Shift work

A definition of shift work and what this term means

What is shift work?

Shift working is increasing in the UK, and more workplaces are identifying productivity advantages of employees working a variety of schedules.

There is no specific definition of shift work in law. It usually means a work activity that begins, or ends, outside of the standard daytime working hours of 7am to 7pm.

Shift work can involve working:

  • early mornings
  • late afternoons/evenings
  • nights
  • at the weekend
  • extended work periods of 12 hours, or more
  • rotating hours of work
  • split shifts
  • overtime
  • on standby/on-call duties

Some roles that require shift schedules include jobs in:

  • supermarkets
  • petrol stations
  • call centres
  • hospitality
  • manufacturing
  • those workplaces that allow flexible hours

When addressing shift work issues, it is important to remember to include temporary workers and other workers such as:

  • sub-contractors
  • agency workers
  • volunteers
  • those who have more than one job