1. Money
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Shift Work


Medical records female employee records data

Hospitals Require Shift Work

Randy Plett Photographs

Shift work occurs in a work schedule that utilizes 24 hours a day and occasionally, 7 days a week, to keep an organization operating. Shift work occurs whenever 24 hour coverage is necessary or when a 24 hour day optimizes work output and productivity. Many approaches to shift work exist and each shift work schedule has challenges.

Employees may work 8 hours during a day that features three 8 hour shifts. Or, they may work twelve hours a day for 4 days with the next 4 days off. Employers have experimented with every conceivable form of shift work in their efforts to maximize the potential of their operation. Good employers also consider how to minimize ill effects on their shift workers.

Shift work, in which an employee works the same shift consistently, is usually considered better for employee health and the ability of the employee to develop a fulfilling lifestyle and positive family relationships. Constantly changing shifts disrupt all life patterns. Since evidence exists that shift work, such as working the night shift, can have debilitating health effects, employers must carefully assess the benefits and consequences of how shift work is scheduled.

Who Does Shift Work?

Once considered a manufacturing issue, shift work occurs today in many industries and fields. Law enforcement, military, security, healthcare, retail, restaurants, hospitality, service stations, grocery stores, transportation, fire stations, convenience stores, customer service call centers, newspapers, media, and any facility that houses people 24 hours a day such as prisons and nursing homes, and more, require shift work to keep their operations running.

In all shift work, federal and state labor laws govern topics such as meal periods, minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping and breaks especially for nonexempt employees.

Submit a word for the Glossary | Complete Glossary

Also Known As: day shift, afternoon shift, night shift, graveyard shift, first shift, second shift, third shift, midnight shift

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.