JOURNAL ARTICLE

Compensation for unfavorable characteristics of irregular individual shift rotas

Peter Knauth, Detlev Jung, Winfried Bopp, Patric C Gauderer, Andreas Gissel
Chronobiology International 2006, 23 (6): 1277-84
17190712
Some employees of TV companies, such as those who produce remote TV programs, have to cope with very irregular rotas and many short-term schedule deviations. Many of these employees complain about the negative effects of such on their wellbeing and private life. Therefore, a working group of employers, council representatives, and researchers developed a so-called bonus system. Based on the criteria of the BESIAK system, the following list of criteria for the ergonomic assessment of irregular shift systems was developed: proportion of night hours worked between 22 : 00 and 01 : 00 h and between 06 : 00 and 07 : 00 h, proportion of night hours worked between 01 : 00 and 06 : 00 h, number of successive night shifts, number of successive working days, number of shifts longer than 9 h, proportion of phase advances, off hours on weekends, work hours between 17 : 00 and 23 : 00 h from Monday to Friday, number of working days with leisure time at remote places, and sudden deviations from the planned shift rota. Each individual rota was evaluated in retrospect. If pre-defined thresholds of criteria were surpassed, bonus points were added to the worker's account. In general, more bonus points add up to more free time. Only in particular cases was monetary compensation possible for some criteria. The bonus point system, which was implemented in the year 2002 for about 850 employees of the TV company, has the advantages of more transparency concerning the unfavorable characteristics of working-time arrangements, incentive for superiors to design "good" rosters that avoid the bonus point thresholds (to reduce costs), positive short-term effects on the employee social life, and expected positive long-term effects on the employee health. In general, the most promising approach to cope with the problems of shift workers in irregular and flexible shift systems seems to be to increase their influence on the arrangement of working times. If this is not possible, bonus point systems may help to achieve greater transparency and fairness in the distribution of unfavorable working-time arrangements within a team, and even reduce the unnecessary unfavorable aspects of shift systems.

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