Sunday working and night working

Shift work involving Sunday/night work

Guide

If your staff work Sunday or evening hours, you'll need an appropriate shift pattern for them.

Paying shift workers

There are a variety of ways of paying shift workers, including:

  • flat-rate allowances per hour, shift or week, in addition to basic day rates
  • fixed percentage additions to the day-work rates
  • basic rates of wages with shift workers getting a higher rate than day workers
  • paying a standard annual amount to all employees working that particular shift
  • extra allowances for hours worked outside the normal daily hours

For more information on paying shift workers, see terms and conditions for Sunday and night workers.

Which shift system to employ

Although it is not required by law, taking workers' preferences into account when arranging shift patterns can help with staff recruitment and retention and increase business productivity.

Consider the type of shift system to be used, including the hours it covers, and the average weekly hours to be worked by each person.

Also consider whether the shift will be a fixed or rotating system. If shifts rotate, decide whether the direction should be 'backwards' (nights, afternoons, mornings) or 'forwards' (mornings, afternoons, nights).

Once this is established, decide the frequency of shift changes, the length of shifts and the number of crews required. You can then plan rest periods and work out the type of shift.

Common shift patterns

Some common shift patterns are:

  • double day shift - two crews to cover any daily period between 16 and 24 hours
  • day and night shift - two crews alternate day and night shifts, weekly or fortnightly
  • three shift discontinuous - three shift crews provide 24-hour cover for five days
  • seven-day continuous shift - one week of mornings, afternoons or nights
  • permanent night shift - workers spend their whole working time on nights
  • four crew continuous shift - four crews switch between morning, afternoon and night shifts over a four-week cycle
  • 12-hour continuous shift - three, four, or five crews do 12-hour shifts and get more rest days in return