You probably know the typical working hours as 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. These hours of operation work well for a lot of businesses—most of them, in fact.
But, some businesses, like manufacturing companies, hospitals, and gas stations, require round-the-clock operations. So, what’s the best way to organize your schedule for 24/7 coverage?
Typically, the most efficient way to keep a business running all hours is to use a schedule with twelve-hour shifts, like the DuPont Schedule.
What Is a DuPont Schedule?
The DuPont Schedule rotates four teams of employees between day and night shifts to cover 24 hours of work.
The schedule uses a 4-week cycle where employees have three or four consecutive twelve-hour shifts with one to three days off in between. It gets its name from the DuPont company that created it in the 1950s.
Here's what it looks like:
Sample DuPont Schedule for Small Businesses
Let’s take a look at a 4-week shift plan that any small business can use. Keep in mind that every shift length (day or night) is 12 hours, and the teams will cycle through all of these in a month.
With this schedule template, employees work 168 hours in four weeks—two 48-hour weeks, one 72-hour week, and one week off.
Overtime Pay with the DuPont Schedule
This schedule averages 42 working hours per week for each team member, which means you pay an average of two overtime hours per employee weekly.
Let’s see how the pay rates break down.
If we focus on the first week, here’s what your payroll looks like for each team.
- Team one works four twelve-hour shifts for a total of 48 hours. You pay 40 regular hours and 8 overtime hours per person.
- Team two works six twelve-hour shifts for a total of 72 hours. You pay 40 regular hours and 32 overtime hours per person.
- Team three works four twelve-hour shifts for a total of 48 hours. You pay 40 regular hours plus 8 overtime hours per person.
- Team four works no days. You pay 0 regular hours plus 0 overtime hours per person.
State Overtime Exceptions
If your business is in a state with daily overtime laws, you may have to pay time and a half for all hours in excess of 8 hours per day. Since employees work 12-hour shifts on this schedule, that would be 4 overtime hours for each day worked. States that require overtime pay for more than 8 hours worked in a day include Alaska, California, Nevada, and Washington D.C.
To make matters even more complicated, there are overtime exceptions for certain approved industries. In California, for example, hospitals and the healthcare industry don't have to offer overtime pay if an employee works up to 12 hours in a day. If an employee works beyond 12 hours, however, double time pay is required. That's why it's so important to review state laws before moving forward with an alternative schedule.
These rotating schedules can add extra steps to your payroll processing. But, with Hourly, you can use time-tracking features to run a seamless and accurate weekly payroll. They’ll do all the calculations for you, and you can pay your team with a single click.
Now that you know what the DuPont Schedule looks like, you may be wondering if it’s the right choice for you. Let’s take a closer look at which industries use it and which pros and cons to consider.
Who Uses the DuPont Shift Schedule?
DuPont employee scheduling shifts are only suitable for businesses that want 24/7 coverage. They’re typically seen in manufacturing, chemical processing and production, engineering, and power supply. It’s also a commonly used schedule for police departments.
For this schedule to work, you need four crews with enough employees to keep the business running. The size of the crew depends on your business needs and operations.
For instance, say a chemical processing plant requires 50 workers round-the-clock. If that plant wants to use a four-team rotating schedule, it’ll need 4 crews of 50, or 200 total workers.
Advantages of DuPont Shift Schedules
This work schedule has benefits for both employers and employees.
Allows You to Stay Open 24/7
One of the main benefits of the DuPont Schedule is that you can keep your business open around the clock. This lets you serve more customers and ultimately generate more revenue. Not to mention, you can improve the customer service experience since you always have someone available to handle potential issues.
Gives Employees Longer Breaks
On this schedule, your employees get an entire week of consecutive days off each cycle. In other words, it’s like having a week off from work each month.
Seven days off in a row lets employees spend more time with their families, enjoy hobbies, keep up with personal appointments, and rest. This can certainly help with employee satisfaction.
In total, employees receive 15 days off every four-week cycle. In contrast, someone who works regular business hours Monday through Friday and has weekends off only gets 8 days off every four weeks.
Spreads out Night Shifts
If your business needs people working at night, a rotating night shift schedule prevents the burden from falling on one group of people. This 4-week cycle automatically ensures that night work gets evenly distributed, so you don’t have to keep track of who’s working and when.
Disadvantages of DuPont Shift Schedules
While this schedule does offer several advantages, it’s not for everyone. Here are some disadvantages you may want to consider before switching.
Employees May Have a Hard Time Adjusting
This schedule requires employees to work twelve hours at a time, which can become tedious or tiring for some employees who aren’t used to longer shifts.
Also, while this cycle has a predictable framework, each week differs from the one before. Some workers may find that this doesn’t work with their lifestyle because it can make it hard to take care of children, go to appointments, and do other errands.
Shift Coverage Can Be Difficult
This schedule has a straightforward trade-off: Employees work consecutive twelve-hour shifts, and they’re rewarded with long stretches of time off. Given that, it can be harder to find someone to cover a shift for a sick employee because it would throw off another person’s rotation.
One Long Workweek Each Cycle
Each week, one team works 72 hours, which can be draining. Some employees may think getting a whole week off each month is worth it, but others may have trouble with the 72-hour workweek.
Are There Other 12-Hour Shift Schedules?
If you’re not sure that this schedule is right for you, the good news is that there are a couple of other ways to ensure 24/7 coverage for your business. Let’s dive in.
The Pitman Shift Schedule (2-3-2)
The Pitman shift schedule (or 2-3-2) uses a 14-day rotating shift pattern of twelve-hour days that looks like this:
- Two days on + two days off
- Three days on + two days off
- Two days on + three days off
With this schedule, employees typically work the same shift (day or night) for the entire 14-day cycle, and then you can switch for the next cycle. In one cycle, employees have seven days on and seven off.
Employees average 42 hours per week, and you can divide your workforce into four teams to get round-the-clock coverage.
With the Pitman schedule, employees only work two or three consecutive days at the most. As for weekends, each two-week cycle will involve working one weekend (Friday through Saturday). However, employees will get the next weekend off, including Friday.
One disadvantage to this schedule is that half of your employees will have to work night shifts for two weeks at a time. This may be difficult for some team members, but it does mean that night work is automatically rotated.
The 2-2-3 schedule is another option similar to the Pitman schedule, where employees rotate 12-hour shifts with two days on, two days off, and three days on for a 28-day cycle.
Four On, Four Off (4 x 4)
Four on, four off (4x4) is another option for 24/7 coverage. It’s one of the simple schedules, with employees working four days straight and then taking four days off. You can also rotate teams between day and night shifts.
In this schedule, your employees work a total of 4 twelve-hour shifts each week—that’s 48 hours every week. Each week, you’ll pay everyone for 40 regular hours and 8 overtime hours.
The 4 x 4 gives employees plenty of rest time in between their work days. However, while this one sounds the most simple, it also changes the most from week to week. Since there are 8 days in this cycle and 7 days in a week, your employees’ days off vary.
Choosing the Right Rotating Shift Schedule
If you need to keep your business running round-the-clock, it may make the most sense to use twelve-hour shifts. In that case, it’s usually best to use shift work to rotate your employees to ensure everyone gets plenty of time to rest, recuperate, and take care of their personal lives.
Now that you’ve seen a few 24/7 shift scheduling examples, it’s time to see which one is the best fit. How can you do that? Ask your employees what they think!