Rota planning and your business

Job flexibility is important for many employees...

Since 30 June 2014, all employees with 26 weeks nonstop service have the legal right to ask for flexible working.

A CIPD study of London workers found that those who work flexibly “are more satisfied with their jobs, feel under less pressure and have better work-life balance.”

Improved customer service is also another plus of flexible working.

Your business is more likely to reap the benefits of flexible and shift work if you get rota planning right.

Issues to consider when rota planning

You should take into account the following practical issues when producing a rota for shift work:

  1. Hours to be covered
  2. Amount of hours each employee will work (shifts should be no longer than 12 hours or eight hours for night workers)
  3. Number of staff needed per shift
  4. Rotation, to make sure everyone gets the same amount of rest
  5. Practicalities of updating a work shift calendar

It’s also vital to be aware of the various labour legislation that governs shift work. These laws include:

  1. The Working Time Regulations (WTR) 1998, which sets out the hourly limits for a working week and night work, paid leave entitlements and, rules for young workers.

  2. Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, which lays down conditions about the well-being and health and safety of workers.

  3. The National Minimum Wage (Amendment) Regulations 2017, which details the minimum hourly pay most staff must receive.

Planning split shifts

A split shift is where work periods are divided during the day, with one or more breaks in between. For example, a chef works a morning shift from 9am-2pm and an evening shift from 4pm-9pm.

The food, hospitality, and transport industries are more likely to use split shifts to cover peak times.

The Health and Safety Executive’s guidance advises that businesses should steer clear of split shifts where possible. That’s because staff who work extended days face a higher risk of exhaustion, if they can’t get home to rest between shifts.

If your business uses split shifts, it’s recommended that you plan for regular breaks. The WTR gives staff the right to a 20-minute rest break every six hours. But, you can allocate shorter and more regular breaks to cut the risk of accidents and keep staff more productive.

Planning overtime

When adding overtime to your staff rota, you have to juggle many moving parts including:

  1. The overtime rate of pay, which is normally one and a half times the basic rate for Monday-Saturday, and double the basic rate for Sundays and bank holidays. However, gov.uk states that “employers don’t have to pay workers for overtime” and “part-time workers may not get overtime pay until they’ve worked over the normal hours of a full-time worker.”
  2. The number of hours that should be worked before overtime is triggered.
  3. Special arrangements for young workers. The limit is 40 hours a week for staff who are under 18.

Absence management

Managing both scheduled and unexpected absence is an essential part of rota planning.

Adult workers are entitled to the following rest and holiday periods:

  1. A 20-minute rest break where more than six hours is worked
  2. Compensatory rest breaks if staff work through a rest period
  3. 11 hours of non-stop rest in 24 hours
  4. A day off each week
  5. 5.6 weeks paid annual leave per year (calculated on a pro rata basis for part-time staff)

Rota planning – the essential skill

The saying: ‘failing to plan, is planning to fail’ applies to creating your shift rota. Sharpening your rota planning skills is getting more important as the demand for flexible working grows. Whether you use spreadsheets, wall charts, calendars or rota planning software such as BrightHR, it’s essential that you have a process in place that’s recognised, understood and adhered to by all staff.


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