Shift work is the norm for many hourly employees. Even some salaried employees may be assigned hours that involve the oversight of a department or floor that operates in shifts. While 8 hours per shift is the more common approach in the United States, there are a number of 12-hour shift jobs to be found.
For many people, working hours like these work well. Such an arrangement is especially helpful when the schedule helps the individual to enjoy a reasonable work-life balance. If you already work long shifts or are applying for a position that would mean working 12 hours per scheduled shift, consider this advice for a personal injury lawyer. What you learn could come in handy later as well as now.
What Industries and Professions May Require Employees to Work Long Shifts?
Those who have never worked anything other than what's known as standard business hours may be unaware of how many fields require employees to work longer shifts. In fact, some of them may surprise you. Here are a few examples.
1. The nursing profession can require a nurse to work a 12-hour shift schedule.
This is more common in states where nurses are not unionized, but it can also be a requirement if a union is in place.
2. Manufacturing plants are also a possibility.
While many operate with shifts that are no longer than eight hours, some will function with shifts lasting twelve hours. The hours can apply to machine operators, yarn haulers, cutters, and any other hourly position that is directly involved with the production process.
3. Law enforcement may also work longer shifts.
For example, police officers may have assigned shifts that last for up to 12 hours at a time. The same is true for detectives, especially those who are hourly rather than salaried.
4. Employees in the hospitality industry may be called upon to work longer shifts.
That includes front desk personnel, concierges, hotel managers, and others who are focused on providing guest services.
5. Fire station personnel may work longer shifts as a way of ensuring there's around-the-clock support in case a fire breaks out.
6. Convenience store employees are known to work longer shifts, especially if the store remains open all night.
For example, some may arrive early in the morning and work until dusk, only to be relieved by another employee who will perform the same duties overnight.
These are only a few examples. There may be others who work in positions involving transportation, supermarkets, call centers, and a variety of professions. Typically, employees are told before being hired what to expect in terms of how long their shifts will last.
Pros and Cons of 12-Hour Work Shifts
While working 12-hour shifts may not be ideal for some, there are people who would not have it any other way. That's because this approach to earning a living provides more benefits than a steady paycheck. Thanks to the way their schedules are structured, they get to enjoy the following:
Many employers who use a 12-hour shift system do not expect employees to work five days in a row. Instead, they may work two or three days out of every week. That provides more days off to rest or to plan short trips, or just enjoy being around the house.
Reduction in Work-Related Commuting Costs:
Working fewer days per week translates into less wear and tear on your vehicle. It also means lower fuel consumption. This is especially true for people who drive a half-hour or longer in order to get to work. Over the course of a year, the reduction in commuting expenses can add up to a tidy sum.
No Need to Ask Off for Medical Appointments:
Shift schedules are announced in advance. That makes it easier for employees to schedule doctor, dentist, and other types of medical appointments on off days. Even with an outpatient procedure, there may be enough of a stretch of off time to recover before returning to work; that means saving sick days for use at a later date.
Participation in Social Events:
When the schedule is set and you know which days you won't be working, it's easier to participate in upcoming social events. From seeing a child's school play to attending birthday parties or even planning a getaway with someone special, you don't have to worry about showing up at work the following day. Relax and enjoy yourself.
As good as this type of work schedule can be, there are potential drawbacks to keep in mind. Here are a few to think about before pursuing a job that requires longer shifts, even if you will work fewer days per week.
Physical and Emotional Strain:
People who find that longer shifts exhaust them physically and mentally may spend a good bit of their off-time recovering. In the worst-case scenario, life becomes an endless cycle of going to work, followed by doing nothing other than sleeping the rest of the week. That's not a healthy life balance.
Loss of Income Due to Days Missed:
Many industries that utilize shift employees don't provide sick days that can be drawn upon. Even when they do, you usually get eight hours worth per day rather than twelve. In other words, missing a day due to illness will take a bite out of your weekly paycheck.
This is particularly true for those who work long shifts at night for part of the week, then are free to sleep when they like the rest of the time. It can be difficult to adjust sleep habits and remain up during your off days. The result is that you may not get as much sleep as your body and mind need.
Only you can decide if this type of working situation is a good choice. Should you find that the cons outweigh the pros, start looking for another line of work.
