State:

National
Shift operation is a system that allows employers to schedule work around the clock by using the right work organization, supervisory coverage, and pay policies. Shift schedules work best where employees understand and buy in to the operation. While shift operations always involve having employees working outside the normal workday, devising the best shift schedule requires looking beyond the obvious issues of shift duration and time-off scheduling. An economic analysis of the business to determine the best way to deploy resources is the first step when starting or reorganizing shift operations.
Management should define its business needs for instituting or reorganizing shift operations. These may include decreasing costs, increasing production, increasing safety, and improving the deployment of skilled personnel across shifts. Various schedule models can then be devised. Employees can give valuable input on features such as start times, shift lengths, and day-off patterns. In addition to better compensation, shiftworkers desire better days off, better alertness and health, and more predictability in the work schedule. The ideal goal is a schedule that best blends business needs and employee desires.
Extra pay for working weekends or nights is a matter of agreement between the employer and the employee (or the employee's representative). The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require extra pay for weekend or night work. However, the FLSA does require that covered, nonexempt workers be paid not less than time and one-half the employee's regular rate for time worked over 40 hours in a workweek. To make up for the significant interference with their personal lives, shiftworkers are usually rewarded with premium pay (known as shift differentials), reduced hours, or both. Any established premium is considered part of the regular wage and must be included in computing overtime under the FLSA. A 10 percent premium to employees who work second or third shift is not unusual. Figuring shift pay in percentages can be a nuisance, so many companies pay a flat cents-per-hour wage premium.
The simplest shift schedule divides the day into three relatively equal parts. First shift might run from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.; second shift might run from 3 or 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. or midnight; third shift usually begins at 11 p.m. or midnight and ends at 7 a.m. or later. It is important in any system that there be a clear definition of when the workday and workweek begin and end to prevent confusion as to when premium rates apply.
Variations. There are numerous variations on the three-shift system. One common system has shiftworkers working 12 hours per day for three or four days in a row, then having three or four days off. Businesses that operate on a continuous basis may divide the total 168 hours in a week between four shifts that work an average of 42 hours per week plus an additional multipurpose crew to cover gaps and special tasks.
Practice tip: Employers should analyze their workload to determine the number and types of workers needed on a particular shift. An unbalanced schedule may work because more technical, maintenance, and product changes take place during the day shift.
Customer service issues. Analysis of workload is crucial in customer service industries, as shiftworkers with telephone responsibilities interact directly with customers in different time zones and possibly 24 hours a day/seven days a week for those with Internet responsibilities. Therefore, the number of employees needed during each hour of the day and each week of the year should be determined. The average workload, plus possible high and low variations, also should be calculated by taking into account holidays, weekends, and vacations. The goal should be to minimize both idle time and overtime.
Other issues to consider. Other scheduling issues to consider include assigning work in teams that would require consistent scheduling among many employees, using temporary or part-time workers to fill in gaps when work levels increase and, in contrast, ensuring that shifts aren't too sparse.
Time off. A schedule that includes time off, such as extended vacations or long “weekends,” can make shift work an attractive alternative to regular day work. Shift differentials are typically included in holiday and vacation (or other leave) pay.
Shiftworkers not only work at unusual hours, but they also work out of sync with the human body's natural waking and sleeping rhythms. Because of this disruption, shiftworkers have been found to be less productive, be more likely to suffer from a variety of health problems--including ulcers and gastrointestinal disorders, have higher turnover and absenteeism rates, and have more accidents while working and commuting.
There are few tools for finding employees who are best suited for shiftwork. While information is now available about how shiftwork affects individuals health, care must be taken in applying this information to avoid violating the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). Please see the national Disabilities section. Employers may not ask disability-related questions or conduct medical exams before making a job offer. However, after an offer is made, employees may be tested as long as all employees in a particular category are tested. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, an employee may be rejected from a particular job, including shiftwork, for disability or health-related safety reasons, if he or she “poses a significant risk of substantial harm to him/herself or others and the risk cannot be reduced below the direct threat level through reasonable accommodation.” In other words, if an employer cannot reduce the risk through an accommodation, the applicant may be rejected.
