Split Shifts: Unlock Balancing Work and Life with Alternating Schedules

Maria Kharlantseva, May 27, 2024
split shifts: unlock flexibility in today’s workforce

In today’s dynamic work environment, split shifts have become a relevant and essential scheduling concept. Understanding split shifts is crucial for both employers and employees as it allows for enhanced flexibility and extended business hours. In this article, we will delve into the meaning of split shifts and see what is a split shift, explore its various forms, and examine the advantages it offers in diverse industries.

What Is a Split Shift and How Does It Differ From Other Work Schedules?

A split shift refers to a work schedule that is divided into two or more segments with a significant break in between. 

Unlike regular shifts that consist of continuous working hours, split shifts allow employees to have multiple work sessions during a day, separated by non-working periods. 

A legitimate split shift requires a minimum time gap of 60 minutes or more between the work chunks. It cannot be merely a meal break that is mandated by employment laws. 

On Monday John is scheduled to work: 8:00 am to 12:00 pm/3:00 pm to 7:00 pm

*John is working a split shift because the break between the work periods is more than 60 minutes. Each work period is more than 2 hours so he’ll get the split shift allowance for each work period.

The essence of a split shift lies in reorganizing the total work hours into distinct blocks, while the overall work duration remains the same. Whether it’s an 8-hour, 10-hour, or any full-time equivalent workday, the total time worked during a split shift remains consistent.

It is also essential to acknowledge the impact of split shifts on employees, especially regarding personal time and potential additional commuting costs. In some jurisdictions, labor laws mandate employers to provide an extra wage, known as a split shift allowance, to compensate workers who undertake split shifts. This allowance serves to address the potential inconvenience faced by employees due to the unconventional work schedule.

Shifts by Everhour provides an intuitive solution for managing employee schedules with ease. From flexible scheduling options to mobile accessibility, it’s the ideal solution for optimizing workforce management in any industry.

Industries that benefit from using split shifts

Split shifts are commonly utilized in various industries where extended operating hours or 24/7 service is required. Some industries that frequently adopt split shifts include:

🛎️ Hospitality: Hotels, resorts, and restaurants often implement split shifts to ensure continuous guest services and to cover various meal periods.

💉 Healthcare: Hospitals, nursing homes, and emergency care centers use split shifts to maintain round-the-clock patient care and accommodate healthcare professionals’ diverse schedules.

🛒 Retail: Large retail outlets, supermarkets, and convenience stores may employ split shifts to cover peak shopping hours and maintain customer service standards which is one of the best retail scheduling practices to ensure optimal efficiency.

🚐 Transportation: Airlines, public transportation services, and delivery companies often utilize split shifts to provide continuous transportation services.

📞 Call centers: To support customer service across different time zones, call centers may employ split shifts for their agents.

🏭 Manufacturing: Factories with continuous production processes might use split shifts to ensure operations run efficiently without disruptions.

💂‍♀️ Security: Security companies often use split shifts to ensure round-the-clock surveillance and protection.

🚑 Emergency services: Police, fire departments, and emergency medical services frequently adopt split shifts to respond to emergencies at any time.

Entertainment: Movie theaters, amusement parks, and entertainment venues may use split shifts to cover extended opening hours.

👵 Healthcare support services: Industries providing in-home care, personal care, or other support services for individuals may utilize split shifts to accommodate clients’ needs.

These industries benefit from split shifts to extend their operational hours, optimize workforce utilization, and maintain high levels of customer service. However, it’s crucial for employers in these sectors to carefully manage split shifts or use pick-up shift apps to ensure employee well-being, compliance with labor laws, and effective communication across shifts.

Common Split Shift Types

1️⃣ One common type of split shift is the Morning-Evening split shift, where an employee works for a few hours in the morning, takes an extended break, and then resumes work in the evening. 

In the restaurant industry, a morning-evening split shift may be used to accommodate peak dining hours. Consider a scenario where a waiter works from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM during the breakfast and lunch rush, and then takes a break until 5:00 PM. They return for the evening shift from 5:00 PM to 10:00 PM to handle the dinner crowd. This split shift ensures that the restaurant has sufficient staff during busy hours and can provide seamless service to customers throughout the day.

In the healthcare sector, specifically in nursing, a morning-evening split shift could be utilized to ensure round-the-clock patient care. For instance, a nurse might work from 7:00 AM to 1:00 PM and then have an extended break until 6:00 PM. They would then resume their shift from 6:00 PM to 12:00 AM, providing continuity of care for patients during both the day and night shifts. 

2️⃣ Another variation is the Day-Night split shift, commonly seen in manufacturing and 24/7 service industries. Employees work during the day, have an extended break, and then return to work during night hours to ensure round-the-clock production or service availability.

3️⃣ Part-Time split shifts are prevalent among retail and hospitality sectors, offering employees the flexibility to work two shorter shifts separated by a break, allowing them to balance work with personal commitments effectively.

