Key factors for appeal
What Factors Improve the Chances of a Successful Appeal?
Most work schedule disputes occur because local management refuses to entertain a request by a professional work unit to establish a new work schedule, typically a modified work week (MWW). Employer's objections usually boil down to these:
- Licensed professionals' functions are too specialized; when an employee is ‘flexing’ under a MWW, others cannot provide adequate backup;
- MWWs are counterproductive: ‘flexdays’ frustrate and alienate managers, clients and customers by decreasing employee availability. For these reasons MWWs reduce efficiency and service. The advantages of longer work days do not offset the disadvantages of fewer days.
Work schedule arguments succeed to the extent employees are able to persuade the employer — or the joint committee, as the case may be — that such management worries can be remedied. Members have succeeded where they could establish that adequate backup is available, that a MWW schedule can provide adequate coverage, that real efficiencies can be created, and that reasonable client or customer concerns can be accommodated.
To succeed, work schedule appeals must satisfy the employer — or the joint committee — that the schedule meets the seven criteria described above. Without answering bona fide management objections substantially and credibly, appeals will have no better prospects in a joint committee hearing than they do in the boss's office. It is not enough to simply reject employer concerns. To persuade the joint committee — and particularly the chairperson — employees must be able to show that legitimate management issues can be addressed and accommodated consistent with the seven criteria.
Where members fail in an attempt to resolve a work schedule dispute by discussions with local management, the members can ask the PEA to take the dispute before the joint work schedule committee.
Ideally, appeals should reflect the unanimous views of all PEA members employed in the work unit seeking a ruling. The Article 13 language establishing the right to mutual determination of work schedules and to refer disputes to the joint committee invests these rights in the work unit — the work unit's PEA contingent as a group — rather than in individual employees. It is desirable not only that all PEA members are a party to the appeal but also that they agree that one schedule pattern should apply to the entire work unit. If members themselves are divided on the issue of what schedule should be established, or whether an appeal should be pursued at all, it is easy to speculate why the employer might have reservations too. Management typically — and not surprisingly — prefers to have a single schedule pattern, rather than a mix of two or more, because it is administratively easier.
The heart of any appeal is the ability to prove that the proposed schedule is consistent with the rules established in Article 34.01 (h) (v), the ability to demonstrate that the target schedule will not just suit employees, but also benefit the employer by enhancing the services produced in the work unit. Appeals do not succeed without showing that a new schedule is likely to improve service and productivity as well as employee morale.