Split Shift

First published on Thursday, Nov 10, 2022

Last updated on Thursday, Nov 10, 2022

If you are a business that has rush periods throughout the day and employees sitting idle during the quiet periods, you can easily implement a split shift schedule.

Split shifts are a great way to divide the employee’s work into those different periods throughout the day.

In this guide, we’ll explain what split shifts are, how they work, and the benefits of utilizing them in your business.

What is a Split Shift?

The definition of a split shift is when you split an employee’s shift into two or more parts during the day.

A shift that is from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with an hour break in between is not considered a split shift. They typically occur where there is at least a two-hour break between shifts.

How Does a Split Shift Work?

Split shifts are generally broken up into two shifts during one workday. Instead of working a full day with a short break(s) in between, the employee will work two shorter shifts and typically have a longer break.

Examples of Split Shifts

Your employees will generally be scheduled during the business’ busiest times. Shift split examples include:

  • Restaurants: The employee may work from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. (lunch rush) and again from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. (dinner rush) as these times are typically the busiest.
  • Call Centre: The employee may work from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. and again from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. to give employees who are continuously on phone calls time to rest.
  • Bus Drivers: The employee may work from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. picking up students and then again from 2:00 until 4:00 p.m. dropping them off.

Who Initiates Split Shifts?

Generally, the employer and employee agree to a split shift at the commencement of the employment relationship. This is typically communicated to the employee during the interview stage or when the employee is signing the employment contract.

There are also times when a split shift can be agreed upon during employment. Be aware that changing the employee’s hours of work may be considered a fundamental change to the employment contract and they may require consideration before accepting the change.

You must never make changes to an employee’s contract without consulting them. This is a breach of contract and may lead to claims being made against you.

Are Split Shift Employees Entitled to Premium Pay?

According to employment standards legislation, employers aren’t entitled to pay employees split shift premium pay or additional compensation. There is also no special split shift pay for employees.

Employers can choose to pay employees split shift pay. If you choose this option, it must be included in their contract. Employers are not required to pay the employee during their time off in between shifts.

It is important to remind employees that this gap between shifts is not a meal break or a lunch break.

How Many Hours Can my Employee Work on a Split Shift?

The number of hours your employees work during a split shift depends on the needs of your business. Generally, employees are entitled to at least eight hours in between shifts, except if there is a split shift agreement between the employer and the employee.

However, there are still provincial and federal rules you must follow regarding rest between shifts.

In Ontario, an employer must give an employee a period of at least eight hours rest from work between shifts. This is unless the total time between the shifts does not exceed 13 hours.

For example, you can assign a split shift of two, three hours shifts with a two-hour rest in between. If the total amount of split shift hours worked between the two shifts does not exceed 13 hours in one day, you are allowed to split the shift.

In Alberta, an employer may implement a split shift, but all the work hours must fall within a 12-hour period. For example, you can implement a split shift of four hours each and a three-hour break in between because the total hours of the two shifts and the break fall within 12 hours.

What are the Benefits of Split Shifts?

A split shift schedule is one of the best ways to keep costs at a minimum. By splitting shifts during downtime, you can keep your workforce cost low. It also ensures that you have the right number of employees to work during a busy time.

A split shift schedule can also have a positive impact on work productivity. The longer an employee is working throughout the day, the less productive they may become.

By incorporating split shifts into your workforce schedule, you give your employees a much-needed break. They can rest and refuel in preparation for the second part of their workday. This can be incredibly important in the customer service industry which can be highly demanding.

A split shift schedule can also benefit employees with children or family. Employees taking care of sick family members or picking up young children from school can benefit as they can attend to them during the day without impacting their work hours. This may help with creating a better work/life balance for your employees.

What are the Negatives of Split Shifts?

Unfortunately, there is no schedule that everyone will agree to, including split shifts. There will always be factors that do not suit either the employer or the employee.

One of the most common issues with split shifts is miscommunication. With split shifts, there can be miscommunication as to when employees are to return to the second part of their shift. This can lead to major operative disruption.

Employees who work split shifts may feel that they are at work all the time. Some employees may even commute twice throughout the day which increases their commuting costs. Business peak times may also change on a weekly basis, meaning the start and end times of split shifts may change as well.

Get Advice on Split Shifts with BrightHR

A split shift doesn’t make sense for all businesses. Office environments typically don’t benefit from this type of schedule because there isn’t a lull in activity during certain parts of the day.

But for many industries, split shifts can solve many of the scheduling and cost issues that businesses regularly encounter.

If you need assistance with developing a split shift schedule or require further information about them, 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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