Labor laws and shift work

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Labor laws and shift work

Postby Digitalgypsy66 on Thu Jan 09, 2014 12:44 pm

I know we have some smart people on here, and I'm not sure if this topic will devolve into a political discussion, but here goes:

I've got a good friend who is a skilled machinist. He currently works in a factory with a weird schedule: 3 12 hour shifts, two days off, and then one more 12 hour shift. He applied for, and got an offer to work for another company, slightly closer to home. The catch is their current work production schedule is - get this - 21 days of 8 hour shifts (in a row) with 2 days off. Then another 21 days... This company plans to keep this schedule for at least 2 more years. He has a friend that has worked at company 2 for a few years and said that he was lucky to get 1 day off a month the first year there, because of others calling off and so on. Company 2 is adopting a program where if you get 8 call-offs in a rolling calendar year, you can be terminated.

Keep in mind that this is in South Carolina, a right to work state with little or no union presence. My friend says that this is why they can get away with this.

My question is not whether he should take this job, but can anyone tell me the benefits of working someone 21+ days in a row at a monotonous, repetitive job? After about day 10 or 11, wouldn't performance drop?

As an eggheaded academic with only golf caddying and food service jobs (other than my current career in a college library) in my background, this type of thing is completely alien to me.
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Re: Labor laws and shift work

Postby ulf on Thu Jan 09, 2014 12:45 pm

Depends how much he gets paid/has a family/wants days off
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Re: Labor laws and shift work

Postby Digitalgypsy66 on Thu Jan 09, 2014 1:00 pm

He says the money is "good" but I didn't get into specifics. He has young children that are active in all kinds of activities, and this would obviously cut into that.

I've just never heard of working 21 days in a row...unless you are deployed military.
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Re: Labor laws and shift work

Postby DudeMan2766 on Thu Jan 09, 2014 1:06 pm

I have a friend that took a job with a oil/gas company within the past year, not real sure what he does exactly, but his schedule is 14 days (12hr shifts) then 14 days off. With the OT he banks on that Im guessing he's upwards to 80K+ a year. Having a desk job pretty much my entire life, I could not see myself doing that, even for the money and the 2 weeks off a month. He's great during his time off but I can tell after a few days into his 14 day grind he is completely miserable.
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Re: Labor laws and shift work

Postby dodint on Thu Jan 09, 2014 1:09 pm

I did something like this at an injection molding company at the airpark in Latrobe. Every month all employees marked a calendar for the 4 days off out of the month they wanted off. What was even worse was they never mentioned this during the interview (I never asked, young and dumb). I made it about a week and realized it wasn't for me.

Not to derail the thread, but since it was brought up, I did two year long deployments as a Marine. One to Iraq and one to Afghanistan. I got 15 days off in the middle to fly home, but other than that it was the same **** everyday all year. It really wasn't actually all that hard because being there you were isolated from your personal life and had absolutely nothing better to do than work, workout, or go to school online if you were lucky enough (I was). As long as I could talk to my wife from time to time and make sure she was sane, working every single day built a rhythm that actually worked out really well. When you have no expectation of time off it's surprisingly easy to work. That said, by the end of the year the entire squadron is on pins and needles. The Army does 18-month deployments which seems insane to me.
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Re: Labor laws and shift work

Postby Digitalgypsy66 on Thu Jan 09, 2014 3:18 pm

My great uncle left a few weeks after his high school graduation in 1940 for Basic Training, and other than a couple of weeks here and there before shipping to England in 1943, he was deployed until early 1946. He was young and dumb (his words), with no wife and kids, so it was a big adventure. The military learned about combat effectiveness and sought to reduce the length of combat deployments. By Vietnam, they had it down to a year. But I guess with man(and woman) power shortages, they went back up to 18 months. Sigh.

Interesting thoughts on this. Like I said, it was very foreign to me. I don't think I could cut it, even for a "good" salary. I like my 37.5 hour weeks and 20 vacation days. :lol:
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Re: Labor laws and shift work

Postby dodint on Thu Jan 09, 2014 3:24 pm

Theres so much to talk about there. I've given that kind of thing a lot of thought through the years. Maybe I'll make a new thread on it someday when I really write it out.
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Re: Labor laws and shift work

Postby mac5155 on Thu Jan 09, 2014 4:09 pm

My buddy also does the roughneck work on a gas drilling rig. 14 days of 12 hours on 12 hours off, then 14 days off. Would be lovely on the days off, but suck on the days on.
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Re: Labor laws and shift work

Postby tifosi77 on Thu Jan 09, 2014 4:26 pm

South Carolina sounds like a hoot.... they don't even have a requirement for employers to provide breaks or lunch times.
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Re: Labor laws and shift work

Postby columbia on Thu Jan 09, 2014 4:27 pm

Right to work, bro. ;)
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Re: Labor laws and shift work

Postby KennyTheKangaroo on Thu Jan 09, 2014 4:37 pm

You can't treat the working man this way! One of these days we'll form a union, and get the fair and equitable treatment we deserve! Then we'll go too far, and become corrupt and shiftless, and the Japanese will eat us alive!

