Most commonly, a pattern of discontinuous working time in which an employee’s time at work alternates between day shifts and night shifts. Occasionally it is applied to some types of continuous rota. The phrase is used to describe four different patterns of working time. Namely;

  1. Separate shifts. Rotas in which there are gaps between successive shifts worked. For example, with two rostered 8hr shifts a day, within each 24hr period there are 4hr gaps between the end of the Day shift and the start of the Night shift. Also there is a 4hr gap between the end of the Night shift and the start of the Day shift.
  2. Linked Nights to Days. Rotas in which Night shift is butt-ended with the following Day shift, and there is a gap from the end of the Day shift until the start of the next Night shift. For example, with two rostered 8hr shifts a day. There is a period a 16hrs cover from the start of the Night shift to the end of the Day shift, followed by an 8hr gap until the start of the next Night shift.
  3. Linked Days to Nights. Rotas in which Day shift is butt-ended with the following Night shift, and there is a gap from the end of the Night shift until the start of the next Day shift. For example, with two rostered 8hr shifts a day. There is a period a 16hrs cover from the start of the Day shift to the end of the Night shift, followed by an 8hr gap until the start of the next Day shift.
  4. Continuous. No gap between successive rostered Day and Night shifts. Could be continuous system providing 24hrs cover for seven days a week, or a semi-continuous system providing periods of continuous cover for less than seven days a week.
Alternating Days and Nights