Employee Scheduling: How Many 12-Hour Shifts Can You Work in a Row?
So are there any limitations on how many long shifts you can work in a row? There's no one answer to that question. In fact, it will vary based on factors like union rules, state employment laws, and even what's considered the norm in the industry under consideration.
In some instances, you may ask an employer, "How many 12-hour shifts can I work in a row?" and the response will be "how many do you want to work in a row?" This is typically true when there is not a union involved and state laws don't require any limits.
Some employers do place limits. This may be a way of avoiding the necessity of paying overtime for hours over a certain number. Others understand how too many shifts in a row can undermine morale and productivity.
In general, it's a good idea to avoid work situations that would require you to be scheduled for more than three days of twelve-hour shifts per week. This is especially true when you have a reasonable hourly wage that will provide enough income to pay the bills.
Understanding the Concept of a Dupont Schedule
You may hear references to a Dupont schedule. Exactly what is a Dupont schedule, and how does it work? Actually, it's a simple way to schedule employees and ensure there is no question about who is working what shift.
Also known as a four-week schedule, this approach may be used by companies where there is both day and night shifts. The goal is to set up a revolving schedule that ensures people have time off and also aren't stuck working the same days from now on.
Basically, it's a schedule that involves working the same shift for three or four days in a row, then having time off. This occurs for three of the four weeks out of each month. During the fourth week, one set of employees may work seven days in a row, while the other set has the week off.
The following week, employees who were off returned to work for the first part of the week, while those who worked the seven days remained off until the second half of the week. The following month, they again reverse roles, with those who previously worked seven days in a row having a full week off.
Preparing for Your Next Shift
Working 12 hour shifts does tend to require some preparation. Opting to get into the habit of taking care of a few things in advance does aid in making the time you are at work less stressful. This is because you don't spend time worrying about what remains to be done at home. Here are some ideas on how to prepare for a 12 hour shift.
Prepare meals in advance and freeze them. You won't be doing much cooking on the days that you work. When you can pull something out of the freezer to heat up in the microwave oven. life will be a lot easier.
Make sure to do the laundry. That includes enough sets of clothing to wear to work each day. You won't ever wonder if there's anything clean to grab while getting ready.
Depending on the type of work you do, there will be other ways to prepare. Don't be shy about asking coworkers what they do prior to showing up for work. Some of their habits may be good for you too.
Tips That Help Your Shift Seem to Go Faster
Working 12 hours a day may seem like a long time, but the time may fly. Knowing how to make a 12 hour shift go by faster is a skill that will serve you well. Here are some tips that will allow you to remain occupied until it's time to go home.
1. Break the shift into sections, and decide what to do with each one.
For example, it will be three or so hours before you will take your first break. Identify what tasks you can do until then. By concentrating on them, break time will be there before you know it.
It's one thing to be a little late because you want to finish a task. It's another to pass on the break altogether. You need the downtime to prepare for the tasks you will do next. Besides, skipping breaks may cause problems for your employer as well as be counterproductive for you.
3. Help out if you're caught up.
Nothing causes time to drag, like having nothing to do. If you're all caught up, see if one of your coworkers could use a helping hand. In a hospital, a registered nurse may ask another RN if they need help checking on patients. As long as you have the training and the free time, it never hurts to do something that may be a little outside your assigned duties.
4. Start organizing for your next round of tasks.
If there are things you will be doing after your break or your lunch, plan out how you will do them now. Having a plan will make it easier to get everything done and ensure all is well by the end of your shift.
There are more tips for working 12 hour shifts that you can learn from coworkers. Observe how they spend their time once they're caught up. Some of what they do may work out for you as well.
What to Do If You Are Injured on the Job
Part of knowing how to survive a 12 hour shift is being aware of safety protocols and following them to the letter. If during your long shift you are hurt in some way, report it immediately. It's also a good idea to retain workplace accident legal counsel as soon as you are able. This is true even if you are sure everything will be fine.
Once you have received medical treatment, contact Linden Law after a workplace accident, and ensure you have legal representation. Doing so will mean having someone who is focused on protecting your rights and ensuring that you receive the benefits and any compensation that may be due.