Rotating Shifts

4-on-4-off, day shift, night shift, staggered shift, panama shift, and so on. But, which one is the perfect fit & most beneficial to your business? Find here
  • Author: Siva
  • Last updated: December 9, 2022
  • 5 Minutes
rotating shifts and its statutory laws explained by Papershift

© / Adobe Stock

If you run a business in an industry that works outside the usual 9 to 5 working hours, you may have to be creative when scheduling staff and consider implementing something like a rotating shift system. This may seem like a daunting task but with the right tools, like the ones we provide at Papershift, it doesn’t have to be a costly chore.

In this article, we will discuss exactly what rotating shifts are, how they can be implemented by your business, as well as looking at the many pros of using this type of schedule.

Let’s begin. 

What are rotating shifts?

Definition : Rotating Shifts
In simple terms, a rotating shift schedule is one where an employee’s shifts change from month to month or even week to week. Instead of having a set weekly routine, staff members will work different hours each day, typically having different days off each week.

This type of shift work is common in jobs that don’t have regular 9 to 5 hours.

How does a rotating shift differ from a fixed shift?

The best example of a fixed shift schedule is a typical 9 to 5 office job. Employees work the same hours every week, and their schedule only changes in exceptional circumstances.

By contrast, a rotating shift pattern will see staff working different hours every week with different days off. 

Rotating shifts are often dictated by the needs of the business and may take many forms, for example: 

a. Frequent schedule changes

A frequent schedule change system is one where shifts rotate frequently, usually week by week. This means that an employee who takes more less desirable shifts one week will be given more favourable shifts the following week. Sharing the undesirable shifts equally helps foster team morale.

b. Slow schedule changes

This is similar to a frequent schedule, but shifts rotate less often. Employees will stay on the same schedule for a period of weeks (or even months) before it changes. For example, an employee could work two weeks of night shifts, followed by two weeks of day shifts.

This has the benefit of sharing undesirable shifts and prevents the chaos that frequent schedules can bring. 

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c. Weekend staff scheduling

If employees have to work weekends, it’s worth implementing a weekend schedule. This shares out weekend shifts equally, so each employee gets the same number of weekends off.

This again can help with staff morale and productivity.

d. Fixed and rotating hybrid model

Some workplaces may choose to create a hybrid model, whereby some staff have the same fixed shifts every week and others are on a rotating shift schedule to cover for variations in customer demand. 

This type of scheduling could be particularly useful if a business has busy days and needs extra cover over those periods. 

Famous Shift Patterns
Did you know, some other commonly used famous shift patterns are – 4-on-4-off shift pattern and the Panama shift pattern.

What are the benefits of using rotating shifts?

Rotating shifts have many benefits for staff and management alike. These include:

a. It can help keep businesses running 24/7

For businesses this is by far the greatest benefit. If a company requires its staff to work unconventional hours, a rotating shift schedule is an excellent way to balance the needs of the business with the needs of the staff. It you can help a company keep the lights on at all hours without staff getting burnt out or disgruntled.

b. Better staff learning and development

By implementing a rotating shift schedule, businesses can distribute their most talented employees across the weekly schedule. It also means that less experienced employees get to work with top performers, helping them gain experience and new skills. 

c. Increased productivity and staff morale

Sharing out shifts fairly can help create a sense of camaraderie among employees, which can boost morale and may lead to improved productivity. 

How do I implement a rotating shift schedule?

 Here are a few things you can do to implement a rotating shift schedule within your business:

a. Define your schedule in sections

The first thing you will need to do when looking to implement rotating shifts is to break the working day up into shift-sized chunks. Keep these splits consistent so staff know what hours they will work if they are on a day, evening, or night shift. 

b. Look at implementing a predefined rotating shift pattern

There are many different pre-defined rotating shift patterns that you could implement as an employer. These include:

  1. The 2-shift model
  2. Staggered shifts
  3. The 6-4 schedule
  4. A 4-3 ten-hour schedule
  5. 5-3 5-4 5-3 schedule

The pattern you choose will depend on the type of business you run, so it’s worth doing some research into how other businesses in your industry implement shift patterns before making a decision.

c. Think compliance and schedule breaks as well as leaving enough time between shifts for staff to rest

For adult workers, the law (as set out in the Working Time Directive) states that all employees are legally entitled to one break of 20 minutes if they work more than six hours in any given working day. 

On top of this, the employee must have an 11-hour gap between shifts. Any rotating shift schedule will need to take this into consideration.

Work Break Laws

d. Schedule in advance

Scheduling shifts in advance will allow employees to plan around their work priorities. If a business doesn’t plan in advance, they may find themselves with disgruntled employees that feel frustrated by shifts that are assigned to them at the last minute.

e. Use specialist scheduling software

Many businesses still use spreadsheet software, such as Excel, to manage their team’s schedule. This can be a labour-intensive process. By using specialist employee scheduling software, like the one we sell here at Papershift, a business can save hours of manpower each week.

With our best-selling scheduling software, any business can have a rotating shift schedule ready to go in a matter of minutes. Check it out elsewhere on our website.

In conclusion

Rotating shift schedules give everyone an equal chance to work on preferred or less preferred days and shifts. They provide employees with a better work/life balance and employers with better coverage at busy times.

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Written by Siva

I write & describe the value & benefits delivered by Paperhift's rota planning, staff time tracking, and employee payroll management software. Especially useful for Shift Planners, Rota Managers, Team Admins, and HR Teams :-)