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What are Split Shifts and How to Implement Them

To ensure compliance with split shift regulations and create fair scheduling practices, employers need to maintain meticulous records, calculate compensation accurately, and keep employees informed about their rights and schedules. Scheduling software like Celayix can streamline these processes and help businesses maintain efficient, compliant, and employee-friendly split shift schedules.

Doctor taking break between split shifts

In the fast-paced world of modern business, providing round-the-clock services is often necessary. However, expecting employees to work long, continuous shifts can negatively affect their physical and mental health. You may have wondered how businesses can ensure round-the-clock service without overburdening employees. After all, it is not feasible or fair to expect employees to work around the clock. Research has shown that long working hours can significantly negatively impact employees’ physical and mental health. So, how do businesses maintain optimum staffing levels to serve customers while prioritizing their team’s well-being? The answer may be more straightforward than you think, and it’s something you might have yet to hear of: the split shifts. 

A split shift is a scheduling strategy that divides an employee’s workday into two or more parts, with a substantial break in between. In this article, we will delve into split shifts and their advantages for employees and managers. We will also explore how to implement them effectively. We will also explore the role of scheduling software in optimizing split shift schedules.

What Is a Split Shift Schedule?

Taking Extended Breaks thanks to split shifts

Split shifts are characterized by dividing an employee’s work hours into distinct blocks with a break of at least two hours in between. Unlike a standard one-hour lunch break, common in a 9-to-5 schedule, a split shift involves an extended break during which employees are not on duty. Now, you might be thinking, “Don’t we already do that with lunch breaks?” Well, not quite. That standard hour lunch break in the middle of a shift doesn’t really count. It’s just a lunch break, not a break break.

Here’s an example to illustrate the concept: Imagine a restaurant that operates from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. To cover the lunch and dinner rushes effectively, the manager schedules a server from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and then again from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. In this scenario, although the employee’s workday spans 12 hours, they only work for eight hours, with a four-hour break in between.

It’s important to note that only managers can initiate a split shift, which must be documented on the master schedule. Additionally, in some jurisdictions, employees must physically leave the workplace during the break between shifts to be considered a valid split shift.

Do Employees Still Work a Full Day?

Working 9 to 5 clock

Absolutely, split shift employees do still work a full day. A split shift doesn’t shorten the total work hours; instead, it rearranges them into distinct blocks. The total time worked on a split shift still adds to a regular workday, whether eight hours, ten hours, or any other full-time equivalent. The main difference is that these hours are spread out, with a long break in between, rather than all in one go.

One key point to remember here is the “split shift allowance.” In some jurisdictions, labour laws mandate that employers provide an extra wage—a split shift allowance—to workers who complete a split shift. This is because split shifts can be less convenient for employees, impacting their personal time or incurring additional commuting costs. The split shift allowance is designed to offset these potential inconveniences. This makes the split shift arrangement more attractive and fair to employees.

Calculating the Split Shifts Premium

In regions like California, employers must pay a split shift premium to employees who work split shifts. This premium compensates employees for this scheduling arrangement’s inconvenience and additional expenses.

The formula for calculating the split shift premium is as follows:

Total Pay at Minimum Wage + One Extra Hour at Minimum Wage – Total Pay at Regular Hourly Rate = Split Shift Premium

Let’s break this down step by step:

Calculating overtime
  1. Calculate the employee’s pay for the day at their regular hourly rate by multiplying the total number of hours worked by their hourly rate.
  2. Determine the employee’s pay for the day at the minimum wage rate, considering the local or state minimum wage (whichever is higher). Add an extra hour at the minimum wage rate.
  3. Compare the two amounts. If the total pay with the extra hour at minimum wage is higher than the pay at the regular hourly rate, the difference is the split shift premium owed to the employee.

For example, if an employee in San Francisco works from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and then from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., and the local minimum wage is $16.99 per hour, while their regular hourly rate is $18 per hour, the split shift premium would be calculated as follows:

Regular Pay: $18 x 8 hours = $144

Minimum Wage Pay: $16.99 x 8 hours + $16.99 (one extra hour) = $152.91

Split Shift Premium: $152.91 – $144 = $8.91

Industries Where Split Shifts Are Prevalent

The prevalence of split shifts can vary significantly across industries. For instance, the transportation and warehousing industry had approximately 37.5% of its workforce engaged in shifts other than the standard daytime schedule. In contrast, the leisure and hospitality industry had about 26.4% of its workforce working non-standard shifts, including split shifts.


