9/80 work schedule

9/80 Work Schedule: Definition, Pros, and Cons

With remote and asynchronous work on the rise, companies rethink their employee scheduling techniques and culture. Many have turned to the 9/80 work schedule to create a better work-life balance.

Work-life balance is the holy grail for remote employees, but few employers have mastered it. With many teams losing talented employees in the Great Resignation, even companies impervious to the pandemic have realized the importance of employee mental health.

Companies like Kickstarter have taken the lead by implementing the 9/80 work schedule — allowing employees to work a four-day workweek every other week.

Before you consider saying goodbye to the traditional nine-to-five, let's look at all the details that go into this new schedule.

What is a 9/80 work schedule?

The 9/80 work schedule is a two-week cycle with 80 work hours in nine days instead of ten. Of course, to cover 80 hours in nine days, employees will have a longer workday some days. Their reward is an extra day off every other week.

How does the 9/80 schedule work?

Here is what a 9/80 schedule looks like, assuming your team takes a 1-hour lunch break every day.

Week 1Week 2

Monday: 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM

Monday: 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM

Tuesday: 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM

Tuesday: 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM

Wednesday: 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM

Wednesday: 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM

Thursday: 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM

Thursday: 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM

Friday: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Friday: No work

Although these shifts are an hour longer than the average 9-5, employees enjoy the freedom of a long weekend every other week. Employers might even allow their employees to work four-hour shifts on the fifth day of each week.

How to manage payroll for a 9/80 schedule 

With a 9/80 work schedule, the working hours are broken down into two-week periods:

  • Week 1: Employees work five days. The first four days will be nine-hour shifts, but the fifth day will be a slightly shorter eight-hour day.

  • Week 2: Employees work four more nine-hour shifts. Instead of an eight-hour shift on their fifth day, they’ll get the day off.

Workdays are scheduled and billed in two weeks to avoid paying overtime.

An automated payroll tool is invaluable for teams, especially when working on an unconventional schedule. Payroll systems track hours accurately to avoid lawsuits and ensure companies aren’t paying overtime.

How to manage leave days for a 9/80 work schedule

Managing sick leave, vacation, and holidays is slightly different for a 9/80 schedule, but it’s not impossible to manage.

Employees who are ill Monday-Thursday will take a nine-hour sick day. If they are ill on Friday of week 1, they will take an eight-hour sick day. The same principle applies to vacation days.

For local and national holidays, leadership needs to take a different approach. For example, if New Year’s Day falls on a scheduled day off, employees are typically granted a holiday “credit day” to use in the calendar year. Another example would be if a holiday is on a Tuesday, this will count as an eight-hour holiday, with an additional one “credit hour” of PTO.

Advantages of the 9/80 work schedule

Four-day workweeks have positive effects on an employee’s productivity and mental health. Surprisingly, the average employee still works 38.7 hours per week.

That’s why companies like Kickstarter and Panasonic have made the switch. Here are the most important benefits an organization can reap from this alternative schedule:

  • Long weekends - Flexible work schedules can play a significant role in helping employees feel better rested. Employees on a 9/80 schedule get 26 three-day weekends throughout the year.

  • Stress management - Alternative work schedules help employers boost employee morale by valuing their time and giving them extra hours in their personal lives.

  • Increased productivity - A shorter work week with a few extra hours can increase productivity and efficiency in the workplace. Employee productivity is crucial for any organization and is supplemented by an improved work-life balance.

  • Work-life balance - Employees can manage childcare, health and wellness, and other household duties with a flexible work schedule.

  • Less commuting - An additional day off every other weekday means employees commute less. For employers, it’s a day that they can conserve power.

Disadvantages of the 9/80 work schedule

Though there are countless upsides to the 9/80 work schedule, there are still some negative aspects. Here are a few concerns to consider before implementing a nine-hour workday for your organization:

  • Long workdays - Nine-hour days are not something everyone's cut out for — or capable of doing. You might be forced into a traditional nine-five schedule in industries like childcare or education.

  • Staffing gaps - Having an extra day off each month goes a long way. That is until sick leave and staffing shortages force team members into ten days of work in a two-week period.

