Updated at: 01-08-2022 - By: Jane

Shift work is defined as any work schedule that falls outside of the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. Fixed or rotating schedules, evening, night, and early-morning shifts, and other variations constitute shift work. Approximately 16% of salaried workers in the United States work shifts, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. 60% of employees work evening shifts, and 4% of employees work nights.

Shift work has certain advantages, but it also has some disadvantages. Some people enjoy working at night and prefer an unconventional schedule. Working night, early morning, or rotating shifts can increase the risk of shift work disorder and other sleep disorders.

Which Jobs Normally Include Shift Work?

Work schedules that require shifts are categorized by the Bureau of Labor Statistics into three broad categories:

shifts that come between the hours of 6pm and 10pm are included in this section. Evening shifts are common in the following professions:

  • Employees in the food service industry, such as waiters, busboys, and prep cooks
  • Employees in the fields of hairdressing, beauty salons, personal trainers, and other personal care industries
  • Those who work in retail and other service industries, such as real estate brokers and cashiers,
  • Performers in the performing arts, athletics, medicine, and the media, as well as directors, producers, and engineers

Shifts that take place between the hours of 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. are considered to be night shifts. Night shifts can be found in a variety of jobs, including:

  • Medical professionals such as doctors and nurses, paramedics, and others
  • There are a variety of different types of healthcare support professionals.
  • Security guards and other workers in the protective service industry
  • Some examples are bakers, machine shop technicians and assembly line employees.
  • Other transportation and material-moving workers such as air traffic controllers, conveyer operators, and so on.

An early morning shift covers the time period from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. These are some examples of typical jobs that require these kinds of shifts:

  • Engineers and architects
  • There are a wide range of construction and extraction workers including carpenters and roofers.
  • Farmers, fishermen, and foresters are all included in this group.
  • Installers, maintainers, and repairers of aircraft and industrial machinery and telecommunications equipment

Shift work can, in general, be defined as working, either permanently or periodically, in periods outside normal working hours. The literature uses the term “shift work” in several ways. You should be aware of this if you want to find information on the subject. You can easily become confused, as shift work definitions differ in different texts and books. Shift work can be defined depending on the number of hours you work, what time of day you work and frequency of change between different types of shifts. It may also vary between companies and countries what kind of definitions they use.

The impact of shift work on health

Night shift work is often defined as work in the time 2100-0600, while shift work can be defined as work in the time from 1800 to 0600. The International Labor Organization (ILO) defines night work as all work performed from midnight to 5 a.m. (ILO Night Work Convention, no 171, 1990) Different definitions can be set in relation to salaries, and can be the result of discussions between authorities and trade unions; that is why the definitions can differ from country to county. We also describe the shifts by using the words day shift, afternoon shift and night shift. Shift work can also be classified as follows:

A. Permanent shift

In general, shift work can be defined as working outside of normal working hours on a regular basis, whether permanently or on a periodic basis. Shift work can be construed in a variety of ways in the literary canon. If you’re looking for information on the subject, you should be aware of this. Shift work definitions vary widely, making it easy to get lost in the weeds. shift work can be defined by the number of hours you work each day as well as how frequently shifts are changed. A company’s and a country’s definitions may also be different. As a general rule, shift work is defined as working from 1800 to0600, while night shift work is defined as working from 2100-0600 and shift work as working from 1800 to 06:00. In the eyes of the International Labor Organization (ILO), “night work” is defined as any work performed between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m. No.171, 1990 International Labor Organization Convention on Night Labor Because different governments and labor unions have different ideas about what constitutes a fair wage, different countries’ definitions will differ from one another. Shifts are also referred to as day, afternoon, and night in our language. There are two ways to classify shift work:

B. Rotating shifts

To put it another way, shift work is any time spent on the job that does not correspond to a regular 9 to 5 schedule. It’s not uncommon for the term “shift work” to be used more than once in academic writing. Searching for information on the issue will require that awareness. Shift work definitions vary widely in the literature, making it easy to become lost in the weeds. It is possible to define shift work based on the amount of hours you work, the time of day you work, and the frequency of shift changes. Companies and governments may also employ different meanings. It is common practice to refer to “night shift” workers as those who work between the hours of 2100-0600 and shift workers as those who work between the hours of 1800 and 0600 as “shift.” In the eyes of the International Labor Organization (ILO), “night work” refers to any work performed between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m. ILO Night Work Convention, number 171 (1990). Because different governments and labor organizations have different ideas about what constitutes a fair wage, different countries’ conceptions of fair pay will differ. There are additional terminology for the different times of day and night that we use when describing the different types of shifts. There are several ways to classify shift work:

C. Continuous shift

‘Monday through Sunday’ shift work is what it means. Work does not stop in the workplace on weekends because of this definition of shiftwork. When referring to this type of job, the phrase “continuous” is frequently used. For example, if you work night shifts every night for a week, then switch to day shifts for a week, then switch to afternoon shifts for a week, and so on, others use the phrase “continuous.”

