Most Federal Employees on the Job 40 Hours or More Weekly

Tighter Controls Among Proposals for Those Who Work Less Gao ID: FPCD-79-24 May 21, 1979

In order to determine the extent of compliance with federal workday requirements, a study plan was devised using two approaches: (1) a questionnaire was sent to a random sample of 3,500 civilian employees from seven of the largest federal agencies; and (2) interviews with 238 personnel officers, managers, and union representatives were conducted at 29 locations. Return rates for the questionnaire were above 80 percent. GAO studied only the time spent at the workplace, and not the productive use of that time.

Of the questionnaire respondents, 75 to 83 percent worked at least 40 hours per week, 18 to 27 percent worked 41 to 70 hours, and 17 to 26 percent worked 33.5 to 39.9 hours. Extended lunchbreaks appeared to be the most frequent abuse, particularly in urban locations where eating facilities were often congested. Supervisors generally did not place high priority on monitoring work hours for the following reasons because they: (1) trusted employees to follow policy; (2) believed most employees worked 40 hours a week and made up any lost time; and (3) believed deadlines were met. Two major issues that appeared to be emerging were: the length of the workweek and its effect on employment and productivity; and the focus of Government control.


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