What are Staggered Hours?

What are Staggered Hours?

What are staggered working hours and how can they help you gain more flexibility at work?

“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.”

― Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

Acceptance of Flexible Working moved more in a few weeks during March 2020 than in the entire decade before it.

The varying lock-down measures used to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 have seen Remote Working become the primary workstyle for hundreds of millions around the world. Case in point, Zoom has seen daily meeting participants jump from 10 million in December 2019 to 300 million in April this year.

As restrictions begin to be relaxed, another type of Flexible Working – Staggered Hours – are going to take centre stage in the next phase of restarting the economy.  Staggered hours are highlighted in the Government’s guidance to get people back to work and were mentioned by Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, as one of the measures companies should use to maintain social distancing.

So given it’s likely that lots of people will be working staggered hours, what are they and how do they work?

What are Staggered Hours?

Identified as one of the supported types of Flexible Working by the UK Government, Staggered Hours are when a company allows its employees to start and end their day at different times.  This can be structured where different start times are requested by the employer or variable where employees choose their schedule that best fits their needs.  Staggered hours are almost always performed on an agreed schedule giving the employer the ability to plan around when it can expect its workforce to be available.

Example of Staggered Hours

To avoid lots of staff entering the building and using the elevator at the same time, workers are asked to pick a time slot to come to work.  There are 30 minute slots made available from 7.30 to 10.30.  Depending on the time picked, the employee’s finish time is adjusted to match.

For example, Claire wants to attend work early so she can be at home when the kids are around after school.  Claire elects 7.30am as her start time and is therefore eligible to leave the office at 3.30pm based on her contracted hours.

How are they different to other Flexible Working Hours?

If you are looking for the ability to change your working hours without pre agreement with your employers, Flexitime or Flexi hours offers this where your employer sets a range of time you can attend and you decide daily at your discretion.

There are other flexi hours arrangements but they tend to be less common or applicable to a particular work style, like shifts.

  • Compressed hours – this works by reducing the days you work by compressing the amount you must work into fewer days.  For example working four days of nine hours, vs five days of seven.
  • Annualised hours – this is where you must work a certain amount of hours over the year but with some flexibility about when those hours are worked.  These are generally offered where there is seasonal demand requiring more people to work a particular part of the year.
  • Term time hours – this requires the employee to work during the term time of the school but then has the school holidays free without the need to work.

Benefits of Staggered Hours?

Staggered hours are a good option if you want certainty over the pattern you work.  If you want to plan for activities outside of work, staggered hours give you the opportunity to agree the schedule you will be working and then stick to it via a formal agreement with your employer.

Given that staggered hours are part of the post Covid-19 return to work planning, getting a flexible hours pattern that you want may soon be possible. If you secure the hours that work well for you now, it’s much more likely to be something you can retain with your employer long term as you will have shown it’s a pattern that can work for them and you.

Additional resources

Staggered hours are a recognised type of flexible working in the UK Government Guidance.