Be aware of medical conditions. Individuals supervising shiftworkers should be aware of medical conditions that are likely to be aggravated by shiftwork. While it might be illegal to make hiring and other employment-related decisions based on these conditions, relevant health information can be used for working out the best schedules for particular workers to improve the overall health and safety of the workforce. Medical conditions that have been identified to be worsened by working night shifts include seizure disorders, chronic depression, insulin-related diabetes, severe gastrointestinal disease, and chronic heart disease. Other problem conditions include non-insulin-dependent diabetes, severe thyroid problems, asthma, chronic bronchitis, chronic sleep disorders, cardiac risk factors, depression, mid-level digestive disorders, and alcoholism or drug addiction.
Fixed schedules limit contact between employees who only work nights and managers/supervisors and technical/support staff who only work daytime hours.
Require managers to work at night. If communication between shifts is a problem, your organization should establish a policy that all managers must work 1 or 2 nights per week. On those nights, their hours need not mirror the night shift. Rather, they can come in 4 hours earlier or work 4 hours later--just long enough for them to see how things are going and to deliver news of changes in policies and practices.
Create a daily communications center. Don't rely solely on the night shift supervisor to disseminate information to night workers. Instead, put up a bulletin board in a centralized location that serves as the plant's daily "State of the Union" address. To avoid information overload, post only important items--key production and performance numbers, major policy changes, important company news, etc. Save less significant news--such as minor policy changes and social event announcements--for a separate site.
Hold meetings at night. Meetings with workers should be held before work, even though it means managers have to come in at night. After the night shift, workers are likely to be so exhausted they will miss half of what the manager is telling them.
Seniority-based schedules can leave young, inexperienced workers on the night shift, which may lead to safety and productivity problems. The following approaches may balance the team:
Emphasize training for new hires. With fixed shifts, the importance of front-end training increases. Employers need to make sure new hires receive the training they need to do their jobs, as well as information about coping with the physical and social challenges of working evening and night shifts.
Offer skill-based incentives. Some companies have "pay-for-knowledge" programs in which salaries are based in part on how many jobs an individual can perform. This is a highly effective way to encourage employees to broaden their skills.
Put some experience on the night shift. If skill imbalance is still a problem, an employer will not be able to use a straight seniority-based system in which experienced employees work their way onto the day shift.
One alternative approach is to designate certain key positions as "non-seniority-based." With these jobs, make it part of the institutional policy that working at night is part of the job and that transferring to days is not an option. With such a policy, people won't apply for this job if their goal is to eventually switch to days.
Another possibility is to require day shiftworkers to spend time on the night shift. Depending on the situation, talented, experienced workers might spend a couple of days a month or several weeks a year training less experienced night shift employees. Just make sure to map out the dates for these sessions well in advance so veteran employees can plan accordingly.
A related option is to actually rotate a job slot through the different shifts. Such a system might put an experienced worker on the night shift for a month or two each year.
Employees who perform shiftwork are subject to the same legal protections as other workers. As such, employers must treat them the same. When creating a shift schedule, employers should pay special attention to:
Overtime. The FLSA requires most employers to pay overtime of 11/2 times an employee's regular rate of pay for hours worked over 40 hours in a workweek. This applies to employees working standard and shiftwork hours.
Rest and meal times. Rest periods are not required by federal law but may be regulated by state law. Generally, if rest periods are offered, they must be counted as hours worked. Meal periods are usually not counted as hours worked, but the employee must be completely relieved of all duties in order to have their meal.
Please see the state Rest Periods section.
Practice tip: Every employer should have a written policy concerning the hours of work offered to employees. This is particularly important in a shiftwork environment when employees and/or supervisory staff might be minimal.
Studies have shown that employers with shift operations can operate more profitably by providing assistance to their shift employees. Shiftworkers are apt to have problems sleeping, difficulty finding child care at nontraditional times, less training and supervisory support, and limited access to support departments, including the human resources department. Employers that address these issues can experience lower absenteeism rates, better safety records, and reduced errors at work.
Last updated on February 9, 2016.
