Can Split Shift Scheduling Work for You?

January 12, 2022 | 198 views

Can Split Shift Scheduling Work for You?
Can Split Shift Scheduling Work for You?

A split shift is a scheduled shift that has a long interruption. It is easy to imagine a restaurant, for example, that schedules staff for lunch and dinner shifts to fulfill customer demand at peak times of the day. It gives an employee a break in the middle of two shorter shifts—the break is longer than a lunch break (often a few hours long). The practice allows managers to customize work schedules to fit times of higher demand without paying an employee for the slower hours between their two busy shifts.

Employee Preferences

Some staff members do not want their day broken up into two separate shifts, even if the total working hours are the same. It can be disruptive and a waste of time commuting to a work site. Those “lost” hours in the day string out their day without fully being paid for all the hours.

Others, however, enjoy the advantages of having time in the middle of the day for doctor appointments or school pick-ups. Running errands or grocery shopping is easier mid-day than during slower commute times. Hourly workers seldom have flexibility during a traditional workday, and they could very well prefer a split shift.

If you can implement split shifts with agreeable employees, it will have some advantages for you, though, that are worth considering.

Employer Plusses

Split shifts do two things: (1) schedule employees based on your business’s actual need and (2) reduce payroll expenses during less productive hours. If your business has clear and consistent waves of customers, you don’t want to be paying for the same level of staffing when it gets quieter. Since labor expense is often the highest business expense, shaving off a few hours a day adds significant cost control savings.

When staff levels are appropriate for busier shifts, customers also benefit. Scheduling employees based on your times of need delivers better customer service. The operation runs smoother while customers receive top-notch attention.

Potential Drawbacks

As with any labor decision, there are potential drawbacks to implementing a split shift schedule for your business. An employee who doesn’t like the schedule will complain or leave. Any unexpected bump in business volume would leave you understaffed and unable to provide your goods or services effectively.

The biggest concern, however, is that employers in most states are required to pay a split shift premium to employees who are pre-scheduled for non-consecutive working hours (even if the employee prefers split shifts). You must diligently investigate your legal requirements to understand the financial impact on your business fully. The money you save on labor will be reduced by split shift premiums, which is usually the cost of one hour’s worth of pay. Each locality determines what that hour might cost (perhaps the state minimum wage or the employee’s hourly rate, for example).

The premium might or might not be counted in total hours, too. So, an employee who works five 8-hour split shifts but gets paid for five extra hours of premium pay gets calculated at 45 hours which, in some states, means 5 hours of overtime. If your area is very labor-friendly, the benefits of using split shift schedules start to erode quickly.

There are exceptions for those working from home or who voluntarily return (unscheduled) for a second shift. There is simply much to consider although the practice of split schedules can be a wise business decision. So also be wise enough to seek good counsel on the potential wage and labor law implications. For many, the split shift schedule will be a way to increase profits and service levels while reducing labor costs.

Author Profile Jon Forknell is the Vice President and General Manager of Atlas Business Solutions, Inc., a software marketing company specializing in employee scheduling software, including ScheduleBase employee scheduling software, and other business software solutions. In the past, Jon has been recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as a SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year. For many years, Atlas Business Solutions has been named one of Software Magazine’s Top 500 Software Companies.

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