Depending on what industry you’re in, you and your team might have a standard 9-to-5 work schedule. Or…they might not. Hospitality, public transport, food service, medical facilities and even customer support centers all operate at varying hours of the day and night.
Here's the problem: Your employees can’t work around the clock. In fact, research has shown that long working hours have a significant negative impact on people’s physical and mental health. So how do you make sure that you have the right staffing levels to serve your customers while still caring for the well-being of your team? Enter: split shift.
Never heard of this type of work schedule before? We’re here to help you decide if breaking out your team’s workday into split shifts is right for your business, along with a few state-specific considerations to keep in mind.
What Is a Split Shift Schedule?
A split shift is a type of schedule where your employee’s work hours are broken out into two or more parts, with unpaid time off in between.
A split shift is always completed on the same workday, but the hours an employee works and the amount of time in between are up to you. You might be thinking that you already offer this with a standard hour lunch break in the middle of a shift. But these meal breaks don’t actually count.
To be legally considered a split shift, the amount of time between each part of your employee’s working day must be two hours or longer and separate from any required meal periods that a team member is entitled to under employment laws.
Do Employees Still Work a Full Day?
With split shifts, your employee can still work a typical full-time or eight-hour day. But instead of working all of those hours consecutively, they’re broken down into two or more chunks across a 24-hour period (don't worry, we'll give you an example in a bit).
Who Uses this Schedule?
This type of schedule is most common in restaurants, hotels, and security, and generally works well for individuals who need more flexibility in their working day. And according to research by Gartner, that’s a crucial factor for job seekers. Sixty-four percent were more likely to consider a role if the hours were flexible.
Offering split shifts can be a good move for many businesses. College students can work around their class schedule. Or parents can plan childcare around another caregiver’s working hours. All while allowing your company to operate for longer hours with a more effective team.
How Do Split Shifts Work?
Let’s look at an example of this type of schedule in action. Imagine that you’re running a restaurant that opens at 11 a.m. and closes at 11 p.m., but the hours between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. are fairly quiet. Since both lunch and dinner can get busy, you want your most experienced employees to work during these hours.
A split shift would allow you to schedule your best waitstaff from 11 a.m. to 1p.m., then again from 5 p.m. until closing, with a legally-required meal period somewhere during their actual working hours. Your less experienced employees can cover the four-hour shift in the afternoon when there are fewer customers.
With this type of employee scheduling, your key staff are still working an eight-hour day, but they’re getting four hours off in the middle before they come back in for the dinner shift. That time is theirs to do what they want and is unpaid, non-working time.
Do Split Shifts Impact How Much Employees Get Paid?
Federal laws require that you pay your employees at least a fixed minimum wage—either the one set at the national level or the state minimum wage (or even local), whichever one is higher.
If you’re running a business that operates during undesirable hours, paying your weekend or night shift workers above the minimum wage rate is a fairly common practice in order to make those hours more appealing. This is known as a shift differential.
But, while it might be common, that pay bump isn't required. According to the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act, employers don't have to pay a shift differential for split shifts.
State Laws May Require You to Pay More for Split Shifts
It's important to check your state, though. In some states (California is one of them!), you are required to pay a split shift premium. That means employees who work these shifts get a little extra money—which we'll break down in a minute.
Team members are not entitled to these premiums if they live on-site, like in an apartment above the restaurant or cafe they work in or if they volunteer to work an extra shift during the same workday.
What Is Split Shift Pay in California?
In California, the split shift premium is an extra hour of pay at the state or local minimum wage rate (whichever is higher) and is added to their standard wage. This premium must be paid for each split shift worked.
Can you just add an extra hour of minimum wage to the shift? Not exactly. You’ll need to add it on, yes–but then you’ll need to check that total against what they’d get at their regular rate.
If their total pay (with that extra hour) is more than what you’re paying them anyway, you’ll owe the difference. That may be less than paying for a whole hour, so you’ll want to be sure you’re doing the calculations correctly.
The formula looks like this for a single split shift:
Total Pay at Minimum Wage + One Extra Hour at Minimum Wage - Total Pay at Regular Hourly Rate = Split Shift Premium
Let’s go over this step by step and look at an example:
- First, figure out their pay for the day at your rate: Multiply the total number of hours that your employee worked by their hourly rate.