D. Discontinuous shift

Depending on the context, this could suggest that the employee works weekday or weekend shifts. The weekend as a whole is not covered.

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E. Swing shift

An idiom known as “swing shift” refers to the practice of switching shifts within a working session. Offshore installations, building sites, and mines where workers are required to stay for an extended period of time are all examples of places where this type of work system is used. Working nights for a few days and then switching to day shifts for a few days before going home is an option.

What Is a Rotating Shift?

These occupations often follow the same starting and ending timings for each shift as well as a certain number of workdays per week. On the other hand, shifts and days of the week can change from week to week with a rotating timetable.

Rotating shifts have different criteria depending on the company. The following are examples of common rotational schedules:

  • There is a seven-day rotation of shifts at Continental: workers work day, evening, and night shifts. An eight-hour shift is considered a full workday. Two or three days off are given to the workers after each seven-day work period.
  • It follows a 14-day timetable known as the 2-2-3 pattern in Panama. A 12-hour shift is worked two or three days in a row, followed by two or three days off. During the first and second weeks of the 14-day cycle, they will therefore work on different days.
  • Four weeks is the length of the Dupont system’s rotating schedule. Every one to two weeks, employees switch between night and day shifts. Three or four consecutive days of work, followed by one to three days off, will be the norm. The worker has seven days off in a row at the end of the four-week plan.

It is more difficult to work rotating shifts than to work permanent shifts because workers have to reschedule their schedules every week or month. That being said, shifting from day to night to early morning shifts will allow you to more easily adapt your circadian rhythms, which govern your sleep-wake cycle. Circadian rhythms are more likely to be thrown off if you rotate in reverse or at random.

As a result of having to alter their sleep-wake routine every one to two weeks, some employees find it difficult to adjust to rotating shifts. One of the most challenging aspects of a five- to seven-day rotation is for many people to accept. To avoid disrupting your circadian rhythm, it is better to rotate more frequently (every two to three days or so) than rotate less frequently (every three days or so).

Pros and Cons of Shift Work

Shift employment has many advantages, including:

  • Work best in the wee hours of the morning for those who thrive in the darkness for those who thrive in the early morning for those who thrive in the darkness..
  • You’ll be able to get to work more quickly because you won’t be stuck in traffic as much during the day.
  • Shift work isn’t legally compelled to pay you more, but some organizations reward employees who work a shift schedule with higher salaries.

Shift work has a number of drawbacks, including:

  • People who work irregular shifts may suffer from shift work disorder, a medical ailment that causes sleep issues. Symptoms include sleeplessness when the person is trying to sleep and excessive tiredness when they are awake, as the disorder is known. There are many shift workers who have trouble sleeping or keeping asleep during the day when they need rest, even if their symptoms don’t progress to disorders. Cortisol and testosterone imbalances can have a negative impact on one’s quality of life, resulting in weariness, low energy, and a diminished libido.
  • Working night shifts and sleeping during the day might have a negative impact on family life and mingling with coworkers and friends.
  • Drowsy driving is more common among night shift employees, so even if there is less traffic, they have a greater risk of being involved in an accident. Between midnight and 6 a.m. or in the late afternoon, the bulk of these crashes are involving solo drivers with no passengers.

What industries use shift work?

Shift work is required by a number of businesses. Four industries and a few shift-work positions are listed below:

  • Police are in charge here.
  • Transportation
  • Military
  • Healthcare

Law enforcement

Diverse facets of law enforcement necessitate rotating shifts for its personnel. Employees are required to work overnight as a result of this. Shift work is common in law enforcement, including positions such as:

1. Police officer

Salary: $51,301 annually, on average, across the country

The primary functions of police officers include enforcing the law and protecting the public. Arrests, patrols, and emergency calls are just a few of the responsibilities of a police officer. To be an effective officer, a police officer must be self-assured, articulate, and able to work well with others.

2. Border patrol agent

The national average annual wage is $69,227.

Agents on border patrol are tasked with keeping an eye on the border and apprehending those who cross it unlawfully or try to carry illicit goods across it. Additionally, they are required to acquire information and make arrests when appropriate


Everyone from airline pilots to passenger bus drivers are included in the transportation industry. Shifts may be required in your transportation employment depending on your role. Listed here are two:

1. Flight attendant

The average hourly wage in the United States is $16.92.

