Types of Work Schedules

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There are several different types of work schedules. Work schedules vary based on the organization and the job. The type of schedule required for a job is often listed in the job posting or explained during a job interview. However, if you’re not clear about the hours it’s a good idea check with the employer prior to accepting a job offer.

For example, I know someone who accepted a salaried job where she expected to work 40 hours per week only to find out that the expectation was for 50.

On the flip side, I know someone who accepted a job that he expected to be 25 – 30 hours a week. The employer scheduled him for 8 – 10 hours, and even less some weeks. It makes sense to know what is expected in advance, rather than being surprised after you start a new position.

Types of Work Schedules

Fixed Work Schedule: A fixed work schedule is a timetable that generally consists of the same number of hours and days worked per week. Fixed work schedules tend to stay consistent once the number of hours and days have been agreed upon by both the employer and the worker. An example of a fixed schedule would be Monday - Friday from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM or Thursday - Sunday 3:00 PM to 11:00 PM.

Flexible Work Schedule: Flexible work schedules are less rigid than fixed schedules Employees and employers work together to determine the number of hours and days of the week they are able to commit to.

Depending on the employer’s policy, employees may be expected to work a minimum number of hours or be at work at a certain daily block of time, but shifts can often be “switched” with other coworkers in order to satisfy the needs of the employer and the busy life of the employee. Flexible work schedules can vary infinitely, but an example might look like: Monday 9:00 AM - 12:30 PM, Tuesday 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Saturday and Sunday 2:00 PM to close.

Full Time Work Schedule: Full time work schedules often require a commitment of 37 - 40 hours per week. Because of the long hours, most careers with full time schedules are eligible for work benefits. These benefits can include leave, vacation and sickness, health insurance, and different retirement plan options. Full-time schedules can vary from company to company, but the shift the employee must work is usually the same. The most common full time work schedule is normally a variant of 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM Monday - Friday, adding up to 40 hours.

For full-time non-exempt workers, overtime pay occurs when hours worked exceed the established 40 hour maximum. Overtime is paid at a minimum of base hourly pay plus a half of that base pay, also known as “time and a half.” While most full time work schedules are normally the same shift each day, in some cases like retail or smaller boutique stores, shifts can vary, but the number of hours will still add up to 35 - 40. Salaried, exempt employees also maintain a full time schedule, but tend to be compensated at a higher rate, and are not generally eligible for overtime.

Part Time Work Schedule: A part time work schedule is any schedule less than full time employment.

The benefit of this type of schedule is that it allows for greater flexibility to maintain other responsibilities outside of work.

Part time work often does not include benefits offered to full time employees, and hours can be erratic and inconsistent from week to week. An example of a part time work schedule could be Monday - Wednesday from 7:00 AM to 11:00 AM and Saturday and Sunday 11:00 AM - 7:00 PM.

Rotating Work Schedule: Rotating work schedules cycle employees through day, swing, and night shifts. This cycle helps to distribute different shifts between all employees so that no one is stuck with just the less desirable hours.

This work schedule is not as common but can be seen in many careers like the military, construction work, roadwork jobs, power plants, and hospitals. These shifts can cycle weekly or quarterly, depending on the type of work required.

For many employees, the transition between the different schedules can be tricky. Sleep and eating patterns change and the employee may see their family and friends less because of their rotating schedule.

This type of timetable does have some benefits. Employees are able to spend more time with family and friends during their normal work hours, and may be able to run errands they normally would not be able to complete. Hours can cycle between day shifts (7:00 AM - 3:00 PM), swing shifts (1:00 PM - 9:00 PM), and weekend, night or overnight shifts.

Related Articles: Exempt Employee vs. Non-Exempt Employee | Time and a Half Pay | How Many Hours is Full-Time Employment?