- Second, find their pay for the day at the minimum wage rate: Calculate what they should be paid for their total hours worked using the state or local minimum wage, whichever is greater. Add an hour at the minimum wage rate.
- Then…adjust their pay: If the employee makes more in the second calculation (min. wage + extra hour) than their normal hourly rate for the day, the difference between these amounts is what you owe them as a split shift premium. If their regular hourly rate for the day is higher than the minimum wage calculation, you do not owe a premium.
Let’s take a look at this in practice. An employee works in your San Francisco restaurant from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., then again from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. The local minimum wage is $16.99 per hour, but your team member is an experienced server, so you pay them $18 per hour.
This employee is owed $144 at their standard hourly wage for their eight-hour shift:
$18 x 8 = $144
San Francisco’s minimum wage is higher than California’s state minimum wage, so you'll need to calculate against it. At minimum wage, the employee should make $152.91 for their workday:
$16.99 x 8 = $135.92 required minimum pay
But you’ll need to add an extra hour to account for that split shift.
$135.92 + $16.99 (one extra hour of minimum wage) = $152.91
That's the required minimum with the split shift premium.
Now we find the differential:
$152.91 - $144 = $8.91 additional pay
You owe the employee an extra premium of $8.91 on their paystub. But why do all this math yourself? Payroll software like Hourly can automatically calculate split shift pay for your employees, so you never have to crunch the numbers yourself.
Do Any Other States Have their Own Split Shift Rules?
Don't live in California? Here are some split shift rules from other states you might want to be aware of:
District of Columbia
Like in California, Washington DC employees are entitled to an additional hour of pay at minimum wage if they work a split shift. The break between their shifts needs to be longer than one hour and employees who live on-site are exempt.
There aren’t any specific split shift laws in Illinois. But employers should be aware that the Chicago Fair Workweek Ordinance means that employers can’t schedule staff to work if they have not had a 10-hour or longer break since their last shift.
For nonexempt, hourly employees in the service industry, New York has some specific rules around split shift pay.
If the start and end of an employee’s workday are more than 10 hours apart, they are entitled to spread of hours pay. An extra hour at New York’s minimum wage is owed in this case.
Oregon also requires that employees have a minimum 10-hour break between their shifts. If these team members need to report to work earlier than this, they must be paid time and a half for that next shift.
What Are the Benefits of Split Shifts?
Scheduling split shifts may require a little more work (and math!) on your end. But, there are a few advantages that make it well worth considering.
- Better work-life balance: With more time in their day, employees are able to run errands or work around other commitments that they have in their schedules. Childcare schedules can be difficult to manage if you work full-time hours, but split shifts make the school or daycare run much easier. For example, the employee could do school pickup and then return to work for an evening shift when their partner is home from their job.
- Higher employee productivity: Giving your staff an extended break during their workday means that when they come back to finish their shift, they’re refreshed and ready to get back to work.
- Lower labor costs: Having too many employees at work when it’s quiet is a needless expense. Instead, split shifts allow you to budget around your busiest times to keep your labor costs low in the slow moments of the day.
How Do You Schedule a Split Shift?
When you’re thinking about employee scheduling, it’s important to have a good understanding of your business’s peak traffic hours to make sure that you have the right number of staff on duty to help your customers.
But it’s also helpful to know a little about your team members individually. Your team members with young children may benefit from having a break around 2 or 3 p.m. to be able to get their children from school.
On the other hand, for employees with long commute times, a split shift may be more of a hindrance than a help. Going back and forth from home to work four times in one day could take up hours of their time.
Before making any big shift changes, talk to your employees to make sure that the new plans work for them.
Hourly can make managing schedules and payroll even easier. Workers can easily track their hours with the click of a button and you can get insights into exactly how much you’re spending on labor in real-time.
Are There Any Legal Requirements for Split Shift Scheduling?
Split shifts must always be planned ahead of time. If an employee comes to you asking for an extra hour for lunch that day, that can’t be considered a split shift.
The same is true if they need to leave early for a personal emergency and offer to work a second shift or an additional hour later in the week.
It’s up to you as the manager to decide whether or not that’s allowed, but you can’t put that time down as a split shift. Instead, you’ll pay the employee their standard pay rate for any time that they’re clocked in.
Rethink Your Employee's Workdays
Running a business already comes with plenty of logistics. Adding in split shifts may feel like another headache to deal with, but a little extra work upfront can save you time and money.
