What Is a Split Shift?

Put simply, a split shift refers to when a worker decides to work a certain number of hours in two different shifts on the same day.

By contrast, most employees will work one shift in a day and take an assigned number of breaks.

Split shifts tend to be most common in the retail and hospitality industries, where the workplace is open for many hours a day – and in some cases, 24 hours a day.

Sometimes, employers offer split shifts to make sure that they aren’t overstaffed when their business is quiet. For example, a restaurant has a very distinct set of busy periods at mealtimes. In this scenario, employees may be offered split shifts so that the business can run more effectively and with better profits at these peak times.

Generally speaking, when an employee works a split shift, they will not be paid for the time that they have between shifts

What Does a Split Shift Look Like?

Using our restaurant example from above, an employee might work the lunchtime shift of 11am – 2pm, and then another shift from 4pm – 9pm. This allows employees to work at the peak times for that business.

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Split Shifts?

Many employees who work split shifts will do so to achieve a better work-life balance.

That said, it reduces an employee’s ability to work the more common 8-hour shift.

Split shifts can also be a disadvantage for employees who have a long commute, as it often results in the employee having to stay on-site during their unpaid hours, or waste twice as much time commuting.

How to Handle Split Shifts

As an Employee

You need to make sure that you’re happy working split shifts. We’ve mentioned some of the advantages above, and you may also be entitled to better pay for split shifts, but you need to make sure that it works for you and your lifestyle.

As an Employer

Employers need to be considerate, and they need to be familiar with the laws around split shifts. Trying to force split shifts on unwilling workers can lead to a higher staff turnover – which can hurt your bottom line.


See our full list of over 50 Small Business Terms here


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