Shift and Staffing Configurations

The following material has been collected over time from the Internet discussion groups that focus on public safety dispatching—there is a wide range of shift configurations and methods for assigning employees to them! Check our main staffing page for more information on shift configurations.

We also have 5 full time dispatchers working 24/7 with 1 per shift (primarily).

We do 12-hour shifts, rotating every 28 days. Each dispatcher works 36 hours one week (Sunday through Saturday), 48 the next.

4 Dispatchers work Mon Tues, then off Wed Thurs, on Fri Sat Sun, off Mon Tues, on Wed Thurs, etc.

Each dispatcher takes turns being the 5th position which is a noon to midnight shift Mon Tues Thur Fri one week, Mon Tue Fri the next—but only when not filling in for those off for vacation, comp, training, sick, whatever else.

Sometimes you may have 2 dispatchers on duty but the reality is that depening on the amount of time the others are scheduled away from the console, the second dispatcher is often filling in already (which keeps OT to a minimum).

As an alternative to the odd number of hours, I've heard of a similar rotation as we have but having a '4 hour' monday, tues, whichever day to make a 40 hour week. Being a smaller unit, the 12-hour shifts have enabled the Dept to survive when suddenly becoming shorthanded. I attached a sample schedule.

When fully staffed we have 88 telecommunicators. We currently have 4 "no leave" weekends (Memorial Day, Patriotic Festival, July 4 and Labor Day) throughout the year in order for us to provide support to our public safety partners. We determine Holiday Leave, period of December 21-Jan 2, on a rotating request basis. Everyone must submit their requests for either extended or single day leave during this time frame all at once (we give them two weeks to complete the submission). We keep a running track of how many hours each employee worked for each day for the past 12 years (but we only use the last 3). Employees A, B and C are requesting leave for Dec 23 day shift.

- Employee A worked 12 hours on 12/23/13; 6 hours on 12/23/12 and 0 hours on 12/2311==total of 18 hours for past 3 years

- Employee B worked 0 hours on 12/23/13; 12 hours on 12/23/12 and 12 hours on 12/23/11==total of 24 hours for the past 3 years

- Employee C worked 12 hours on 12/23/13; 12 hours on 12/23/12 and 6 hours on 12/23/11==total of 30 hours for the past 3 years

With this scenario Employee C would be first to be approved leave for 12/23/2014; Employee B would be second and Employee A would be denied.

We do this for each day of the time frame so it doesn't matter if someone worked days or night the prior 3 years or if the date was their scheduled day off. If you didn't work, you don't get hours.

It did take us a bit to get the whole process started as we had to go back and build the data base but we have kept it up each year so now it's a breeze to look and see how many hours each person has worked in order to determine who gets the time off each year.

We only follow this plan for the Christmas Holiday time. Members did vote if they wanted to do this for Thanksgiving as well and they declined that offer.

The rest of the year we do by seniority twice. The first time around you can submit for up to two weeks of consecutive time (2 one week period or 1 two week period) off in order of seniority. The second time around you can submit for up to two weeks of individual or consecutive days off in order of seniority. We placed a limit on the amount of submission in order to provide newer employees with the possibility of taking two weeks off (provided that have sufficient leave on the books to cover the request). We currently guarantee two people per shift leave each day so when it's your turn to view the leave log you can determine if you need to adjust your leave request by how many people are on the leave log before you.

t our center, dispatchers and supervisors maintain the same shift for a year and rotate on an annual basis on or around the first day of September. The shift sign-up is published in February (seven months in advance) to give the staff ample time to make arrangements for their upcoming shift. We publish a shift chart, rules for sign-up, mandatory bid-off, and a calendar for when the person must sign up for their shift. For the calendar, we give the supervisors two full days to sign up (four supervisors), then we give each dispatcher one day to sign up so that they know what day they must sign up by. We have rules for sign-up of slots if vacancies exist and other rules requiring bid-off (explained below).

We chose September for many reasons. Some are:

· Vacations are typically over and families are finishing their summer activities/vacations.
· Summer activities can be planned a year in advance with the knowledge of the shift that the dispatcher is assigned throughout the summer months.
· School begins in September and stabilization of the family unit is better achieved as families are settling into school routines.

We allow a dispatcher to work the same “style” of shift for two years straight before they are required to bid off of that style of shift. The shift styles are Day (06-18), Day Overlap (10-22), Evening (14-02) and Midnight (18-06). We don’t want people to feel stagnant by having to stay on a mid shift due to being lower in seniority and also want our staff to be rounded in their skills because activities vary greatly from shift to shift. Requiring personnel to have to move to a different shift provides the ability for less tenured dispatchers to sign up for shifts that may not be available if we allowed dispatchers non-rotation.

A dispatcher has the ability to make a “whole year” shift trade with another dispatcher but these are evaluated based upon many factors including shift strength (do not want one shift with all new dispatchers while other shifts are heavy with tenure; we require CTO’s on every shift; the personnel requesting and their past performance are taken into consideration; etc.).

