The right work shift calendar brings calm to the chaos of organising shift workers.

Matching business needs with your employees’ preferred ways of working is a balancing act. But you can bridge this gap by planning in advance, using a work shift calendar.

How to design a work shift calendar


A properly designed work shift calendar should:

  • Match workloads to staff
  • Help manage staff costs
  • Visible/accurate to help with flexibility and employee retention
  • Keep employees happy and informed
  • Help you comply with legal requirements

Here’s how to cover the areas above when creating your work rota calendar:

  • Measure your work volume by hours, days or seasons to collect information about busy periods.
  • Use the information you’ve gathered to decide shift lengths and allocate staff cover.
  • Develop a work pattern that’s within The Working Time Regulations 1998 (WTR).

Types of work rota calendars


You can choose from a variety of tools when using a work rota calendar to manage employee schedules.

Pen and paper


This traditional approach is about simplicity. All that’s needed is a physical diary and a pen or a pencil.



Another ‘old school’ way of producing employee shift templates is to use a whiteboard, markers, and erasers.

Manual updates are time-consuming and can cause confusion, especially when managing erratic employee shifts or taking on more staff.

Manual rota planning tools can cause headaches when carrying out everyday tasks like:

  • Managing split shifts
  • Contacting employees
  • Allocating overtime



Excel or Google Docs staff schedule templates can be seen as a ‘step up’ from manual calendars. But they also have similar drawbacks.

You’ll need to allocate plenty of admin time to manage your employee schedule using spreadsheets. Formulae can be complex to setup and mistakes can disrupt your shift patterns.

Shift scheduling software

A work rota calendar that forms part of shift scheduling software reduces the time spent on making updates.

Every part of managing staff rotas, including absence management is simpler because:

  • Scheduling issues are automatically flagged.
  • Employees are notified about changes in real-time.
  • Your business has the right amount of cover, at the right time.

There can be a short learning curve when using workforce scheduling software. But, if you choose a software provider like BrightHR, you’ll often have assistance from the software provider to get up and running.

How your work shift calendar helps you meet legal requirements


Whether it’s faulty formulae or manual data input that causes blunders in shift planning, your business could be served with improvement or prohibition notices or a fine up to £5000, for breaking the WTR.

Work rota calendar software often has automatic notifications, to help you remain on the right side of the law.

You could be alerted when your employees are nearing the WTR work limit of an average of:

  • 48 hours per week (unless they’ve opted-out)
  • Eight hours during 24 hours, for night workers

Employees aged 24 and under are entitled to the National Minimum Wage and those over 25 get the National Living Wage.

Shift planning calendar software often triggers a birthday notification when an employee is entitled to a change in pay rates.

HMRC issues fines and could ‘name and shame’ businesses that fail to pay staff at the correct rates.

Joined-up work shift calendars


Managing shifts with rota planning software helps you make informed decisions without the inconvenience of shuffling paper or ‘jumping’ between different systems.

Using a suitable work shift calendar won’t only help your business stay afloat, but will also keep it out of legal hot water.

Learn more about using a work shift calendar with shift planning software.

Related articles

Rota planning

Absence planning for shift workers

Shift work risks

Night shift work


Clocking in systems: here's why your business will benefit

Shift patterns at work

Employee scheduling

How to make a rota

Paid VS free rota software

Why use an online rota?

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