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Re: Labor laws and shift work

Postby TheHammer24 on Thu Jan 09, 2014 4:54 pm

The schedule sucks, but if it the pay compensates for that, then I would take it. It seems like a really personal decision. And if its hourly, then they have to pay him OT, which could be a significant salary boon. I don't think there are any advantages to working in a job that one wouldn't much enjoy aside from salary.
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Re: Labor laws and shift work

Postby PensFanInDC on Thu Jan 09, 2014 5:03 pm

I definitely misread "shift"
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Re: Labor laws and shift work

Postby Geezer on Thu Jan 09, 2014 5:12 pm

There are federal laws governing OT pay, etc. If your friend doesn't like that companies' schedule then he shouldn't take the job. With that work schedule he's going to get time and a half for at least 16 hours per week; more if they have to work holidays. There is no issue here.
The plant I worked at for the last 25 years of my career job was unionized and had the biggest collection of crybabies I've ever seen. I left in forced retirement after the company had several years of financial losses along with numerous other salaried workers who had 20+ years and were on the wrong side of 60. What's funny is the union is suddenly ready to act responsibly and recognize economic reality way too late to do any good. They lost about 40% of the hourly jobs.That company you refer to could likely get a line of job seekers a mile long whenever they hire.
A Rockwell plant in my hometown closed down years back during the collapse of manufacturing in the 70's - 90's. My cousin and uncle worked there along with various friends. Their schedule was 7 days per week all year. You had Xmas,Thanksgiving and your vacation off.; you worked 56 hours per week for however long you were employed. Guys tried their best to get hired because you were well paid.
Personally I worked 7 days a week for nearly 10 tears. I worked my regular M-F job and had a weekend job for 2 10 hour shifts. I had one kid still at home and went to his ball games, school events and plenty more. If you work 8 hours on a day you can't be a parent that day? What a crock. The modern work ethic is depressing for the future of our country. We now need bank hour job schedules and should pay $15 and hour to sell french fries. I guess mandatory work naps with milk and cookies are next.
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Re: Labor laws and shift work

Postby mac5155 on Thu Jan 09, 2014 5:20 pm

you think we can seriously get those milk and cookies? :pop:
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Re: Labor laws and shift work

Postby Digitalgypsy66 on Thu Jan 09, 2014 5:23 pm

I hear ya, Geezer. Personally, I work a lot more than 37.5 hours a week. Probably closer to 50, heavier during our busy times - beginnings of semester and exam times. My parents own a bakery where I worked ridiculous hours before going back to school in 2005. I made a decision not to work 80+ hours a week, often during Christmas and Thanksgiving, so I could enjoy holidays with my kids. My current employer is good about swapping schedules to get to kids' games, plays, and so on. I'll be eating lunch with my older son tomorrow (albeit at 10:30 in the morning, which could be the topic for another post :lol: ), which is a small, but nice thing to be able to do.

My Dad was a manager of an IHOP type restaurant in New Hampshire back in the late 1960s/early 1970s (before I was born). His employees would regularly fight (not literally lol) for extra shifts. I was talking to a neighbor who runs a similar restaurant here in town and he struggles to get his employees to show up at all. Very interesting indeed.
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Re: Labor laws and shift work

Postby Geezer on Thu Jan 09, 2014 5:27 pm

mac5155 wrote:you think we can seriously get those milk and cookies? :pop:

If the feds intervene, hades yes
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Re: Labor laws and shift work

Postby mac5155 on Thu Jan 09, 2014 5:32 pm

funny thing is, i tell our dept admin all the time (when she brings in cookie trays) that she needs to let me know and I'll bring the milk. Seriously, can't eat cookies with water.
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Re: Labor laws and shift work

Postby Geezer on Thu Jan 09, 2014 5:36 pm

Digitalgypsy66 wrote:I hear ya, Geezer. Personally, I work a lot more than 37.5 hours a week. Probably closer to 50, heavier during our busy times - beginnings of semester and exam times. My parents own a bakery where I worked ridiculous hours before going back to school in 2005. I made a decision not to work 80+ hours a week, often during Christmas and Thanksgiving, so I could enjoy holidays with my kids. My current employer is good about swapping schedules to get to kids' games, plays, and so on. I'll be eating lunch with my older son tomorrow (albeit at 10:30 in the morning, which could be the topic for another post :lol: ), which is a small, but nice thing to be able to do.

My Dad was a manager of an IHOP type restaurant in New Hampshire back in the late 1960s/early 1970s (before I was born). His employees would regularly fight (not literally lol) for extra shifts. I was talking to a neighbor who runs a similar restaurant here in town and he struggles to get his employees to show up at all. Very interesting indeed.

