Scheduling Tips for Night Shifts

Dispatch operations, medical facilities, hospitals, transportation, manufacturing plants, utility companies, and other businesses that operate 24/7 or schedule maintenance after hours must schedule employees to work night shifts. There are many factors to consider to ensure that employees are scheduled correctly to provide the needed shift coverage, don’t have conflicting shifts, receive the required rest period between shifts, and are properly compensated. There are federal and state laws to consider as well.

Within the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA), night work payment terms are set between the employer and the employee. The FLSA does not require a higher pay for night work. If, however, the work performed at night is overtime, then employees must be compensated time and one-half. Some states have their own laws in regard to night shifts and overtime arrangements. It is important to investigate and follow the regulations that apply to your business. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not have specific standards for unusual shifts, but they do recommend giving employees necessary breaks, and ensuring that the night shift is staffed adequately so employees are able to take the breaks they need to stay alert.

5 tips to help your employees adjust to night shifts

  1. Have a designated quiet area where employees can take their breaks.
  2. Recommend investing in blackout curtains, and earplugs to workers so they get sufficient rest during the day.
  3. Provide healthy and energizing food and beverage options in the employee break room during the night shift to keep their body fueled.
  4. Encourage night shift employees to get home safely. Have them arrange for a friend, family member, or taxi to take them home if they are too tired to drive.
  5. Have direct supervisors check in regularly with employees that are new to the night shift. Some people adjust much more quickly to night shifts than others. It can take a few days for some workers and a few weeks for others to adjust fully.

A combination of the right schedule, the right number of workers, and proper directions from management is key to running a successful shift work operation.

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