What is a 9/80 Work Schedule?

A 9/80 work schedule is a non-traditional work schedule that is set-up to provide workers with one “off” day during the workweek in every two-week work cycle. This form of schedule promotes employee morale and satisfaction but can carry potential pitfalls for employers who are not used to this form of scheduling.

9/80 Work Schedule Defined

The 9/80 work schedule is an alternative to the traditional 40-hour workweek that consists of 8 hour days, 5 days per week, every week. It can be used as a recruitment tool when hiring employees.

Under a 9/80 work week schedule, employees work 80 hours during a two-week period spread over 9 days, instead of the usual 10. Employees work 9 hours on seven of the days in the period, one 8-hour day, and get one “free” day off every other week. 

The 8-hour day is worked during the week that the employee works five days.  The 8-hour day is usually conceptually considered to be worked half in one week and half in the second week. The first four hours are considered part of week 1 and the second 4 are considered part of week 2. This ensures that the employee only works 40 hours per work week and that the employer does not have to pay overtime.

Example 9/80 Schedule

A typical 9/80 schedule will look something like this:

Week 1 (Total Hours: 40)

Monday: 9 hours of work

Tuesday: 9 hours of work

Wednesday: 9 hours of work

Thursday: 9 hours of work

Friday: 4 hours of work in the morning

Week 2 (Total Hours: 40)

Friday: 4 hours of work in the afternoon (same day as the Friday in week 1)

Monday: 9 hours of work

Tuesday: 9 hours of work

Wednesday: 9 hours of work

Thursday: 9 hours of work

Friday: Off day

Holidays, Sick-Time, and Overtime on a 9/80 Schedule

How holidays are handled for a 9/80 schedule depends on whether the holiday falls on an 8-hour workday or a 9-hour workday. If it falls on an 8-hour work day, employees usually get 8 hours of holiday credit with a restriction on when the time must be used by.  If the holiday falls on a 9-hour day, employees are usually given the same 8 hour holiday credit plus one hour credit towards paid time off.

Sick time equates to the number of hours that were to be worked on the missed day. If the day missed for illness was a 9-hour day, 9 hours are deducted from the employees sick leave bank.  If it was only an 8-hour day, only 8 hours are deducted.

Employers using a 9/80 schedule must still comply with state and federal overtime pay laws. If a non-exempt employee on a 9/80 schedule works more than 40 hours in a work week, the employee must usually  be paid 1.5 times their hourly pay rate for the overtime hours. When moving to a 9/80 schedule, most employers usually have to change its employees’ Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) workweek.

Two Common Mistakes with the 9/80 Workweek

Employers instituting a 9/80 schedule should avoid these two common pitfalls, which can result in overtime pay obligations for the employer:

Allowing Employees to Change Their “Off” Day

Employers often think there is no harm in permitting an employee to change their off day and allow the employee to do when requested to try to be flexible.  This is a mistake. Allowing such a change will often result in four hours of overtime.

For example, if an employee’s usual split-day, the day that is split between the two work weeks, is Friday and their employer permits them to switch that day with their off day, the employer will be responsible for overtime because the result is that more than 40-hours will be worked during the week where there is usually an off day. The best practice is to prohibit switching off-days.

Allowing Employees to Adjust Their Hours Worked Per Day.

Allowing employees to come in or leave early on their split-day, could trigger overtime pay because the second workweek begins 4-hours into the employees shift. 

For example, if an employee comes in at 7:30AM and their second workweek starts at Noon, they will be entitled to ½ hour overtime because the hours worked between 7:30AM and Noon will all count towards their first workweek and will put them over the 40-hours allowed. This is true even if the employee only works a total of eight hours that day.

Compliance with employment laws is important for all employers, whether they use a traditional or non-traditional schedule. UpCounsel’s platform provides employers access to experienced attorneys that can advise on employment related issues. If you would like help in this area, post your legal need with Upcounsel.