The following are some of the standard shift systems for discontinuous operations. A discontinuous operation is one which does not cover 24 hours a day but can cover up to 7 days a week.

Staggered days

  • A day shift can cover the work each day but more than 5 days need to be covered
  • An example covering Monday to Saturday - two teams alternating between weeks consisting of Monday to Friday and Tuesday to Saturday.
  • Note that, in the above example, Tuesday to Friday are fully staffed up with two teams, whereas Monday and Saturday are at half-strength with just one team.
  • Alternative approaches include using a separate group of workers at the weekend or covering weekends with overtime.

Day and twilight

  • Two shifts, day and twilight, usually covering Monday to Friday
  • A twilight shift is a short shift that starts in the early evening, usually to coincide with the finish of the day shift, and normally finishes before midnight
  • It is generally used to boost production without resorting to the expense of a double-day or day and night system

Two-shift overlapping

  • Two overlapping day shifts, Monday to Friday
  • For example, two teams on alternating weeks of 08:00 to 16:00 and 10:00 to 18:00, Monday to Friday
  • Note that both teams are present through the overlap of the shifts, 10:00 to 16:00 which, hopefully, coincides with the busy part of the day.
  • Mealbreaks for one team can be covered by the other


  • Two shifts each day, an early and late
  • Typical period covered each day = 16 hours (for example, early:06:00-14:00 and late: 14:00-22:00)
  • Up to 7 days of the week can be covered
  • Common example covering 5 days, Monday to Friday: two teams alternating between a week of earlies and a week of lates
  • Note that, in the above example, the Friday late shift is often shortened in order to generate the required number of contracted hours per week. Sometimes it is not worked at all (4.5 day cover or 9-day fortnight)

Days and nights

  • Two shifts, day and night, typically covering 4.5 or 5 days a week
  • Two teams alternating between a week of days and a week of nights
  • Alternative approach is to have two separate groups working dedicated days and nights
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