Work Time Management··5 min read

Split Shifts: Quick Overview. How to handle and manage split shifts.

Split Shifts: Quick Overview. How to handle and manage split shifts.

For restaurant managers, bar managers, and retail supervisors, scheduling employees around busy periods and rush hours is one of the primary challenges. As a manager, you want to make sure you have enough staff during short periods of increased sales, but you don’t want to have a high labor cost during the slow periods.

One way to combat this problem is by having employees working split shifts. Having a split shift schedule has its advantages and disadvantages, but let’s break it down and see if this could work in your business.

What are Split Shifts?

A split shift is a regular workday that’s interrupted by an extended unpaid period. For example, these shifts are increasingly popular in food and beverage because of the peak periods of sales followed by slow periods during the middle of the day.

An employee's shift might run something like this. They come in and work a lunch shift from 11 am until 2 pm. Following their initial shift, they might have to clock out until 4 pm and work the dinner shift. While they might work a standard eight hour day, their day is separated by a two-hour unpaid gap.

This scheduling strategy is a great way to ensure you have enough staff during the busy periods of the day and less during the slow times.

Who Gets a Split Shift Premium and How Much?

money in hand

Any employee who works on a split shift schedule is entitled to a split shift premium. This premium is equal to an hour of the employee’s minimum wage pay, and the premium gets added to their regular pay for the day.

To give you an idea of how split shift pay works, here’s a general breakdown.

If the employee receives $11.75 per hour and they work from 11 am - 2 pm, followed by 4 pm - 9 pm; that is a total of eight hours.

If the minimum wage in the state is $11.00 per hour, they’ll receive an offset portion of the total amount earned.

You would take that $.75 times eight hours equalling $6.00. You’ll then subtract that $6.00 from the $11.00 split shift minimum wage.

  • Hourly Wage: $11.75
  • Hours Worked: Eight Hours
  • Split Shift Wage: $11.00
  • Offset: $.75 x 8 hours = $6.00

$11.00 - $6.00 = $5.00 is the split shift premium

Important Points to Remember About Split Shift Pay

inside the restaurant food tables lamps

Here are some important things to keep in mind regarding split shift pay. First, employers do not have to pay a split shift premium if the employee lives at their place of employment. If they have an apartment above the restaurant or bar, they’re not entitled to a split shift premium.

If the employee voluntarily comes back to work to pick up another shift, they are not entitled to a split shift premium.

Split shift law says that premiums do not interfere with any overtime pay requirements. When the employee receives split shift pay, it does not count towards their hours worked, so it doesn’t work against their overtime opportunities.

Employers need to keep accurate records of start and stop times regarding split shifts. If you’re an employer, you must also track their split shift pay and hours worked. The individual split shift differential must get itemized on the employee's pay stub.

Advantages of Implementing a Split Shift Schedule

In this section, let’s talk about some of the pros and cons of operating on a split shift schedule. We’ll talk about some of the points regarding you as the employee and also some of the benefits to the employee as well.

Cost Control

The most obvious advantage of split shifts for employers is labor cost control. You have peaks and valleys of business throughout your day, and it’s essential to keep the necessary employees on the clock while the other ones sit out for a while.

This strategy is incredibly prevalent in the restaurant business. Many restaurant managers will have their servers or bartenders work split shifts so they can take them off the labor during slow periods and bring them back when they’re needed again.


Many people would think that a split shift would hurt productivity, but we find it has quite the opposite. The extra time in the middle of the employee's day allows them to recharge their batteries or maybe even run a few errands so they can go straight home after work.

Productivity decreases as the day wears on, so an employee who works a straight eight hours is usually burnt out by the last two hours. With a split shift, you give your employees a chance to refresh and come back ready to work the second half of their day.

Work/ Life Balance

One of the primary advantages for employees is the balance of work and play. Split shifts often allow employees to run errands, as we previously mentioned. They might even have the time to pick up a child from school or daycare and bring them to a family member's house during their break.

The reason this is so great is that it doesn’t cut into their hours. They’re not leaving and losing pay for it. The employee receives their full day of pay, plus they get to honor their commitments outside of work.

Considering a Split Shift Schedule?

If you’re considering using this type of schedule in your business, be sure to keep all the points outlined above in mind. You could even try it out and see how it works. Make sure to follow all split shift law regarding premiums and record keeping.

You’ll also want to keep in mind some of the complications you may face when it comes to scheduling your employees, so you have the right amount of labor force at all times.

Either way, a split shift strategy is a great way to keep your labor costs in check while increasing the productivity of your workforce.

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