The term split shift is one that is commonly spoken about by those who take advantage of the benefit. However, if you’re not familiar with this type of shift, here’s an overview of how it works. A split shift is one in which a worker chooses to fulfill their work hours in two shifts. Whereas, typically most employees prefer to work consecutive hours with assigned breaks.
The main benefit that a split shift provides is the ability to work on a flexible schedule. Employees who prefer this type of schedule can manage their work-life balance more effectively. However, the downside to the split shift schedule is the inability to work consistently for eight hours or more when desired.
The California Department of Industrial Relations Section 4(C) related to the Public Housekeeping Industry provides instructions regarding how split shifts are to be paid. The statute mandates that a split shift worker must be compensated for their work based on minimum wage pay rates for at least 60 minutes or more for the same day.
The only exception to this rule is when a worker’s housing is at the same location where he or she works. Although this statute is applicable to California, split shifts are available through any employer who provides this type of scheduling.
Issues about split shift scheduling have been taken to court periodically due to disagreements about how employees should be paid. One particular case involved a lawsuit that was filed against an employer. A couple of workers expressed that they had not been paid extra wages for time spent at one and a half hour meetings which were not on their regular schedule.
The employees did not work after the meetings concluded. Although attendance was required, the employer viewed their time spent at the meetings as reporting time pay which is based on compensating employees who have worked at least two hours.
However, the employees were only paid for a portion of the time spent at the meetings. The court ruled in favor of the employer due to the terms in the statute. While this payment method seems unfair, the same stringent ruling was applied to another claim that was brought before the court by other employees who also attended the meeting but worked on the same days.
The second group of employees wanted shift premiums along with their normal pay. Contrary to the employees’ expectation about their anticipated pay premiums, the court concluded that shift premiums could not be allocated due to their base pay being above minimum wage. This example shows how split shift scheduling and pay can be difficult to manage when clear details are not provided to ensure that employees understand how the process works.
When Split Shift Scheduling Does Not Work Harmoniously
Split shift scheduling does not always work to an employee’s advantage especially if they work in a low wage service industry. The uncertainty of earning sufficient income can cause contention when split shift scheduling is required instead of being preferential.
The inability to manage a family with higher wages that are associated with working regular consecutive shifts becomes a challenge that is difficult to bear. However, the legislative effort has been made to provide more security for workers in service business sectors. Democratic leaders presented a bill named Schedules That Work Act.
The advocacy of the bill was based on how challenging split shift work hour arrangements can be when workers are treated like second-class employees. Endorsed by numerous activist and labor groups, The Schedules That Work Act is waiting for an agreement to be implemented in all states.
However, several states have already taken the initiative to pay workers according to legal standards. This progress indicates that the acquisition of adequate work hours is an important issue particularly when production demands are not decreasing.
This struggle to establish schedule stability also reveals how some employers are not cognizant of the economic needs of their workers. Split shift scheduling not only causes disruptions in workers’ incomes, but the economy also experiences a jolt when customer purchasing is low.
Although the number of workers who have regular working schedules exceeds those who work split shifts, the number of workers in the latter group is significant enough to make changes so that they can earn sufficient income. When a survey was given to employees who work fluctuating schedules to find out their opinions about a split shift, the results revealed that 15% had scheduling preference capability while others were forced to work prearranged schedules.
This lack of communication can easily contribute to low employee morale especially if workers can’t meet their financial obligations because of fluctuating work schedules. Although those who work split schedules may have access to a wide range of hours, the guarantee of achieving higher income cannot always be relied on. The likelihood of having a normal work life is unlikely when managers fail to implement effective schedule management strategies.
Effective Management of Split Shift Scheduling
In an effort to boost employee morale and productivity, employers can improve scheduling procedures. One method is to allow HR staff to work with managers to ensure that all federal work scheduling guidelines are being followed. If noncompliant scheduling practices have been brought to company leadership’s attention, initiatives should be developed to help managers understand the protocol of effective scheduling. For example, HR can hold scheduling meetings which can educate managers about federal pay regulations and company pay procedures.
This can help reduce the frustration that may arise when employees inquire about hourly payments. Meetings can also be arranged to meet with employees to ensure that they have a keen understanding of how split shifts and company pay policy work.
One of the main areas of discussion can be to reiterate to managers how important it is to provide information about structured schedules early. This will allow workers enough time to schedule their family obligations and perhaps secure additional employment if needed. Emphasis can also be made to help managers plan ahead. This would involve projecting department production needs. If a business’ busiest service times are during the evening, encourage managers to schedule split shift employees around that time to increase their income.
For example, choose consecutive days such as Thursday through Sunday with ample breaks included. Management can also be encouraged to gather feedback from employees regarding ways split shift scheduling can be improved. If inquiries are made by management regarding the needs of each employee, dissension will likely decrease. The improved communication can be a catalyst by which managers and employees can have an open relationship regarding production and work-life balance needs.
Shift Changes That Work for Everyone
While legislative action has been made to give underemployed workers a stronger voice in obtaining equal scheduling rights, employers and HR staff can take further action by involving employees in the scheduling process. Shift and wage complaints have garnered a significant amount of attention because of the inability for many workers to sustain a viable income.
Although laws have been established to protect employee rights and safety, more action needs to be taken to make sure all companies help employees obtain the hours they need. HR can help lead the way by evaluating current scheduling problems and create work schedule examples that are congruent with organizational and workforce needs.