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Timeclock Tyranny Isn't So Absolute

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The topic of flexible work schedules typically comes up in discussions of mothers who need to juggle job and family. It's then treated in a way that would make you think most workers punch timeclocks at rigidly fixed hours. In reality, flexible schedules are common, as a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics confirms. And men are a bit more likely than women to have one. Using data from May 2004 on full-time wage and salary workers, the report says 28.1 percent of men and 26.7 percent of women worked a flexible schedule. Such arrangements were more common among whites (28.7 percent) and Asians (27.4 percent) than among blacks (19.7 percent) and Hispanics (18.4 percent). Flexible schedules are much more common now than a couple decades ago: In 1985, 12.4 percent of workers had such an arrangement. The number has actually declined marginally since 2001, when 29.7 percent of men and 27.3 percent of women enjoyed flexible working hours. As you can see from the chart below, the incidence of flexible schedules is remarkably consistent across variations in family status. Apart from workers under 24 (less likely to have flexibility) and those 65-plus (more likely to have it), there's also scant disparity among various age cohorts.