  • Unfavorable employee and customer retention - With 9-hour days, some employees will need help with productivity. Longer days can lead to burnout and customer retention issues..

The legality of a 9/80 work schedule

Overtime in a 9/80 work schedule

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) says that full-time employees working overtime should receive at least one and a half times their regular hourly rate over 40 hours a week.

In a 9/80 schedule, overtime is when your employee works more than 40 hours before noon on Friday. If this happens, managers must pay employees at least one and a half times their regular rate.

Overtime costs add up, so if you’re considering the 9/80 schedule, you’ll need to track hours carefully and pay employees for any overtime they work.

California Labor Code section 510

The California Labor Code section 510 specifies legal requirements for companies looking to implement a 9/80 work schedule. Here’s an overview:

  • 9/80 scheduling needs to be approved in a private ballot election by over two-thirds of employees.

  • The election results must be given to the California Division of Labor and Research.

  • If your team approves a 9/80 work schedule, employees fill out a form stating which day of the week they want off.

  • Employee’s scheduled day off is fixed and can’t be changed except for certain exempt cases.

We recommend you read the entire document before considering a 9/80 work schedule for your organization.

Tips and best practices for a 9/80 work schedule

Building a new two-week schedule following the 9/80 principle has benefits, but setting it up is the first step. Here are our tips for creating this new way of working:

  • Consult stakeholders - You’ll need to talk to your employees, team leads, and business partners and ensure buy-in before embarking on a new fixed schedule for your team.

  • Find a tool to help - You’ll need a time tracking tool to manage this new schedule, mainly because it is unique and different for your team. Time tracking tools can track clock-in and clock-out times, track work hours, and manage sick leave.

  • Consider logistics - You’ll need to consider what an updated work week involves for your team. What are the staff concerns? Should everyone get the same day off? What happens if someone on your team needs to take a sick day? It’s important to ask these questions before changing your team’s schedule.

Would the 9/80 schedule be beneficial for your business?

Now that you've seen the pros and cons of the 9/80 schedule, it's time to consider if it's right for your business operations. You can ask yourself these questions:

  • Are your clients closely tied to a traditional 9-5 schedule? Legal, banking, or education professional clients may connect your business to a conventional 9-5 schedule.

  • Does my team employ shift employees who require 24/7 coverage? Companies in the service-oriented industry or businesses with staffing gaps are less likely to benefit from the 9/80 work schedule.

  • Does my team have adequate measures in place to reduce burnout? Weekly trivia, virtual retreats, and no-meeting days are worth considering. These are just a few incentives to help employees recharge while on the clock.

These are just a few factors to consider when switching to a 9/80 schedule. Ultimately, the best way to ensure this scheduling change will lead to a productive and healthy work environment is to welcome input.

Ask your employees how they’d feel about a 9/80 schedule and if they think longer working hours are worth it. Set up a survey, hold a town hall, or simply invite feedback via Slack. Be open and honest with your team about other organizational benefits and concerns.

Alternatives to the 9/80 work schedule

The eight-hour workday works for most teams, but we have ideas if you’re open to exploring other options.

A 9/80 schedule isn’t the only way managers can offer their team a greater work-life balance; there are various options out there for changing your fixed work schedule.

  • Hybrid work schedules - a mixed work schedule, where employees work part-time from home and part-time in the office, can offer the greater work-life balance that a 9/80 schedule does while maintaining consistent business hours.

  • The Dupont shift schedule - Dupont is a popular scheduling option for police stations, health care facilities, and other 24/7 operations. In this schedule, four different teams work two 12-hour shifts.

  • 2-2-3 schedule - This is another method popular with 24/7 businesses. The 2-2-3 fixed work schedule uses a slow, 28-day rotation cycle where each employee works 12-hour shifts daily.

  • The 4-10 schedule - In a 4-10 schedule, teams work four ten-hour days and take one day off. This is also called a compressed workweek schedule. Longer hours can be hard for teams, but a four-day week has benefits.

The bottom line

Reimagining how you work can lead to a whirlwind of change and uncertainty — especially regarding work schedule types. Whether your team is looking to embrace flex scheduling or continue with traditional hours, payroll and time tracking tools can help manage your team automatically.

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