Graph on Industry affected by Unpredictable scheduling

In the bustling world of hospitality, which includes hotels, restaurants, and bars, split shifts are a common scheduling strategy. This approach ensures that these establishments maintain an optimal level of staffing during peak meal periods and special events. Within this industry, various roles, such as front desk staff, chefs, servers, and bartenders, often seamlessly work split shifts to cover breakfast, lunch, and dinner services.

Public Transportation: 

Public transportation services, such as buses and trains, are vital in keeping communities connected around the clock. Many transportation personnel, including drivers, utilize split shifts to provide continuous coverage. These shifts are strategically designed to accommodate peak travel times, ensuring commuters have daily and night transportation options.


 The healthcare sector operates 24/7 to meet the needs of patients. Healthcare facilities, including hospitals, rely on split shifts to ensure uninterrupted care. Medical professionals such as nurses, doctors, and support staff often work split shifts. This ensures patients receive the required attention at any hour.

Customer Support Centers:

In today’s globalized world, businesses offering customer support services cater to customers in various time zones. As a result, it’s common for customer support centers to employ split shifts. This scheduling approach guarantees that customers can access assistance and solutions whenever needed, regardless of location.


Large retail establishments frequently utilize split shifts, especially during peak seasons like holidays. These shifts are instrumental in covering stores’ extended opening and closing hours. By doing so, retailers can efficiently manage their workforce to provide uninterrupted service to shoppers.

Benefits of Split Shifts

Advantages for Employees

Work-Life Balance from Split Shifts

Easy Child & Family Care: The flexibility inherent in split shifts empowers employees to address family-related responsibilities seamlessly. Whether picking up children from school or tending to ailing family members, split shifts enable individuals to fulfill their familial obligations without compromising their full-time work hours. This harmonious balance fosters a healthier work-life equilibrium, diminishing the stress of juggling family duties during working hours.

Statistics: According to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics survey, approximately 3% of American workers follow a split shift schedule. This work arrangement significantly benefits parents of small children, allowing them to cater to childcare needs effectively.

Increased Hours Without Affecting Existing Shifts: Part-time employees seeking to expand their working hours find split shifts particularly advantageous. This scheduling approach allows them to augment their weekly hours without interfering with the established schedules of their full-time colleagues. This flexibility benefits both employees, who can boost their income, and employers, who can meet varying workload demands efficiently.

Statistics: Research from the Economic Policy Institute reveals that approximately 9% of transportation, utilities, and agriculture workers adopt split shift schedules to optimize their working hours.

Advantages for Managers

Cost Control: Effective management of labour costs is a paramount concern for businesses across industries. Split shifts serve as a potent tool in this regard. By strategically scheduling breaks during off-peak hours, organizations can maintain an appropriate workforce level to meet customer demand while mitigating superfluous labour expenses. This judicious allocation of labour resources aligns with fiscal responsibility and efficiency principles.

a laptop with statistics and costs around it

Statistics: Split shifts are prevalent in sectors characterized by continuous operation, such as public transportation and healthcare. For instance, 37.5% of employees work shifts other than the regular daytime schedule in the transportation and warehousing industry, emphasizing the sector’s reliance on non-standard shifts to control costs.

Improved Productivity: Research studies have consistently illuminated an intriguing phenomenon—an inverse relationship between uninterrupted work hours and employee productivity. In simpler terms, employee productivity tends to decline as the duration of consecutive work hours increases. Split shifts solve this challenge by allowing employees to rest and recharge during their break periods. This interlude between work sessions rejuvenates employees, resulting in heightened productivity and an enhanced ability to deliver exceptional customer service during their second work segment.

Statistics: Research findings from the American Psychological Association (APA) underscore the importance of split shifts in safeguarding employee well-being and work performance. Irregular work hours, including split shifts, can influence work-life balance and overall quality of life. Businesses that recognize the significance of these scheduling practices are better positioned to maximize productivity while promoting employee welfare.

Is a Split Shift Right for Your Business?

While split shifts offer numerous benefits, they may not suit all types of businesses. Office environments, for instance, typically do not experience the same variations in activity levels throughout the day as restaurants or call centers do. Split shifts are most commonly found in industries such as food service, call centers, public transportation, and hospitality, with distinct periods of high and low demand.

Before implementing split shifts in your business, consider factors such as your industry, the availability of labour, and the preferences of your employees. Evaluating whether split shifts’ benefits align with your business goals and operational needs is essential.

