Staggered overtime is an arrangement in which workers can change their working hours to suit their personal and work commitments. Such flexible schemes should ideally include a two-hour gap (e.g. 6am to 9am start time and 2pm to 6pm end time), at the very least including a two-day minimum period of rest.
If the employee’s schedule is full, he or she may have to give some of his or her work to another employee who is able to shift work around. There are some businesses that allow this but others do not. The scheme can be applied when a business has to move staff around to meet unexpected demand and it may also be used as a bargaining tool to attract potential staff.
The staggered shifts are applied to each employee on a rotation basis. Each employee gets a fixed number of hours. On working days, the employees may shift to another location and their shift will continue with the same employees. In other words, it is a system whereby one employee works one day and then another employee works the next day. The employee must be given notice at least 24 hours before his or her scheduled shift change to avoid conflicts during the shift change.
Employees should be informed of the changes. They may need to attend meetings, which the manager should inform them of, and they should receive a warning from the employer as well as a copy of the proposed change.
Workers may wish to request flexibility within their shifts. Some businesses provide a couple of days’ notice prior to any changes, whereas others may be reluctant to do so.
The arrangements will usually be made on a contract basis, which the employer may offer employees as part of the contract. An employee may be entitled to additional time off to cover the change, but this is normally at the discretion of the employer and the employee will need to take the time to consider whether the additional time is really necessary.
When employees choose to leave the business, they should be offered the option to stay on with the existing firm and be given the new contracts. A change in employers may result in a contract being drawn up to enable employees to transfer to a new company without having to start again.
The benefit to both parties is that employees are protected against any negative impact on work as an ‘over-staggered arrangement could result in a reduction in wages. and penalties may also be payable by the employer to employees if the arrangement results in reduced earnings.
Employees who are under consideration for the scheme are normally considered as high risk workers. There is a risk that an employee may refuse to accept the terms of the new contract. If this occurs the employee may face disciplinary action or termination, and this could have a detrimental effect on the long term sustainability of the company.
An employee who has already agreed to work with the existing employer may decide to work elsewhere when a contract is drawn up. The employee may have a choice between being placed on a waiting list and being moved to the same position. This is not good for an employee because he or she may not get the same benefits, and pay, or have the opportunity to progress to higher positions.
Employees may also be able to ask for changes to their hours and shifts. This is particularly important if they are already working under a contract and have been offered a fixed contract for years.
These changes can also include flexible hours and shifts for the employee to follow up with other commitments. Flexible hours allow employees to work a few more hours per week, which is beneficial if they have children or have a new baby or a stressful relationship.
Employees may be entitled to penalty relief where the company offers benefits such as paid holidays or sick pay to employees in a bid to retain them, but there is an ongoing cost. A flexible schedule may also help to maintain morale in a company.