How Many Types of Work Shifts Does Your Small Business Need?

To operate your business, you may need employees working varied hours in the day. Some industries and positions require different types of work shifts outside typical business hours. What shifts do you need employees to work in your small business?

Types of work shifts

Your business’s work shifts may depend on factors like your industry, company needs, and hours of operation.

Work schedules extend beyond first, second, and third shifts. Take a look at the following types of shifts, common hours, and examples of jobs that use these shifts.

types of work shifts infographic (first, second, third, fixed, rotating, split, on-call, and weekday/weekend shift)

1. First shift

Employees who work the first shift, or day shift, work during the day and have evenings and nights off.

First shift positions typically work during regular business hours. Generally, employees who work first shift hours start work at or after 7:00 a.m. and leave at or before 5:00 p.m. Common first shift work hours include 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. or 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Here are some first shift work examples:

  • Sales positions
  • Administrative positions
  • Human resources positions
  • Customer service positions
  • Bank teller positions

Keep in mind that the above examples aren’t exclusively first shift positions. For example, you may need some customer service representatives to work first shift and others to work second shift.

If your company operates during regular business hours, you might require employees to work first shift. Or, you may need employees to come in earlier or stay later than hours of operation, depending on your business’s needs.

2. Second shift

Also called swing or afternoon shift, second shift hours may overlap with both first and third shifts. Second shifters have mornings and nights off from work.

These positions can vary. Some second shifters come into work around 11:00 a.m. while others start work around 3:00 p.m. Second shift positions typically end before midnight. Common hours include 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. or 3:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.

Some second shift work jobs include:

  • Quality control positions
  • Nurse positions
  • Call center positions
  • Food service positions
  • Retail positions

If you need employees to work second shift, consider offering a shift differential. A shift differential is higher pay employees earn for working a non-first shift position. Shift differentials aren’t required, but they can help you attract and retain employees.

3. Third shift

Third shift positions are also called grave, midnight, or night shifts. Employees who work third shift start work at night and leave work in the morning.

An employee working third shift might start work around 11:00 p.m. or midnight and work until seven or eight in the morning.

Take a look at some third shift position examples:

  • Firefighter positions
  • Police officer positions
  • ER doctor positions
  • Hospitality positions
  • Custodian positions

Like second shift positions, you might consider providing a shift differential for third shifters.

*Heads up! Daylight savings time could impact night shift workers. So, do night shift workers get paid for daylight savings? During spring forward, third-shift employees lose an hour of work. During fall back, third-shift employees gain an hour of work.

4. Fixed shift

You might need your employees to work consistent shifts throughout the week. A fixed shift is when an employee works the same hours on first, second, or third shift.

Fixed shifts do not mean all your employees work at the same time. You can have some employees work one set of hours and other employees work different hours.

5. Rotating shift

A rotating shift, or rotational shiftwork, is when an employee works inconsistent hours throughout the week. You may need an employee to work first shift one day and second shift the next.

Some employers use rotating shifts so employees can change up their work hours from day to day. That way, the same employees don’t work second shift every day.

For example, an employee might work first shift on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and second shift on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

6. Split shift

A split shift is another type of work shift your employees may have. Under a split shift schedule, an employee works two shifts during the day.

Employees who work split shifts might work for a few hours, take a significant break, then work the rest of their shift. Lunch breaks do not count as a substantial break.

For example, a waitress who works a split shift might work from 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

7. On-call shift

Employees who work on-call shifts must be available to work if you need them. Generally, employees working on-call shifts also work regular shifts.

You may or may not have to pay employees working on call if they don’t work during their shift. On-call shifts are popular in emergency rooms and among IT technicians.

8. Weekday or weekend shift

Do you need employees to work during the week, on the weekend, or both?

As with second and third shifts, you might consider offering a shift differential to employees who work on the weekend.

Need an easy way to keep track of employee hours? Track employee attendance with Patriot’s online time and attendance software. And, the time and attendance software add-on integrates with Patriot’s payroll. Get your free trial of both today!

This is not intended as legal advice; for more information, please click here.

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