With satellite offices and remote working becoming the new normal, businesses are looking to create a win-win solution for both employers and employees. Split shifts can help immensely by making sure that employees aren’t overburdened and employers are hitting their goals. They can also help attract diverse talent that may not have had the opportunity to join the workforce due to their unique conditions and enhance company culture. 

Global businesses have now realized the importance of split shifts and are trying to adapt them into their work schedules. Split shifts can bring about avenues for an employee to have better work-life integration by adhering to personal requirements during split shift breaks and then returning to work to complete the day’s tasks.

For example, global offices that have a shift from 10 am to 2 pm and then again from 6 pm to 10 pm. The 4 hour split between these two shifts may allow caregivers the flexibility to take care of their wards or even students to finish some part of school hours. 

What is a Split Shift?

A work schedule in a split shift divides an employee’s workday into two or more parts. A split shift is generally separated by two or sometimes more than two hours.

A split shift happens when the employee’s defined work hours are broken into shifts with one or even more unpaid, non-working periods set up by the employer that do not include lunch or rest periods. It does not have a start day and an end-day period, usually seen in the straight shifts or a single continuous shift.

It is very important to note that the lunch break of an hour generally associated with the straight shifts of 8-9 hours are not included in a split shift.

For instance, in a restaurant, a server’s schedule can be from 10 am to 2 pm, which includes the morning rush hours, and from 6.30 pm to 10.30 pm for dinner service. With a split shift like this, an employees total workday is comprised of eight hours with a break of four.

Here, a regular working day has an unpaid period in between. Scheduling is at the discretion of management but employees can propose what times work for them.

Although the pandemic has introduced the concept of split shifts to global offices, customer support has been using split shifts for complete coverage for a very long time.

With employees who are spread across different continents and time zones, it can be possible to split shifts with employees worldwide to work improve real-time communication and provide work flexibility to employees.

How is a Split Shift Set Up?

Like other schedules that the manager prepares, split shifts must also be pre-planned.   

If an employee leaves for personal reasons with managerial approval and returns to complete the job, this is not a split shift. A fair scheduling plan can not only help employees to increase their morale but also productivity. There should be a plan prepared as to how split shifts are managed. HR can work with the managers to follow all federal guidelines concerning work schedules. 

If the scheduling plans are not compliant with the federal guidelines, then there must be additional training so that managers are aware of scheduling practices. There need to be meetings conducted with employees better to understand split shifts and its policy concerning them.

For the customer support segment, too, split shifts can work wonders. The shift breaks in-between can provide scope to employees for personal development such as attending training or attending college and easing out stress.

Let’s understand it with an example; say an employee is in a split shift, then they can have a work schedule that works from 07:00 am to 10:00 am and takes a break in between and then returns to work until the next shift at 3:00 pm and continues working till 6.00 pm. This pattern is especially common for employees working across the globe in different timings or a work pattern with peak hours and slow hours in a day.

What Are Some of the Laws Regarding Split Shifts?

There are certain sections of the California Wage Orders that apply to split shifts: 

  • The split-shift premium generally would be an hour of pay at the minimum wage.
  • The purpose of the split shift premium is to prevent abuses by employers for scheduling shifts that are not voluntary. Which is why voluntarily picking up an extra shift does not qualify for the split shift premium.
  • If an employee initiates a break in the work schedule for personal reasons, that interruption is not considered a split shift.
  • If the worker’s lodgings are at the same location as the work, there is no need for a split shift premium. 
  • Split shifts have no impact on overtime wages.
  • If an employee reports to work at the scheduled time, but is sent home due to no work, the employer must pay for atleast half the scheduled hours. The employee is never entitled to less than two or more than four hours of pay in this case. The employee should never bear the brunt of less work by reporting time pay.

Although this law applies in California, split shifts are available to any employer. 

How to Calculate the Wages in a Split Shift?

Any employee working on a split shift is qualified to receive a split shift premium. It is equal to the hours of the minimum wage pay of the employees. The payment for a split shift premium is along with their regular income.

Let’s consider an example. Say an employee receives $10.75 in an hour and works from 11 am – 2 pm, and then again from 4 pm – 9 pm, making a total of eight working hours.