Related Topics:
National
Shift operation is a system that allows employers to schedule work around the clock by using the right work organization, supervisory coverage, and pay policies. Shift schedules work best where employees understand and buy in to the operation. While shift operations always involve having employees working outside the normal workday, devising the best shift schedule requires looking beyond the obvious issues of shift duration and time-off scheduling. An economic analysis of the business to determine the best way to deploy resources is the first step when starting or reorganizing shift operations.
Management should define its business needs for instituting or reorganizing shift operations. These may include decreasing costs, increasing production, increasing safety, and improving the deployment of skilled personnel across shifts. Various schedule models can then be devised. Employees can give valuable input on features such as start times, shift lengths, and day-off patterns. In addition to better compensation, shiftworkers desire better days off, better alertness and health, and more predictability in the work schedule. The ideal goal is a schedule that best blends business needs and employee desires.
Extra pay for working weekends or nights is a matter of agreement between the employer and the employee (or the employee's representative). The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require extra pay for weekend or night work. However, the FLSA does require that covered, nonexempt workers be paid not less than time and one-half the employee's regular rate for time worked over 40 hours in a workweek. To make up for the significant interference with their personal lives, shiftworkers are usually rewarded with premium pay (known as shift differentials), reduced hours, or both. Any established premium is considered part of the regular wage and must be included in computing overtime under the FLSA. A 10 percent premium to employees who work second or third shift is not unusual. Figuring shift pay in percentages can be a nuisance, so many companies pay a flat cents-per-hour wage premium.
The simplest shift schedule divides the day into three relatively equal parts. First shift might run from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.; second shift might run from 3 or 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. or midnight; third shift usually begins at 11 p.m. or midnight and ends at 7 a.m. or later. It is important in any system that there be a clear definition of when the workday and workweek begin and end to prevent confusion as to when premium rates apply.
Variations. There are numerous variations on the three-shift system. One common system has shiftworkers working 12 hours per day for three or four days in a row, then having three or four days off. Businesses that operate on a continuous basis may divide the total 168 hours in a week between four shifts that work an average of 42 hours per week plus an additional multipurpose crew to cover gaps and special tasks.
Practice tip: Employers should analyze their workload to determine the number and types of workers needed on a particular shift. An unbalanced schedule may work because more technical, maintenance, and product changes take place during the day shift.
Customer service issues. Analysis of workload is crucial in customer service industries, as shiftworkers with telephone responsibilities interact directly with customers in different time zones and possibly 24 hours a day/seven days a week for those with Internet responsibilities. Therefore, the number of employees needed during each hour of the day and each week of the year should be determined. The average workload, plus possible high and low variations, also should be calculated by taking into account holidays, weekends, and vacations. The goal should be to minimize both idle time and overtime.
Other issues to consider. Other scheduling issues to consider include assigning work in teams that would require consistent scheduling among many employees, using temporary or part-time workers to fill in gaps when work levels increase and, in contrast, ensuring that shifts aren't too sparse.
Time off. A schedule that includes time off, such as extended vacations or long “weekends,” can make shift work an attractive alternative to regular day work. Shift differentials are typically included in holiday and vacation (or other leave) pay.
Shiftworkers not only work at unusual hours, but they also work out of sync with the human body's natural waking and sleeping rhythms. Because of this disruption, shiftworkers have been found to be less productive, be more likely to suffer from a variety of health problems--including ulcers and gastrointestinal disorders, have higher turnover and absenteeism rates, and have more accidents while working and commuting.
There are few tools for finding employees who are best suited for shiftwork. While information is now available about how shiftwork affects individuals health, care must be taken in applying this information to avoid violating the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). Please see the national Disabilities section. Employers may not ask disability-related questions or conduct medical exams before making a job offer. However, after an offer is made, employees may be tested as long as all employees in a particular category are tested. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, an employee may be rejected from a particular job, including shiftwork, for disability or health-related safety reasons, if he or she “poses a significant risk of substantial harm to him/herself or others and the risk cannot be reduced below the direct threat level through reasonable accommodation.” In other words, if an employer cannot reduce the risk through an accommodation, the applicant may be rejected.