Tips for Implementing Split Shifts

employment laws

Know the Local and Federal Laws: Before introducing split shifts, familiarize yourself with federal, state, and local laws regarding split shifts. The Federal Fair Labor Standards Act and state-specific regulations may dictate how split shifts are scheduled and compensated. Consulting with a labour lawyer well-versed in your area’s requirements can provide additional guidance.

Factor in Commute Time: Recognize that split shifts can increase employee commuting time and expenses. Consider how this affects their work experience and minimize the impact by providing adequate break times.

Keep Meticulous Records: Accurate record-keeping is crucial when implementing split shifts. Maintain records of start and stop times, meal breaks, and the specific requirements of each split shift in your employee handbook to ensure compliance with labour regulations.

It’s essential to know state-specific laws and regulations regarding split shifts, as they can vary significantly. Let’s take a closer look at split shift rules in a few specific states:


California law mandates employers to pay an additional hour’s wage at the state or local minimum wage rate (whichever is higher) to employees working split shifts. The calculation for the premium can be intricate, considering the regular hourly rate and minimum wage rate. This premium is designed to compensate employees for the inconvenience of split shifts.

District of Columbia

In Washington, D.C., employees working split shifts are entitled to an additional hour of pay at the minimum wage rate if their break between shifts is longer than one hour. Employees residing on-site may be exempt from this requirement.


Illinois does not have specific laws regarding split shifts. However, the Chicago Fair Workweek Ordinance stipulates that employees should have a break of at least ten hours between shifts if they are scheduled to work again. This regulation aims to ensure that employees have sufficient time for rest and recovery between work periods.

New York

In New York, nonexempt hourly employees in the service industry are entitled to one extra hour at the minimum wage rate for a split shift. Additionally, if the start and end of an employee’s workday exceeds ten hours, they are eligible for the spread of hours pay, including an extra hour of pay at the minimum wage rate. Employers can offset this premium against any amount paid above the minimum wage.


Oregon mandates that employees receive time and a half for any shift that starts less than ten hours after the end of their previous shift. This ensures employees have an adequate break between shifts and are compensated for shorter intervals between work periods.

The Role of Scheduling Software

Implementing split shifts can be complex, especially when managing multiple employees and schedules. This is where scheduling software like Celayix comes into play. Scheduling software streamlines the process of creating and managing split shift schedules, making it easier for managers to optimize staffing levels and ensure compliance with labour laws.

Scheduling Rules Engine Desktop

Celayix, with its advanced scheduling rules engine and artificial intelligence capabilities, provides businesses with the tools needed to implement split shifts efficiently. Here’s how scheduling software can assist:

Effortless Schedule Creation: Scheduling software simplifies creating complex split shift schedules. Managers can input employee availability and preferences, and the software can generate optimized schedules that meet business needs while accommodating employee requirements.

Real-Time Insights: Scheduling software offers real-time visibility into labour costs and scheduling conflicts. It provides warnings about double-booked employees and helps managers make informed decisions to maintain cost control.

Automated Time Tracking: With time clock and payroll integration, scheduling software like Celayix ensures accurate tracking of employee work hours, making it easy to calculate split shift premiums or other additional compensation where applicable.

Conflict Resolution: Scheduling software can identify and resolve scheduling conflicts, ensuring employees receive adequate breaks between split shifts and comply with labour regulations.

Ensuring Compliance and Fair Scheduling

Celayix Time Tracking

To ensure compliance with split shift regulations and create fair scheduling practices, employers need to maintain meticulous records, calculate compensation accurately, and keep employees informed about their rights and schedules. Scheduling software like Celayix can streamline these processes and help businesses maintain efficient, compliant, and employee-friendly split shift schedules.

In conclusion, split shifts offer a flexible scheduling solution for businesses in various industries, allowing them to provide round-the-clock services while optimizing labour costs. However, implementing and managing split shifts requires careful consideration of labour laws and employee preferences. Scheduling software like Celayix can streamline the process, ensuring compliance, efficiency, and employee satisfaction.

While the prevalence of split shifts varies by industry, it remains a valuable tool for businesses needing continuous coverage and peak period staffing. Companies should be aware of state-specific regulations, such as California’s split shift premium, to ensure fair compensation for employees working split shifts. If you’re interested in exploring the potential benefits of implementing a split shift schedule for your company, don’t hesitate to contact us today for further information and consultation.

Written by Nippun Arora

Written by Nippun Arora

Nippun is the Marketing Coordinator at Celayix, primarily creating content and email marketing. He has been working with them for over 3 years.

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