Now consider the state’s minimum wage is $10.00 per hour, then the employee will receive the portion of the total earning amount.

Now consider that $.75 is multiplied by eight hours which equals $6.00. You must subtract the $6.00 from the $10.00, the minimum wages for the split shift.

Here the hourly wage is $10.75; then the employees have worked for 8 hours, the wages for the split shift is $10.00, the offset bonus is $6.00. So the total premium for the split shift is $10.00-$6.00=$4.00.

Split Shift Break Laws

An employee working six or more than six hours in a split shift is entitled to a break between 30 to 45 minutes. 

How do Split Shifts Benefit Employees?

Improved Work-Life Balance

Split shifts provide the opportunity to have some flexibility in working hours. The employees get the time to do more with their time without losing pay. Split shifts can improve employee engagement and team work.

Extended Hours Without Altering the Scheduled Shifts

Working on a split shift, the employees can voluntarily take the option of extending their working hours without affecting other employees’ work hours. It can benefit the employees who are working part-time and who are willing to work more. It also enables employees to contribute some extra time within the pre-planned schedule. 

How do Split shifts Benefit Employers?

Labor Cost Control

A split shift controls labor costs. During the peak and slow period of the day, the split cost enables adequate labor availability.

We can see this with businesses where split shifts ensure employees are present only when required.


It enables better productivity as the break-in between shifts rejuvenates the employees. As compared to straight shifts, the split shift employees are less worn out by the end of work.

What are the Drawbacks of the Split Schedule?

One of the biggest drawbacks of a split shift schedule is the chance of employers misusing their employees. But federal law has strived to provide better security for employees in the service and business areas. The bill of Schedules That Work Act has made inroads in this direction.

How is a Split Shift a Win-Win Situation for all?

Although businesses with rush hours like restaurants are already putting split shifts to good use, global businesses can also work with these to improve coverage.

Laws in European countries and the USA can protect employee rights and it is only a matter of adhering to them. 

Monitoring a split shift schedule can lead to better implementation.

How to make Effective Split Shift Schedules?

It can be helpful to plan split shift schedules. For instance, for the next month, if the schedule is prepared on the 26th of the previous month and subsequently circulated to employees, it can help to track their attendance. This can also provide them with the scope to inform about planned leaves and any other scheduling issues so that the shift functions smoothly with less absenteeism from employees.

If you think the split shifts can work for your business, keep the legal aspects of it in mind. Record keeping and split shift premiums are the key focus areas.

An effective split schedule can help with optimum resource availability at peak and slow periods. It can be a great way to keep labor costs in check while increasing the productivity of the workforce.

What to Check Before Scheduling a Split Shift?

  1. Have complete awareness of federal, state, and local laws concerning split shift
  2. While scheduling split shifts for employees commuting time and the expenses incurred for it need not be accounted
  3. Good record of tracking punches can help for scheduling split shifts

Use of Split Shifts During the COVID Pandemic

In this pandemic working from home is the new normal. A split shift can be beneficial in current times where employees are working remotely across the globe. 

A split shift can enable working together across different locations and time zones across the globe. Split shifts can be helpful for attending meetings or discussions that require global team attendance.

While the adoption has been slow, it has been steady. Having shift planning software to build out split shifts has been key to improve adoption in global businesses with remote employees working across the globe.

Should all Businesses Adopt Split Shifts?

A split shift may not work well for all businesses. It mainly works well for:

  • Teams working globally
  • Businesses where there are peak and slow hours in the day
  • Firms when specific periods of the day can have less productivity, especially during the break-in period between shifts
  • The hospitality, business process outsourcing, retail, and transportation sectors

The split shift schedule is useful for specific sectors. It can be cost-effective for employers, and employees can also benefit from a more flexible work schedule. In some sectors, however, the straight shifts prove to be more effective.

Employers must look at their requirements and those of employees and take a calculated decision.

Depending on the scale of your business, having shift planning software is definitely useful for scheduling.

Attendance Bot’s Shift Management could be a solution that could help with your shift planning needs. It can sync with team collaboration platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams so shift alerts are instantly sent. Employees can even put in queries with respect to their upcoming schedules and get regular shift reminders.

Are you thinking of adopting split shifts for your employees? Do reach out to us @HarmonizeHQ for any help.