Be aware of medical conditions. Individuals supervising shiftworkers should be aware of medical conditions that are likely to be aggravated by shiftwork. While it might be illegal to make hiring and other employment-related decisions based on these conditions, relevant health information can be used for working out the best schedules for particular workers to improve the overall health and safety of the workforce. Medical conditions that have been identified to be worsened by working night shifts include seizure disorders, chronic depression, insulin-related diabetes, severe gastrointestinal disease, and chronic heart disease. Other problem conditions include non-insulin-dependent diabetes, severe thyroid problems, asthma, chronic bronchitis, chronic sleep disorders, cardiac risk factors, depression, mid-level digestive disorders, and alcoholism or drug addiction.
Fixed schedules limit contact between employees who only work nights and managers/supervisors and technical/support staff who only work daytime hours.
Require managers to work at night. If communication between shifts is a problem, your organization should establish a policy that all managers must work 1 or 2 nights per week. On those nights, their hours need not mirror the night shift. Rather, they can come in 4 hours earlier or work 4 hours later--just long enough for them to see how things are going and to deliver news of changes in policies and practices.
Create a daily communications center. Don't rely solely on the night shift supervisor to disseminate information to night workers. Instead, put up a bulletin board in a centralized location that serves as the plant's daily "State of the Union" address. To avoid information overload, post only important items--key production and performance numbers, major policy changes, important company news, etc. Save less significant news--such as minor policy changes and social event announcements--for a separate site.
Hold meetings at night. Meetings with workers should be held before work, even though it means managers have to come in at night. After the night shift, workers are likely to be so exhausted they will miss half of what the manager is telling them.
Seniority-based schedules can leave young, inexperienced workers on the night shift, which may lead to safety and productivity problems. The following approaches may balance the team:
Emphasize training for new hires. With fixed shifts, the importance of front-end training increases. Employers need to make sure new hires receive the training they need to do their jobs, as well as information about coping with the physical and social challenges of working evening and night shifts.
Offer skill-based incentives. Some companies have "pay-for-knowledge" programs in which salaries are based in part on how many jobs an individual can perform. This is a highly effective way to encourage employees to broaden their skills.
Put some experience on the night shift. If skill imbalance is still a problem, an employer will not be able to use a straight seniority-based system in which experienced employees work their way onto the day shift.
One alternative approach is to designate certain key positions as "non-seniority-based." With these jobs, make it part of the institutional policy that working at night is part of the job and that transferring to days is not an option. With such a policy, people won't apply for this job if their goal is to eventually switch to days.
Another possibility is to require day shiftworkers to spend time on the night shift. Depending on the situation, talented, experienced workers might spend a couple of days a month or several weeks a year training less experienced night shift employees. Just make sure to map out the dates for these sessions well in advance so veteran employees can plan accordingly.
A related option is to actually rotate a job slot through the different shifts. Such a system might put an experienced worker on the night shift for a month or two each year.
Employees who perform shiftwork are subject to the same legal protections as other workers. As such, employers must treat them the same. When creating a shift schedule, employers should pay special attention to:
Overtime. The FLSA requires most employers to pay overtime of 11/2 times an employee's regular rate of pay for hours worked over 40 hours in a workweek. This applies to employees working standard and shiftwork hours.
Rest and meal times. Rest periods are not required by federal law but may be regulated by state law. Generally, if rest periods are offered, they must be counted as hours worked. Meal periods are usually not counted as hours worked, but the employee must be completely relieved of all duties in order to have their meal.
Please see the state Rest Periods section.
Practice tip: Every employer should have a written policy concerning the hours of work offered to employees. This is particularly important in a shiftwork environment when employees and/or supervisory staff might be minimal.
Studies have shown that employers with shift operations can operate more profitably by providing assistance to their shift employees. Shiftworkers are apt to have problems sleeping, difficulty finding child care at nontraditional times, less training and supervisory support, and limited access to support departments, including the human resources department. Employers that address these issues can experience lower absenteeism rates, better safety records, and reduced errors at work.
Last updated on February 9, 2016.
CT-WEB06
Copyright © 2017 Business & Legal Resources. All rights reserved. 800-727-5257
This document was published on https://Compensation.BLR.com
Document URL: https://compensation.blr.com/analysis/Variable-Pay/Shift-Operation/