Compressed Work Schedule

What are common compressed work schedules and how to determine its suitability for your organisation.

What Is a Compressed Work Schedule

An arrangement in which an employee works full-time hours (e.g. 40 hours in a week), in fewer than the normal number of days per time period.

What Are Common Compressed Work Schedules

Examples of the various types of compressed work schedules are provided below:

4/40 Schedule

This is one of the most common schedules for employees or workmen not covered under Part IV of the Employment Act . Under a 4/40 schedule, employees work four 10-hour days and take the fifth day off (See example A below).

To ensure better coverage of responsibilities, some organisations may request that employees take two half days off instead of an entire day (See example B below).

If your employees or workmen are covered under Part IV of the Employment Act, you may consider a four and a half day workweek, where employees work four 9-hour days and one 4-hour day (See example C below).

Above: Examples A to C

A 4/40 schedule is most appropriate for office-based jobs that do not require many hours of overtime.

9/80 Schedule

The 9/80 schedule is designed for employees or workmen not covered under Part IV of the Employment Act . Under this schedule, employees work 80 hours in nine days. Most employees work eight 9-hour days and one 8-hour day. They then take the 10th day off.

Above: Example of 9/80 schedule

Compared to the 4/40 schedule, the 9/80 schedule offers more continuation in job responsibilities as employees take days off less frequently. Many organisations schedule days off on off-peak days.

12-hour Shift Schedule under a 3-week Cycle

Under this 3-week cycle, employees work longer hours in the day in exchange for fewer work days. For example, employees may work 48 hours on Week 1, 36 hours on Week 2 and 48 hours on Week 3. This works out to an average of 44 hours per week.

Above: Example of 12-hour shift schedule over a 3-week cycle

If your employees are covered under Part IV of the Employment Act , you must clearly explain to them how the schedule should be applied. Employees must agree to the terms before they are placed on the 12-hour shift schedule.

Some employers may also consider a 13-hour workday for office-based employees. However, under the Employment Act, this is not allowed for workmen earning up to $4,500 and non-workmen earning up to $2,500.

5-4/9 Schedule

In this schedule, employees work a week of five 9-hour days followed by a week of four 9-hour days. This allows employees a day off every other week.

Above: Example of a 5-4/9 Schedule

How to Determine the Suitability of Compressed Work Schedules

A compressed work schedule may not be suitable for your organisation if your work involves set hours or daily deadlines. Compressed work schedules may also be unsuitable if all your employees need to be present at the job site at all times.

To further determine the suitability of compressed work-schedules in your organisation, you should:

  • Take note of statutory guidelines on hours worked and periods of rest required for employees under the Employment Act.
  • Conduct a projected cost-benefit analysis before starting a pilot study or trial period.
  • Complete our sample checklist on factors to consider for compressed work schedules (PDF).
  • Provide employees with a self-assessment (PDF) to evaluate the suitability of a compressed work schedule arrangement.

If the barriers to compressed work schedule cannot be resolved, you may consider other types of flexible work arrangements.