Editor's Note: Maintain a safe and productive workplace 24/7.

Marta MoakleyOverview: Shiftwork allows employers to provide needed services on a round-the-clock basis to consumers. Some industries, e.g., hospitals and law enforcement agencies, have traditionally scheduled shiftwork for their employees. However, with the rise of the global marketplace, many organizations have found shiftwork indispensable in providing service to European or Asian clients.

Supervisors may choose to negotiate special arrangements with certain employees regarding their shift schedules. Providing employees with flexibility in the scheduling of their work may aid in an organization's retention efforts. However, employers must ensure that less desirable shifts, such as irregular or night shifts, are assigned in a fair and nondiscriminatory manner.

Trends: Researchers continue to conduct studies regarding the health, safety and liability concerns regarding evening shifts, night shifts, rotating shifts and other irregular schedules. Researchers have found that employees working extended rotational shifts are prone to sleep disorders, gastrointestinal problems, fatigue and stress. Most alarmingly, research trends show a correlation between certain road hazards (i.e., car crashes) and employees who work long or irregular shifts.

Author: Marta Moakley, JD, Legal Editor

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