Please see attached shift schedule for Verdugo (S. Calif.) Fire Communications. We dispatch Fire/EMS only as a secondary PSAP and we are a regional dispatch center for 13 agencies in the LA County area. We have four on duty for both 0630-1830 shift and 1830-0630 shift, inclusive of a Shift Supervisor classification. A total of 16 FTE operators/supervisors. We handle approx. 130,000 emergency phone calls, which translates to about 70,000 emergency dispatches each year.

The three Fire Communications Operator classification are cross-trained to perform both Call-Taking and Radio Dispatching and those tasks are rotated every 4 hours - i.e., one FCO will handle 9-1-1 calls only for four hours, another will handle only business calls, the third handles radio dispatching and "tasks" are reassigned after four hours have gone by. This keeps skill sets up to par, and allows for variety of duty throughout the shift.

Our schedule (attached PDF) has both a 48-hour week and a 36-hour week. So, how do we work through the overtime concern? We negotiated many years ago to include the overtime rate into base salary so that we're not paying overtime every other week. The schedule averages out to be a 42-hour work week over 8 weeks. The schedule allows for 24 hours off in between days and night shifts, and creates a great deal of fairness for having weekends off, middle of week off, and definite fairness for holidays as the shift rotates forward by one day each week of the month.

We will go down to 3 on duty on nights, but try not to do that for days; we're hopeful to have possibly 5 on days this coming FY. For filling sick calls, we start with off-duty FTE, then go to part-time hourly staff, and as last resort will consider partial coverage by FTE or having existing staff volunteer to cover and carryover from their existing shift if possible (so long as there's an 8-hour gap of time off between end of that shift and their next shift).

Our center has 17 Calltaker/Dispatchers. Minimum staffing is 3 with optimum being 5 on duty. However we average 4 on-duty at any given time. The shifts run from 0730 - 1930(A-P) 1930 - 0730(P-A). 1 Calltaker/Dispatcher works Wednesday - Sunday from 1130 - 1930.

1) How are sick calls handled? The on-duty supervisor begins calling off-duty personnel for coverage. Optimum coverage would be the whole shift but over time it's been discovered that offering half a shift is the bigger attraction. At times someone on-duty may be drafted to stay over for those 1st 6 hours until they can be relieved or until the swing dispatcher arrives. We offer callback pay and round trip mileage as well. Our Data Services Tech is a former Calltaker/Dispatcher as well as our Chief Communications Supervisor so they are at times drafted for covereage as well.

2) Does your scheduling provide for "over minimum" coverage to cover a potential sick call or vacation coverage? Yes.

3) If a sick call occurs and needs coverage from off-duty staff, what is your practice for filling the shift? Also, what is your practice if there are no takers? See the answer to question 1. If there are no takers someone from the off-going shift stays over till either the Chief Communication Supervisor or Data Service Tech arrives.

Download (pdf) our schedule.

We have 11 dispatchers in our Comm center, and we have a 12 hour schedule where our staff work 40 (or 42, depending on coverage) each week (6am-6pm and 6pm-6am). They work on a rotating schedule and have every other weekend off. We were not allowed to follow the schedule the sworn officers did (with the 48/36 weekly breakdown) so we do this instead. Our schedule looks identical to our police officers - with the exceptions of Thursdays. We call them "Wacky Thursday" and every Thursday every member of communications has to work 4 (or 6) hour shifts to either make up the extra 4, or get rid of the extra 8. Here's a quick example of one dispatcher:

Saturday: Off
Sunday: Off
Monday: 12 hours
Tuesday: 12 hours
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: 4 hours
Friday: 12 hours
Total: 40 hours

Then the following week:

Saturday: 12 hours
Sunday: 12 hours
Monday: Off
Tuesday: Off
Wednesday: 12 hours
Thursday: 4 hours
Friday: Off
Saturday: Off
Sunday: Off
Total: 40 hours

On Thursdays the hours range from 6am-10am, 10am-2pm, 2pm-6pm, 6pm-10pm, 10pm-2am and 2am-6am.

Since everyone comes in on Thursday we don't have much problem getting coverage if there's a call out - someone just works 8 instead of 4, or if we know ahead of time we can schedule the dispatchers that day to work 6 hour shifts. Since there are only 5 dispatchers that work day shift (6 on nights), one of the day shift supervisors can cover the extra 4 hours that is not covered during day shift Thursdays. That means we only occasionally have overtime - and when we do, it's usually only 2-4 hours.

I know it's kind of crazy looking - but it works for us - and the dispatchers love every other weekend off!!

We work the 12-hour shifts here. We have a long week and a short week. One week is 34.5 hours and the next week is 46 hours. In the long week, we get paid 6 hours of overtime, but if someone takes a day off in the 40-hour work week, the 46 hours become all straight time. We don't have to worry about making up the 4 hours for the short week because if you add the two weeks together, the employee is still getting their 80 hours (we are paid every two weeks), even if the 6 hours are paid as straight pay. That was one of the things we made sure of when we switched from the 8's to the 12's. Our personnel know that can happen, so they are in control if they get paid the overtime or the straight pay for that one week based on them asking for time off.

I don't know about making the 6 hours comp time though, but I guess if your agency is willing and so are you personnel, it coud be an option.