Pros & Cons of Split Shifts

Split shifts present various advantages for both employers and employees. They enable businesses to increase coverage and extend operating hours, meeting customer demands effectively. Employees benefit from potential savings in commuting time during off-peak hours. Here are some more pros of using split shifts:

Increased flexibility: Split shifts provide employees with greater flexibility in their work schedules, accommodating personal commitments and preferences.
Efficient staffing: With split shifts, businesses can match employee availability with peak demand periods, ensuring adequate staffing levels during busy times.
Reduced overtime costs: By utilizing split shifts strategically, employers can minimize overtime expenses, especially during periods of fluctuating demand.
Better employee productivity: Rest periods between split shifts can lead to improved employee focus and productivity during working hours.
Enhanced employee satisfaction: Split shifts can improve work-life balance for employees, leading to increased job satisfaction and potentially higher retention rates.
Skill utilization: Split shifts allow employers to assign specific tasks to employees with the most relevant skills, optimizing job performance.

However, split shifts also come with drawbacks. They can negatively impact work-life balance, especially when the break periods are too short to allow meaningful rest or engagement in personal activities. Employees may experience fatigue and reduced productivity, and coordination challenges can arise in aligning schedules with colleagues and family.

Reduced cohesion among teams: Split shifts can lead to less interaction and collaboration among team members, potentially impacting team dynamics.
Scheduling complexity: Managing split shifts requires careful planning and coordination, making scheduling more complex and time-consuming.
Potential overlap and underlap: There is a risk of overlap or underlap in coverage when implementing split shifts, leading to either excess or inadequate staffing.
Employee commuting challenges: Split shifts may result in longer commuting times for employees, affecting their overall work-life balance.
Difficulty in securing part-time staff: Finding employees willing to work split shifts, especially part-time staff, can be challenging, affecting workforce availability.
Potential customer service impact: If not managed well, split shifts could result in reduced service quality during transitions between shifts.

Employers must carefully weigh the pros and cons of using split shifts to ensure that they align with business objectives, employee needs, and customer demands. Proper planning, communication, and consideration of employee well-being are essential to the successful implementation of split shifts.

Do Split Shifts Impact How Much Employees Get Paid?

According to federal laws, employers are obligated to pay their employees at least the fixed minimum wage, which can be either the national or state minimum wage, depending on which one is higher.

In certain businesses that operate during less desirable hours, it is common to offer higher pay rates to weekend or night shift workers as an incentive to make those hours more appealing. This additional pay is known as a shift differential or split shift premium.

However, it is important to note that paying a split shift premium is not a mandatory requirement under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Employers have the discretion to decide whether or not to provide a shift differential for employees working split shifts.

State laws, on the other hand, may have different provisions. For instance, in some states like California, employers are required to pay a split shift premium to employees working split shifts. This means that employees who work split shifts receive extra compensation, which varies depending on state regulations.

It’s worth mentioning that certain exceptions apply to the entitlement of split shift premiums. Employees residing on-site, such as those living in an apartment above the establishment where they work, may not be eligible for these premiums. Additionally, if employees voluntarily take on an extra shift during the same workday, they might not qualify for split shift premiums.

Tips for Successfully Implementing Split Shifts in Your Business

Incorporating split shifts into your business can be a strategic approach to meet fluctuating demands and provide flexibility for both employers and employees. However, effective implementation requires careful consideration and adherence to relevant laws. In this section, we’ll explore essential tips to help you smoothly integrate split shifts into your organization.

🚌 Consider commute time

Before adopting split schedules, it’s crucial to assess how commuting impacts your employees. For some, splitting workdays may not be practical if they have long commutes to work. Take into account factors like time, fuel costs, and the effort associated with multiple commutes to ensure split shifts make sense for your employees.

⚖️ Know local, state, and federal laws

Familiarize yourself with labor laws at the local, state, and federal levels to ensure compliance. While the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act establishes general regulations to prevent employers from exploiting employee schedules, specific laws may vary by location. For instance, California and New York impose split shift premiums. This means you may be required to schedule split shift start/end times within a 24-hour period.

🧾 Keep accurate records

Maintaining meticulous records of all shift activities is essential to meet business needs and adhere to regulations. Ensure accurate calculation of wages and hours by recording:

– Scheduled start and stop times
– Actual start and stop times
– Break times
– Total daily hours
– Total weekly hours

🗣️ Communicate with employees

Transparent communication with your employees is vital when planning split schedules. Notify them well in advance to allow proper planning of personal commitments around work. During the interview process, discuss the possibility of working split shifts with job candidates and clearly outline expectations regarding schedules.

📅 Enhance your scheduling system with Shifts by Everhour

Streamline your shift management process, learn how to schedule shifts, and optimize workforce scheduling with Shifts by Everhour. Our advanced scheduling software empowers employers to effortlessly add and modify shifts for each employee. With real-time shift tracking, you can ensure accurate payroll calculations, making payroll management a breeze.

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Implementing split shifts successfully can lead to improved productivity and employee satisfaction. By considering commute times, understanding relevant laws, maintaining accurate records, and fostering open communication, you can create a well-balanced and efficient scheduling system that benefits both your business and your workforce. Taking the above tips into account will enable you to embrace the advantages of split shifts while mitigating potential challenges.

Maria Kharlantseva

Maria is a proud content guardian with experience working for international teams and projects of different complexities. Maria has a passion for fantasy novels, music, black-and-white films, and nitpicking (because there is always room for improvement!).