutive 24-hour period starting at the same time each calendar day.

The key to establishing a valid 9/80 is to identify a workweek that allows the employee to work 40 hours in each designated workweek. This is accomplished by splitting the day.

One example is to start the 24-hour workday at 12 noon, which results in 4 hours worked in one day and 5 hours worked in the next.

The next step is to choose a workweek. If the one day off is a Friday, for example, the workweek will begin at 12 noon on each Friday and run through 12 noon the next Friday. This method results in a correct 40-hour workweek.

Before establishing this type of 9/80 alternative workweek, review an explanation of this method and a sample calendar on HRCalifornia.

The Labor Law Helpline is a service to California Chamber of Commerce preferred and executive members. For expert explanations of labor laws and Cal/OSHA regulations, not legal counsel for specific situations, call (800) 348-2262 or submit your question at

Staff Contact: Barbara Wilber