Split Shifts: What Are They And Should You Be Using Them?

Split Shift

If you’re a restaurant manager, you know it can be tough to schedule your employees around service times and rush periods. Especially if they’re accustomed to working a straight eight- or ten-hour shift. Thankfully, there is a solution: the split shift.

What is a split shift? What are the advantages for employees and managers? And is a split shift right for your business? In this article, the experts at Sling will answer those questions and show you how the right tool can make scheduling a split shift quick and easy.

What Is A Split Shift?

A split shift is a type of work schedule in which you divide an employee’s workday into two or more parts.

It’s important to understand that the regular one-hour lunch break associated with a 9-to-5 schedule doesn’t count toward a split shift. A typical split shift is separated by two or more hours.

In a restaurant setting, for example, you might schedule a server from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (to cover the lunch rush) and again from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. (to cover the dinner service). Even though the employee’s workday spanned a 12-hour period, they only worked eight hours with a four-hour break in-between.

Who Initiates A Split Shift?

Manager scheduling employees for a split shift

As with all scheduling practices, only you, the manager, are allowed to call two separate work periods a split shift. An employee may leave for emergency or personal reasons (with your permission, of course) and then return to finish work, but that is not a split shift.

The split shift must be initiated by you and recorded as such on the master schedule. And, in many jurisdictions, the employee must actually leave the premises during the time between shifts to make the split valid.

Advantages For Employees

1) Easy Child & Family Care

If an employee needs to take care of an ailing family member or pick up a young child from school, a split shift makes that possible without cutting into their full-time hours.

This helps create a better work/life balance and means the employee doesn’t have to worry about family matters while on the job. That leads to improved employee engagement and teamwork.

2) Increased Hours Without Affecting Existing Shifts

With a split shift, you can offer willing employees the option to increase their work hours without having an impact on the hours of other employees. This is ideal for part-time employees who want to work more without taking away from full-time employees.

The split shift allows you to add additional time around the existing schedule without making major changes to your established structure.

Advantages For Managers

1) Cost Control

Business manager budgeting

A split shift is one of the best ways to keep expenses low and get control of your overhead. By giving non-essential employees a break between peak hours, you can keep your labor costs low and ensure that you have just the right number of employees on the clock for the work that needs to be done.

2) Improved Productivity

There’s an inverse relationship between productivity and hours worked. In other words, as the number of hours an employee works goes up, their productivity goes down.

By incorporating a split shift into your daily schedule, you give your employees a much-needed break. During that time, they can rest and recharge in preparation for the second part of their workday. That helps keep their productivity and customer service levels high.

Is A Split Shift Right For Your Business?

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 the food service, call center, public transportation, and hospitality sectors (where there is a significant lull at specific times), it can solve many of the scheduling and cost issues that managers regularly encounter.

Tips For Working With Split Shifts

1) Know The Local And Federal Laws

Government building

Be sure to check federal, state, and local laws regarding split shifts before implementing them in your business. More specifically, reference The Federal Fair Labor Standards Act. And if your business resides in California or New York, look up the regulations regarding split-shift premiums and the spread of hours.

If you want to be extra certain you’re scheduling your employees fairly and legally according to local, state, and federal statutes, consult with a labor lawyer who is familiar with the requirements in your area.

2) Factor In Commute Time

The commute to and from work can occupy a significant portion of your employees’ non-work hours. If you implement a split shift in your business, be sure to factor in the time, effort, and expense associated with leaving and returning to work.

3) Keep Meticulous Records

It’s essential that you and your employees keep meticulous records of all split-shift activity. This includes:

  • Start times
  • Stop times
  • Meal breaks (if applicable)
  • When the split shifts should start and end
  • Total daily hours worked

In addition to keeping your own records on file, it’s important to outline the requirements of the split shift in your employee handbook.

Sling Makes Scheduling Split Shifts Easy

Sling's scheduling feature for split shifts

If a split shift looks difficult to schedule, don’t worry, it’s not — as long as you use the right tools. Scheduling software like Sling simplifies even the most complicated split shifts, rotating shifts, and night shifts. All you have to do is sit down, make your schedule, and move on to more pressing matters.

Sling’s cloud-based features — from schedule creation to time clock to payroll calculations — make it easy for you to produce the best schedule possible, distribute it with ease, make changes, and juggle time-off requests.

Sling even provides suggestions and warnings when you’ve double-booked a team member or created a conflict in another part of your schedule. All of this (and much more) makes Sling the best choice for simplifying your split-shift work schedule.

For more free resources to help you manage your business better, organize and schedule your team, and track and calculate labor costs, visit GetSling.com today.

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