Overview: People are healthier and more productive with predictable schedules and consistent sleep patterns. Without these, stress, anxiety and accompanying sickness can result. When the inconsistent schedule is the result of the work environment, it is often called Shift Work Disorder.
Shift Work Disorder is an ailment developed by many shift workers who do not have set patterns to their work schedules. Having night shifts mixed with day shifts, long shifts followed by short shifts, weekend shifts and weekday shifts without any pattern can be stressful and can make it difficult to sleep because of a lack of consistency.
Employers can help prevent this disorder by issuing consistent schedules and making employees' work-life balanced and predictable. When employees are given consistency, they are healthier and better able to perform the functions of the job.
Trends: Part-time work, job sharing and other forms of nontraditional workloads are gaining in popularity. While taking advantage of these work formats can be beneficial, employers should still strive to create norms within the various job descriptions.
Author: Melissa Gonzalez Boyce, JD, Legal Editor
Updated to reflect US Department of Labor (DOL) regulations concerning the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA).
Employment glossary definition of Shift Work Disorder.