Definition of a Work Schedule

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A work schedule includes the days of the week and times of the day a particular employee is scheduled to work at a job. The traditional full-time work week in the United States involves five eight-hour days. However, many employers offer part-time and alternative schedules to cover their work needs and attract workers.

Traditional Shifts

  • Though the specific times vary, full-time U.S. workers often work three distinct shifts. Daytime schedules typically begin around 8 a.m. and go through 5 p.m., including a one-hour lunch. An evening shift usually runs from around 3 p.m. to midnight. Companies that have overnight shifts usually schedule them from around midnight to 8 a.m, with no dedicated meal break. In some workplaces, employees get scheduled for the same shift each day. In retail, it is common for full-time employees to work different shifts, such as the opening shift or closing shift.

Alternative Schedules

  • In addition to part-time work schedules, employers use a variety of alternative work schedules to attract talent. A compressed workweek involves four 10-hour days, for instance. Flex schedules allow employees to adjust their hours to an earlier or later shift, but core hours in the middle of the day are often required.

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