There could be some unexpected benefits too. The funds you save from giving your employees a break in the middle of their work could be enough to hire an extra person or two for the busier shifts later in the day.
More people to take on the work means less pressure on your existing team members, which usually results in happier employees. And when your employees are happy, they're less likely to jump ship to another business. So, what do you have to lose?
1. Introducing Yourself
Your introductory email needs to pack a lot of information into a small package. Try something like this:
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My name is John Doe and I work for ABC Agency, where we provide business insurance policies to many of Dallas' rockstar small businesses.
Congratulations on your new business, Jane's Bakery. Are you wondering if you have all the insurance you need? Or if your policies will really cover you in a pinch?
At ABC Agency, we pride ourselves on providing robust, comprehensive coverage options to companies like yours with flexible, pay-as-you-go plans.
Are you available this week to talk more about how we can help? I can help you find the most affordable rates and the best policies out there.
I look forward to speaking with you soon.
2. Presenting a Quote
Once you've met with your potential client, a quick reply with their quote will get the ball rolling.
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Thanks so much for meeting with me this morning. I loved touring Jane's Bakery–I can still smell those delicious chocolate chip cookies baking! You have a great location, and I'm sure you're going to do great on Front St.
After reviewing my notes, I've pulled together an insurance quote for you (attached). I recommend a business owner's policy. A BOP includes several insurance products in one: liability, property insurance, and business interruption insurance. It offers robust coverage at a competitive price.
I'll call you in a few days to see what you think about this insurance plan. In the meantime, if you have any questions, don't hesitate to email me or call me at [phone number].
Again, thank you for your time today. I look forward to working with you in the future.
3. Thanks for Purchasing a Policy
Gratitude is important! It's never a bad idea to thank your clients for their business.
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Thank you for choosing a business owner's policy with ABC Agency. We know it's so important to get the right coverage for your business, and we are honoured you've placed your trust in us.
We're excited to work closely with you, and our no. 1 goal is to make sure you're business is always protected.
Do you have any questions? We are here to help. Reach out whenever something comes to mind.
Thank you again for choosing ABC Agency to insure Jane's Bakery.
4. Welcome Email
A welcome email helps clients feel like you're there to help–and can softly pitch other insurance products you offer.
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Welcome to the ABC family! We are thrilled to have you as a new customer and can't wait to meet all of your insurance needs.
As an independent insurance agency, we work with multiple insurance providers to find the best coverage options for all our customers. If you need any other type of insurance–like [include additional offerings unique to your agency, like life insurance, health insurance, home insurance or anything else]–we can help you too.
Do you want to discuss any of these policies?
5. Introducing a New Product
A happy client may want to expand their business with you.
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I hope all is well with you and Jane's Bakery. I stopped in yesterday for a blueberry muffin and coffee, and they were delicious. I loved the hint of cinnamon in the muffin! Was that your idea?
I wanted you to be the first to know we are now offering commercial vehicle insurance to our policyholders. Auto insurance for your catering vans is super important since your personal car insurance won't cover them.
We're offering this insurance coverage solely to our current business clients at the moment and have some very competitive rates.
Would you like me to work up a quote for you?
As always, thanks so much for being a part of the ABC family.
6. Asking For Referrals
Once your relationship is established and comfortable, let your clients help you grow.
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You've been a valuable member of the ABC family for two years now, and we so appreciate your business–not to mention the muffins you supply for our monthly meetings!
Because you are a valued policyholder, I wanted to ask a quick favour. I know you are active in the local Chamber of Commerce, and I'm hoping you might know some colleagues who would benefit from working with our insurance company.
Referrals are one of the most effective ways to connect with our community since people really trust their friends, family and colleagues. Is there anyone you'd recommend I speak with?
Remember that in addition to business insurance products, we offer everything from life insurance policies to pet insurance.
As a thank you for your help, we will send you an Amazon gift card of $100 when your referrals buy insurance from us.
Thanks so much for your help!
7. Policy Renewal
If your client needs to renew their policy with you, send an email like this:
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I hope you're doing well! What a year it's been—from being listed as one of the top 5 bakeries in Dallas to being an official vendor for the city—you have so much to be proud of.
Just a heads up that your business owner's policy is up for renewal soon and will expire on June 15, 2023.
If you're still happy with the coverage, we can easily renew it for you.
Do you have some time to chat this week?
Looking forward to serving you again!