Night Shift

First published on Thursday, Jun 04, 2020

Last updated on Wednesday, Feb 01, 2023

Working night shifts has recently become more common due to more and more businesses operating around the clock. Night shifts can impact an employee’s physical health and create abnormal sleep patterns which may put them or others at risk if not managed properly.

So as an employer, you must manage night shifts correctly in your company.

In this guide, we’ll explain the law regarding night shifts, the side effects employees may experience, and how to manage employees who are working night shifts. #

What is Considered Working a Night Shift?

A night shift is generally considered working overnight until early morning. Night shifts are utilized in various industries and businesses which include:

  • Hospitals.
  • Construction.
  • Grocery stores.
  • Emergency services.
  • Warehouses.
  • Call Centres.

Some industries and businesses operate 24 hours a day to ensure all work is completed and that the public always has access to their services.

Night shifts are governed by employment standards legislation just like any other shifts. Employees are entitled to meal breaks, vacation time, public holidays, and overtime.

Do Night Shift Employees Get Paid More?

The night shift pay rate in Canada is solely governed by the employer. There is no law in Canada that states employees who work night shifts must be paid a premium rate or have an increased salary.

However, many employers do provide additional compensation to employees who work the night shift as it is seen as the least favoured shift. Offering premium pay for night shifts can increase employee morale and make you a more desirable employer.

What are the Benefits of Working Night Shifts?

There are various benefits of working a night shift. One of which is that employees who work the night shift generally receive higher pay or a premium.

Arguably the biggest motivator to work the night shift is that the employee may receive extra pay. If you offer a premium to work night shifts, your employees may strongly consider it.

For example, if you increase a full-time employee’s hourly wage by one dollar (working 40 hours a week), they will make approximately $2,000 more per year.

Another benefit to working night shifts is that there is reduced competition for career advancement. In a shift work environment, daytime employees generally hold higher seniority and more experience. Employees that work night shifts can set themselves apart, as there is less competition.

Employees who work through the night will be asleep during the day while most people will be at work. This may mean that less annual leave may be required for medical appointments.

Employees may also choose to work the night shift if they are required to take care of children. Night shift can help to reduce an employee’s childcare expenses.

What are the Negatives of Working Night Shifts?

As well as benefits, there are also negatives of working night shifts which you need to be aware of.

Working the night shift can have a long-lasting negative effect on an employee’s health, especially sleep deprivation.

Working at night and sleeping during the day is foreign to most people and can be quite difficult. Long periods without proper sleep increases the chance of mistakes, accidents, or injuries at work. This can also lead too:

  • Fatigue.
  • Stress.
  • Lack of motivation.
  • Depression.

Another negative is that it is not the preferred shift. This may lead to a decrease in retention rates. You may be continuously hiring employees because those who work night shifts often leave after a shorter time.

How to Manage Night Shift Work

The side effects of working the night shift can be unbearable for many employees. It is your responsibility to minimize and eliminate all health & safety risks that are associated with working these shifts.

You should implement the following proactive solutions to ensure your employees maintain productivity during their night shift:

  • Keep employees schedule consistent and predictable so they do not have to continuously readjust their sleep schedule.
  • Avoid overtime, double shifts, and permanent night shifts, unless absolutely necessary.
  • Schedule employees strategically and limit consecutive nights to reduce fatigue.
  • Install appropriate lighting to keep employees alert at work.
  • Allow music or ambient noise to keep employees active and reduce tiredness.
  • Implement strategic breaks (including nap breaks) to reduce fatigue.

You can also implement a rotating shift work model where employees switch shifts every two weeks. For example, every two weeks, employees switch from day shift to afternoon shift, and then to night shift.

Properly managing the night shift at work will show how much you care for your employees’ health & safety, which may help reduce employee turnover.

How to Motivate Night Shift Employees

It is important that you constantly engage with your employees who are working the night shift, working through the night can be lonely and tiring. They can fall into bad habits if left unaddressed.

Here are various methods of motivating night shift employees:

  • Encourage Exercise: Physical exercise can boost alertness, especially during the night hours. You can implement exercise breaks throughout the shift to keep employees active. It will also help with their overall fitness and mental health.
  • Provide Healthy Food: Eating throughout an employee’s shift is critical to ensure they have the energy to stay productive. You can keep fruit and veggies easily accessible for employees to eat and avoid junk food such as chips or candy.
  • Consider Paying a Higher Wage: As previously mentioned, one of the most common reasons why employees are agreeable to work night shifts is because many employers pay a premium. Additional money or compensation is a great incentive for night shift employees.
  • Employee assistance programs: You can provide Employee assistance programs (EAP) to help your employees cope with the pressure of working a night shift.

Advice on Managing the Night Shift with BrightHR

There are various strategies that you can implement in your operations that require employees to work the night shift. It is important that you implement safeguards to protect employees from fatigue that could impact their safety.

If you need assistance with managing the night shift at your workplace or tips on how to implement safeguards for your employees, our BrightAdvice service allows you to receive quality advice on any employment issues you may have.

Contact us on 1 888 220 4924 or book a demo today.

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