Shift patterns for 24/7 continuous shiftworking can be based on any number of teams from 3 upwards depending on requirements. Note that, in some cases, a team might consist of just one person.

Hours per week

Assumptions:

  • a constant number of staff (ie. a team) required throughout the week
  • no handovers between shifts
  • paid mealbreaks

Number of hours to be covered each week = 7 days x 24 hours = 168 hours
Average hours rostered per team per week = 168 / number of teams.

4 teams

The traditional method is to use 4 teams with an average of 42 hours per team per week. There are a number of ways of managing absence:

  • Choose a team size big enough to absorb a proportion of absence. The problem is, by how much should the team size be increased? For small teams, an increase of just one person can be proportionately more than the average expected absence. You also have to take account of different skills and grades. Because the level of absence will vary from one day to the next, some days there will be more in the team than needed, other days less.
  • Use overtime to cover absence. However, the week is already based on 42 hours and, if all absence is covered in this way, the average weekly hours, including overtime, could exceed , for example, the European Working Time Directive (EWTD) maximum of 48 hours.
  • Provide cover from outside the group (eg. within the company or through an agency)
  • Combinations of all the above

5 teams

An increasingly common alternative to 4 teams is to use 5 teams, which has an operational requirement of just 33.6 hours per team per week. In these systems there are different methods for using the "spare" hours, the difference between the weekly contracted hours and 33.6.

  • annualised hours, in which a person is contracted to work a given number of hours per year and typically has fully or partially rostered holiday.."Owed" hours, the difference between contracted and rostered, can be used to cover absence and other operational requirements. Often a more efficient way of managing absence than the 4 team systems.
  • use of a float (reserve, relief) team to cover holiday, sickness and other absence or operational requirements
  • additional rostered spare shifts
  • longer shifts with overlaps (handovers)

4.5 teams

In some circumstances, a 4.5 team system, requiring 37.3 hours per team per week,  can be a viable alternative to a 4 or 5 team system, which need 42 or 33.6 hours respectively. The weekly hours figure can be increased by rostering additional shifts or handovers between shifts, or decreased, if mealbreaks are unpaid.

The system actually consists of 9 half-teams. Each day, on each shift, two half-teams come together to form a full team. The composition of teams can therefore vary from one day to the next which may have implications on the skill mix and supervisory cover

3.5 teams

A 3.5 team system is based on 48 hours per team per week, which is on the European Working Time Directive (EWTD) limit. The system actually consists of 7 half-teams and is only viable with 12-hour and not 8-hour shifts.  Each day, on each shift, two half-teams come together to form a full team. The composition of teams can therefore vary from one day to the next which may have implications regarding the skill mix and supervisory cover.

3 teams

A straight 3 team system is based on 56 hours per team per week, which is in excess of the European Working Time Directive (EWTD) limit of 48 hours. The weekly hours are usually reduced by rostering additional rest days which means operating with part-shifts for some or all of the week. This may have implications regarding the skill mix and supervisory cover

6 teams

A 6 team system requires just 28 hours per team per week. In a similar way to 5 teams but with more options,  there are different methods for using the "spare" hours, the difference between the weekly contracted hours and 28.

  • annualised hours, in which a person is contracted to work a given number of hours per year and typically has fully or partially rostered holiday.."Owed" hours, the difference between contracted and rostered, can be used to cover absence such as sickness, unrostered holiday, or rostering additional shifts.
  • use of a float (reserve, relief) team to cover holiday, sickness and other absence or operational requirements sometimes  in conjunction with additional rostered shifts
  • additional rostered  shifts thus providing more than one team on shift for at least part of the week.
  • longer shifts with overlaps (handovers)

Others

Essentially, any number of teams from 3 upwards can be used to cover 24/7 depending on requirements. Usually, if 6 or more are needed it is because there is variable demand through the week.  If you need any help with deciding how many teams are needed constructing a shift pattern then contact us with your requirements and we will give you advice and, if appropriate, provide you with a quote.