Shift work - what is it and what are its features?


The use in a shift work establishment is possible regardless of the system or working time systems applicable in it. Shift work is justified by the type or organization of work and may be used due to the organizational needs of the work process.

What is shift work?

The Labor Code defines shift work. It shows that shift work consists in performing work according to a predetermined work schedule that provides for a change in the time of work by individual people after a certain number of hours, days, weeks. Shift work can be used in any working time system, including basic, equivalent or continuous work. A characteristic feature of shift work is the exchange of employees in the same positions.

The following models of shift work can be distinguished:

  • two-shift work with a break at night and at the end of the week (discontinuous system);
  • three-shift work with a work break at the end of the week (semi-continuous system);
  • work lasts 24 hours on all days of the week (continuous work).

Planning of shift work

Shift work organization forces the definition of the working time schedule of individual employees working for it. Working time schedules should be prepared for a given accounting period. The schedule indicates specific days and hours of work, as well as non-working days with an indication of their type. Planning of shift work takes place on the basis of the working time determined for a given settlement period. Also when working in shifts, the principle of an average five-day working week in the adopted settlement period should be applied. This means that work in one week can be performed for more than 5 days, but it should be compensated with a smaller number of working days in another week in a given settlement period. Start a free 30-day trial period with no strings attached!

Conduct of an employer introducing shift work

The transition from a regular rhythm of work performed under the basic system on certain days of the week and during fixed hours to shift work covering all days of the week requires changes in internal legislation.

The employer determines the working time systems and schedules as well as the adopted working time settlement periods in:

  • collective labor agreement,
  • work regulations,
  • working time notice (if the employer is not covered by a collective labor agreement or is not obliged to establish work regulations).

Therefore, the condition for applying a shift work organization is the prior introduction of a shift work provision to one of the aforementioned company acts.

Differences in the case of hiring an employee in a shift system

When introducing shift work, the employer is also obliged to provide employees with:

  • at least 11 hours of uninterrupted rest in each day,
  • at least 35 hours of uninterrupted rest each week.

As for shift work, the weekly rest of employees working in such work may last less than 35 hours. It is possible in a situation where the time of work by an employee changes due to his transfer to another shift, in accordance with the agreed working time schedule. In this case, the uninterrupted weekly rest may be fewer but not shorter than 24 hours.

Also in the case of hiring an employee in a shift system, it is possible to commission him to work on Sundays and public holidays. Work on a Sunday or public holiday is entitled to a day off, and the employee should use the Sunday off at least once every 4 weeks.