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Q&A – Do shiftworkers make more money going from an 8-hour schedule to a 12-hour schedule?



Most economic analyses find that switching from an 8- to a 12-hour schedule will increase wages for workers by about 2 percent. This extra 2 percent arises from the fact that the shiftworker will typically work half his or her weeks with 52 pay hours (i.e., 40 hours straight time and 8 hours time and a half) and the other half with 36 hours of straight time.

However, if cost neutrality is predetermined during the schedule design process, the increase in pay can be prevented.

One of the factors to be aware of when making this change is how overtime is handled. For example, in some agreements between a company and the local union(s), overtime is paid for any work over 8 hours in a given day.  While this is not federal law, it is often a binding agreement between the union and management.

In this situation, we’ve often found that this can be waived if the shiftworkers’ desire for 12-hour shifts is strong enough that they are willing to agree to cost neutrality. Federal law requires that overtime must only be paid on hours greater than 40 hours in the specified work week.

Note: Some states have different requirements related to overtime and 12-hour shifts. Make sure you understand the laws that affect overtime in your state. 

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