Flight attendants are primarily responsible for the well-being and comfort of passengers on airplanes. It’s also their job to keep them safe and to enforce safety rules while they’re in the air. Flight attendants need to be alert and effective communicators.

2. Truck driver

National average salary: $1,110 per week

The national average weekly wage is $1,110.


Shift work is common in tactical occupations like the military and law enforcement. In part, this is owing to the military’s necessity to work midnight shifts, like those in law enforcement. The following are two jobs where shift work is likely to occur:

1. Infantryman

The average yearly wage in the United States is $38,125.

Infantrymen are primarily tasked for engaging the enemy on the battlefield when they launch an attack. They’re tasked with defending the nation, as they are in every military job. Infantrymen are expected to be in top physical and mental shape.

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2. Cannon crewmember

$38,677 per year is the average annual wage in the United States.

Weapon systems and combat engagement are the primary responsibilities of Cannon crew members. It’s also possible for them to operate howitzer cannons and set fuses on various weapons. If they want to win, they must have a well-thought-out combat plan, operate well as part of a group, and be physically strong.


Shift employment is required in the healthcare business because of the high number of patients who need to be cared for when they are in a hospital overnight or for an extended period of time. Shift employment can be found in a variety of healthcare occupations, including:

1. Registered nurse

The average hourly wage in the United States is $33.87.

The primary responsibilities of a registered nurse include the keeping of patient records, the supervision of patients, and the administration of prescribed medications and treatments. It is their job to aid doctors in treating a wide range of patients. As a registered nurse, you’re expected to have excellent interpersonal skills, pay attention to your patients’ needs, and show empathy.

2. Physician

An annual salary of $201,054 is the national average.

The primary duty of a physician is to provide medical care to a patient, regardless of the type of doctor they are. It is their job to perform diagnostic tests and review medical records in order to reach a diagnosis and suggest an appropriate course of action. Patients may be asked to return for an additional examination at a later date if necessary. Problem solvers, attentive, and good communicators are all essential qualities in a doctor.

Shift work legislation

Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974

All employers are required by law to provide a safe and healthy workplace for their workers, and this is spelled down in the 1974 Health and Safety at Work etc Act.

Providing enough resources is essential to achieving this goal.

  • training
  • instruction
  • information
  • supervision.
  • In addition, personnel are expected to take reasonable precautions to ensure their own safety and the safety of their coworkers. In order to fulfill their legal obligations, they must work together with their employer.

The management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

Management of Health and Safety at Activity Regulations (1999) mandates that employers analyze and manage hazards to their employees and the general public that may arise from their work. It is the responsibility of every employee to follow their training and instructions in order to ensure that the workplace is safe.

The Working Time Regulations 1998 (as amended) (WTR)

Minimum legal standards for arranging working time are laid down in the Working Time Regulations 1998 (as modified).

Safety Representatives and Safety Committee Regulations 1977

Workers and their union representatives are required to be consulted by their employers on workplace health and safety matters, as outlined in the Safety Representatives and Safety Committee Regulations 1977 and the Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996.

How many people work shifts?

We don’t know exactly how many people work shifts, but we do know that it is a huge amount. Between 8 and 16 hours a day, just 25% of European Union workers have what we call a “normal” working day, meaning that 75% of the workforce works shifts. There is a dearth of information regarding night shifts outside of the European Union. 25.2 percent of Japanese workers are said to work night hours, according to one estimate. The Republic of Korea has recorded a substantially greater percentage of night shift workers (44%). (2002). Currently, there are no estimates of the number of shift workers in developing nations, such as those who work night shifts. Shift labor is frequent in industries where processes cannot be stopped at night, such as smelting and hospitals, or because the work is intrinsically tied to the night (e.g. a night watchman). Night shift workers are becoming more common in large cities because of the amount of gas stations, cafes, and shops that are open 24 hours a day.

Tips for managing shift work schedules

You’ll need to take a few factors into account when adjusting to a shift schedule for the first time. Here are a few tips to help you better manage your workday:

  • Maintain a regular work routine. Your physical and emotional health might benefit from a consistent sleep routine.
  • Get into a regular sleep routine. In order to assist your body balance itself and improve your overall performance, you should get used to sleeping at the same time every night.
  • Avoid rotating shifts as much as possible. It is preferable to switch from a day to night shift rather than vice versa if a rotating schedule is required.
  • Caffeine consumption should be kept to a minimum near the end of the workday. It’s been shown that drinking coffee in the hours leading up to your shift can make it more difficult to wind down and sleep at night.

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