Shift work

From ArticleWorld

Shift work is a variant of a traditional working day that makes use of all 24 hours during the day.


Structure of a shift

Shift work makes use of a 24-hour clock (as opposed to a traditional 9 a.m.-5 p.m. work day). A person’s work shift is the amount of time they work.

A day could be divided into three shifts, for example, running from 00:00 to 08:00, 08:00 to 16:00 and 16:00 to 24:00.

At times, complex schedules are used that allow employees to switch shifts or to operate over weekends or holidays (when there are usually four or more shifts).


  • First shift often refers to the day shift.
  • Second shift is the shift from late afternoon into the night.
  • Third shift is the night and early morning shift.
  • Graveyard shift is a popular nickname for the third shift (especially for radio presenters or those in retail).


It was once a key characteristic of the manufacturing industry since this industry maximizes profits when it operates on a 24-hour clock. It is a solution to paying overtime that allows companies to capitalize profits and increase production.

Shift work is generally unpopular among employees, in that it requires them to work during unpopular and inconvenient times, often disrupting their sleep with unconventional hours. For that reason, the pay must be competitive.

Typical industries

Today, shift work is popular in heavy industry like the manufacture of automobiles and textiles. It is also popular with convenience stores (or other consumer businesses that stay open for 24 hours) and is traditional in the armed forces. It is commonly seen in governmental employment and other fields that serve public safety and health (like the police or health, for example).

Health problems

In 2005 the American Family Physician published a report stating that shift work is associated with cluster headaches. It also disturbs natural sleep rhythms. Some studies have found that it leaves workers susceptible to heart disease.