Software for your employee rotas could transform your business

Do you want a simple and cost-effective rota planning tool?

First published on Thursday, Jun 04, 2020

Last updated on Thursday, Mar 14, 2024

Customer expectations and the need for work-life balance are some factors that have led to what the Health and Safety Executive says is more than 3.5 million shift workers in the UK.

Shift work is no longer just for emergency and essential service workers. There’s been a growth in small businesses, like fast food shops and convenience stores providing round-the-clock service.

“Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.”
- Tony Robbins

With rota planning software, businesses can get to grips with shift planning to help them look after the health and safety of their staff.

What is shift work?

There’s no official legal definition of shift work. The Working Time Regulations (WTR) oversees working hours for most workers. The WTR state that shift work is:
“Where work is organised in shifts and workers hand-over to each other at the same workstation and follow specific patterns. Shift work is also when staff work at different times over certain periods of days or weeks.”

Shift working hours

Shift work is work done outside of standard daytime hours. Work carried out for an average of eight hours, between 7am and 7pm, is considered within standard daytime hours.
Your business operates a shift work model if you have:

  • Rotating work hours
  • Overtime
  • On-call or standby
  • A compressed working week with shifts of 12 hours or more
  • Split shifts

Night shift working

Night shift working is done between 11pm and 6am, for at least three hours. The exception is when there’s a written agreement between the employer and their staff to work for a different time period. In that case, the shift has to last seven hours and include work between midnight and 5am.
You’re required to offer a free health assessment before anyone starts to work at night and also while they’re working nights.
When rota planning, to comply with WTR recommendations, you should ensure that night workers aren’t scheduled to work for more than eight hours within a 24-hour period.
You must be able to prove that your night workers haven’t gone over the eight-hour limit by keeping records of working hours. You’ll need to keep these records for a minimum of two years.
If you’re responsible for shift planning for night workers, you can find out more about compliance issues from ACAS or your local authority’s environmental health department.

The risks of shift working

There’s evidence that shift work, especially night work, can be harmful to workers’ health.
Some of the side effects of shift work include:

  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Problems with appetite and digestion
  • Difficulties managing social relationships

Your workers are more likely to make mistakes if they’re fatigued. The consequences of exhaustion can range from a dip in productivity to serious accidents.
As a result, managing work shift calendars for staff who work outside of daytime hours has to be done very carefully.
When you’re managing erratic employee shifts, an effective shift schedule helps to safeguard your staff and your business. 

Good practice for scheduling shift work 

Absence shift planning is an important part of employee scheduling.
Here are some tips to help you better manage shift workers’ time off:

  • Try not to have workers on permanent night shifts.
  • Limit repeated working days to a maximum of five to seven.
  • Include free weekends on a regular basis.
  • Talk to your workers about changes you plan to make to their shifts.

You can use rota planning software to keep track of your staff and their shifts. That way, managing the work rota calendar will be as flexible as your staff’s working patterns.

Share this article

Have a question?

Ask away, we’ve got lightning fast answers for UK business owners and employers powered by qualified experts.

More on software for your employee rotas could transform your business

one employee in an empty office

Why use an online rota?

In the digital era, many new pieces of technology have allowed businesses to streamline their day-to-day business activities. One of the best new ...

Are there risks to shift work?

A number of studies have found that shift work and working at night can be damaging to your workers’ health. The Working Time Regulations 1998 ...

Paid VS free rota software

Scheduling software can make your business run perfectly. When you have the right system in place, you’ll know where all of your staff members are at ...

laptop and lillies

How to make a rota

One of the most important, but surprisingly difficult, tasks a business can do is create a work schedule. How to do a rota is a common concern for ...


Clocking in systems

Almost every business you can think of needs time and attendance systems to make sure employees are clocking in and out of work. But some systems ...

workers in a coffee shop

Managing absence for your workers

Managing authorised leave can be tricky, but things can get even more complicated when dealing with unscheduled time off. The complexity of absence ...

keyboard, diary and hand with pen

Shift work calendars

The right rota calendar brings calm to the chaos of organising your daily operations. Matching business needs with your employees’ preferred ways of ...

What is a timesheet?

Businesses use timesheets to keep track of the hours their employees work. They’re an excellent way to put responsibility in the hands of your ...

male pouring a latte in a bar

Shift patterns at work

You may refer to your shift plan as a rota or roster, but the result is the same for any working day—you need to schedule a solid pattern that helps ...