Does a Compressed Workweek Work?

Posted by onepoint-admin on Jun 23, 2021 2:07:45 PM

Embracing flexible schedules can pay off in employee productivity, job satisfaction, and retention.
For those non-exempt employees, or those whose maximum work hours during a week or pay period are clearly delineated, there are several compressed work schedule models—from 8/80 or 9/80 to 3/12 [the latter two tailored for the healthcare industry]. A compressed work schedule means squeezing a full-time job’s weekly work hours into fewer than five days a week, such as an employee working four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days. 

Work flexibility has become a desirable benefit or perk for employees most notably during the pandemic. As employers start to sunset 100% remote work, compressed workweeks might be a useful strategy to have people in the office, but provide a compromise to meet new employee expectations. As Lauren Mason, a principal at Mercer, comments on flexible scheduling: “While all jobs may not be able to flex on where they work (e.g., remote working), all jobs can flex in some way—such as when they work, what they do, how the work is done or who does the work,” she says.


Compressed Workweek Options that Maintain Operations

  • 4/10 Weekly Schedule:

    A 4/10 compressed weekly work schedule is when an employee works four longer days or shifts in order to get the fifth day off each week. While they remain full-time, employees still clocking in at the standard 35 or 40 hours per week in a 4/10 schedule, they’re reallocating the hours across four days instead of five every week.
  • 9/80 Bi-weekly Schedule:

    In this scenario spread over a two-week pay period, employees work 80 hours over the course of nine days, where the employee works 9 hours a day for four days of the first week and then 8 hours on the fifth day. For the second week, employees work 9 hours a day for four days again and then receive a day off for that fifth day. This flexible schedule works out to 80 hours of paid work spread over two weeks, but results in two full  days off over a 4-week span. Most commonly, the days off are arranged to be on Fridays or Mondays so that employees can benefit from three-day weekends. Remember that in this scenario, despite working over 40 hours during the first week of the cycle, employees are NOT entitled to overtime pay.
  • 8/80 Bi-weekly Schedule:

    An alternative compressed work schedule option for hospital or residential care facility workers is the “8/80 rule”.  The 8/80 rule states that if an agreement (either written or verbally) is established, overtime pay can be earned when work hours exceed 8 during an individual workday over a 40-hour workweek, or exceed 80 hours over any recurring two-week period. As outlined, this needs to be agreed to expressly by both employer and employee.  Either way, the employee cannot double-dip, meaning one employee cannot switch between both rules. 
  • 3/12 Shift Schedule:

    Along the lines of the 8/80 rule and for those operating hospitals or healthcare system networks, there are creative ways to set up compressed work schedules for doctor or nursing shifts. One such method is the 3/12 format, where working three 12-hour shifts in one week results in receiving four days off. This allows medical professionals to not get overworked or physically and mentally drained, and offers a better work-life balance with more sustained personal time with family. It’s important to reinforce for employees who opt for this type of shift schedule though that there is a high probability of working multiple night shifts, which can cause sleep deprivation and over-exhaustion, or can even contribute to depression referred to as “night shift blues”.


Implementing compressed work schedules sounds great, but may present challenges if time is not tracked properly.  Due to the increased number of daily work hours, employers can run into wage and hour issues and unexpected overtime if timesheets aren’t tracked accurately.  Before adjusting the schedules of your non exempt employees, be sure to check your state wage and hour laws.  Some states have specific mandates surrounding alternative workweeks  or restrict the allowance based on the industry.  Managers and administrators need tools to show they are following the Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA, and meeting employee break and overtime rules.  

Compressed workweeks also introduce personnel challenges and administrative complexities that can fall on the HR and payroll team. Think about these scenarios and how existing HR technology can support it while asking yourself the following questions:

  1. Do I have an easy way to track my non-exempt employees on a regular schedule AND those on a compressed schedule, or will I have to be running duplicate processes to manage this?
  2. Do I have an easy way to schedule my employees to make sure that customer service isn’t impacted due to certain employees having a compressed workweek?
  3. Will I be able to track and manage two sets of timesheets, pay rules, meal and rest breaks, accrual calculations, and so on?


When implementing any new workforce management strategy, it is important to understand the business impacts. Compressed work schedules add inherent complexity into a timekeeping process.  For example, the 4/10 alternative workweek must be voted in by employees, then obligates employers to guarantee the 10 hours a day and must be filed with the labor commissioner.  Also consider how to manage multiple employee groups with different time  calculations and the effort required to remain compliant. 


OnePoint is uniquely equipped to handle workforce complexities like compressed workweeks for several reasons. Our single database architecture uses profiles to apply views and rules to groups separately.  OnePoint is also a real-time system, meaning that data is fully calculated as it enters into the system.  The time and labor customization and rules eliminate extra work and compliance uncertainty managing different timesheets.  Managers and finance will have real-time rules calculating the appropriate time, leave accruals, required breaks, and overtime for each employee group.  This is just one of several scenarios where OnePoint helps clients configure right-sized solutions that meet evolving business needs.


OnePoint's HCM technology is dynamic, cloud-based HR software that is built on a single database that shares data across all of your applications. By configuring it to your company’s unique workflow and reducing the amount of time that your HR team spends performing time-consuming tasks, the automated time and labor management solution can integrate with the employee attestation tool and your company’s existing data collection source. Thus, it seamlessly gives managers the ability to improve employee monitoring to reduce compliance risk for state and local labor laws, organization-specific policies, or even collective bargaining agreements for union workers.

Topics: Wage and Hour, Employee Engagement, Time and Labor, HCM Technology, Employee Scheduling, HR Administration