I worked pots and pans in a bakery as a tee. It was some of the hardest work I ever did because there were always a stack or two waiting whenever you finished a stack.I know people in those type jobs work hard. My brother was co-owner of a small fabrication shop. The biggest slave driver boss to work for are self-employed / self-manager workers.
If you work and go to school I applaud you. I worked full time while going to night school full time. After I graduated my wife did the same thing while we were raising 4 kids.
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Re: Labor laws and shift work

Postby tifosi77 on Thu Jan 09, 2014 6:56 pm

Geezer wrote:There are federal laws governing OT pay, etc. If your friend doesn't like that companies' schedule then he shouldn't take the job. With that work schedule he's going to get time and a half for at least 16 hours per week; more if they have to work holidays. There is no issue here.

It depends on if the position is exempt (salaried) or not. If it is, there's no OT. That might be a case of misclassification, but as I understand it those can be somewhat tricky to prove. It's hypothetical, anyway, since the person doesn't actually work there yet.
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Re: Labor laws and shift work

Postby Geezer on Thu Jan 09, 2014 7:18 pm

tifosi77 wrote:
Geezer wrote:There are federal laws governing OT pay, etc. If your friend doesn't like that companies' schedule then he shouldn't take the job. With that work schedule he's going to get time and a half for at least 16 hours per week; more if they have to work holidays. There is no issue here.

It depends on if the position is exempt (salaried) or not. If it is, there's no OT. That might be a case of misclassification, but as I understand it those can be somewhat tricky to prove. It's hypothetical, anyway, since the person doesn't actually work there yet.

You're right concerning salaried workers. At three different companies there was "incidental" OT that you did not get paid for at all. I figured as a machinist referred to in the original was an hourly worker. There are also state laws that differ from fed laws. It's been a while but federal laws used to employ to companies engaged in interstate commerce although I think that's been interpreted rather broadly for quite a while. I'm not sure if a local doctor foe example is subject to federal wage and equity laws for his office staff. But the doctor would be subject to similar state laws.
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Re: Labor laws and shift work

Postby Gabe on Fri Jan 10, 2014 11:29 am

tifosi77 wrote:
Geezer wrote:There are federal laws governing OT pay, etc. If your friend doesn't like that companies' schedule then he shouldn't take the job. With that work schedule he's going to get time and a half for at least 16 hours per week; more if they have to work holidays. There is no issue here.

It depends on if the position is exempt (salaried) or not. If it is, there's no OT. That might be a case of misclassification, but as I understand it those can be somewhat tricky to prove. It's hypothetical, anyway, since the person doesn't actually work there yet.


You are right. The logic behind the exempt/nonexempt argument was that if the employee was paid for the quantity of the work produced, they should be paid on an hourly basis with OT. If, rather, the employee is being compensated for the quality of the work produced, they should be paid on a salary basis, and there should be no expectation of how many hours it takes to complete the work.

As labor legislation has progressed, there's been a graying of that dichotomy. For instance, I worked at a banking equipment company as a service manager. Ideally, our technicians should have been paid on a salary basis, because we as a company would have expected a certain quality in their work. Instead, they were paid a salary on a prorated hourly basis with OT for additional hours of 40 per week. This was because of the nature of the work being performed. Any blue collar, physical work is most likely going to be paid on an hourly basis with OT.
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Re: Labor laws and shift work

Postby King Sid the Great 87 on Fri Jan 10, 2014 12:39 pm

Digitalgypsy66 wrote:Company 2 is adopting a program where if you get 8 call-offs in a rolling calendar year, you can be terminated.

Keep in mind that this is in South Carolina, a right to work state with little or no union presence. My friend says that this is why they can get away with this.


I'm curious as to the situation of others in regards to call offs. Are call-offs paid? I work in engineering and if somebody on my team "called off" eight times in a year, they would be viewed as worthless. When I worked at Lockheed, we did not even have sick time. If you got sick at the beginning of the week, you were expected to make it up by the end of the week or use vacation. Otherwise, they kept a count of unworked hours you had been paid for and you were expected to have offset it all (and then some) by the end of the year. It was definitely used in performance assessment. Everyone I worked with thought it was silly because it was pointless for our work environment. Everybody (with very few exceptions) came to work every day.

As far as the company being able to "get away with" it. They are getting away with what the free market allows. If there wasn't demand to work in that environment, the company would adjust accordingly to create it.
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Re: Labor laws and shift work

Postby dodint on Fri Jan 10, 2014 12:58 pm

When I onobarded with my company at the end of 2012 they had a great time off package. Then the following January they rolled all of it into generic PTO and then reduced the accrual rate across the board. I accrue about 4.5hrs every two weeks, which isn't bad, but I'll have to be with the company until the end of 2017 before it bumps up to 6hrs.

It's not a deal breaker, but when they took the 401(k) match away during the same time period it stung a little.
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Re: Labor laws and shift work

Postby tifosi77 on Fri Jan 10, 2014 1:21 pm

I'm at the point now where my PTO is maxed, and I'd have to take two days off per pay period to even see a reduction in my available hours because my accrual rate is so fast. The benefits are genuinely the only positive thing about my company these days; excellent PTO allowance, and zero employee contribution to health insurance.
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