Here is our 2-week schedule: We start work at 6:45 am/pm and work until 7 am/pm. Everyone attends a paid 15-minute squad briefing prior to shift starting at 7 and they also receive an unpaid 45-minute meal break. In their 12.25 hour day, they are paid for 11.5 hours and they are are off every other FRI/SAT/SUN. They basically work 2 and off 2 except for when it's their turn to work the weekend. The most days they work in a row would be 3.

Pay period starts on Sunday and ends on Saturday of each week.


If the employee starts work BEFORE Saturday midnight, thier pay period ends at 7 a.m Sunday morning.

We went to 12 hr shifts a year ago and everyone loves it. We work a 2 week pay period, one week working 36 hrs and the next week we work 48 hrs. When fully staffed we either leave early 4 hrs or come in late 4 hrs 1 day per pay period so there is no overtime. When we are short, which is most of the time, we get 4 hrs of OT a pay period.

1. We have 2 rotations, X & Y. When X is working, Y is off and when Y is working X is off.
2. Each rotation has 3 shifts A-0600-1800 & B-1800-0600 & C-1400-0200. The C-1400-0200 shift is our "swing" shift. This shift gives us an extra person during our "peak" time and it also covers if either A or B shift requests time off or calls in.
3. Our 2 week rotation is as follows: W= working O=Off

X -Rotation
Week 1
Week 2
Y- Rotation
Week 1
Week 2

These are the perk of this schedule:
1. We only work 14 days a month
2. We have a 3 day weekend(Fri, Sat, Sun) off every other week
3. The longest consecutive days worked =3
4. You know what your days off will be for the entire year

Even our veteran dispatchers who were totally against working 12 hr shifts absolutely love them. I will be honest, getting use to the 12 hour days was tough for the first couple of weeks but once you get use to them it is great.

Due to the extreme difficulty in the hiring process we went to continous testing (monthly) last January. So far we have given CritiCall to 665 applicants, 360 of whom passed, 342 were interviewed and we have a grand total of 9 hired. Truly depressing numbers. Of the nine hired one left for a higher paid position three weeks after hire, two resigned out of academy, and one left after 10 months of training.

I use the job preview prior to interview and that does help cut down on the applicant pool because they then have a better true idea about the job.They are required to bring it to the interview signed. I know there are agencies out there that use a job preview and a mandatory orientation and/or observation sit along, but I am concerned with adding additional time frames to the process. As it is, applicants turn in paperwork, are scheduled for CritiCall the following month, or the month after depending on when they apply. We interview the month after receiving the passing list from HR and then they go off to backgrounds. Right now the Background Unit is working on applicants that applied in March/April and were referrred to them in April/May. Many people cannot wait that long and we often have applicants drop off after finding employment after background processes (and costs) are in the works.

I am looking for input specifically relating to after CritiCall processes (we are okay up to that point).

  • Do you require an observation/orientation prior to interview or as part of the interview process and how much time is allocated to the orientation.
  • Do you have a core group, such as CTO's, that are responsible for the observation/orientation for the sake of consistency?
  • Do you have a large number of drop outs after the orientation?
  • Does your agency have a member of the background unit available immediately after CritiCall, or during the interviews, to do a pre-background questionnaire, or do you have staff trained to do that, or do you distribute it in some other fashion prior to interview?
  • Do you have a really unique and successful recruiting/hiring process that is working well for you?

Due to the extreme difficulty in the hiring process we went to continous testing (monthly) last January. So far we have given CritiCall to 665 applicants, 360 of whom passed, 342 were interviewed and we have a grand total of 9 hired. Truly depressing numbers. Of the nine hired one left for a higher paid position three weeks after hire, two resigned out of academy, and one left after 10 months of training.

I use the job preview prior to interview and that does help cut down on the applicant pool because they then have a better true idea about the job.They are required to bring it to the interview signed. I know there are agencies out there that use a job preview and a mandatory orientation and/or observation sit along, but I am concerned with adding additional time frames to the process. As it is, applicants turn in paperwork, are scheduled for CritiCall the following month, or the month after depending on when they apply. We interview the month after receiving the passing list from HR and then they go off to backgrounds. Right now the Background Unit is working on applicants that applied in March/April and were referrred to them in April/May. Many people cannot wait that long and we often have applicants drop off after finding employment after background processes (and costs) are in the works.

I am looking for input specifically relating to after CritiCall processes (we are okay up to that point).

  • Do you require an observation/orientation prior to interview or as part of the interview process and how much time is allocated to the orientation.
  • Do you have a core group, such as CTO's, that are responsible for the observation/orientation for the sake of consistency?
  • Do you have a large number of drop outs after the orientation?
  • Does your agency have a member of the background unit available immediately after CritiCall, or during the interviews, to do a pre-background questionnaire, or do you have staff trained to do that, or do you distribute it in some other fashion prior to interview?
  • Do you have a really unique and successful recruiting/hiring process that is working well for you?

Any ideas and information would be appreciated.

Here is the info I got from the Federal Wage and Hour office several years ago.

Shift start and stop times can be set by the business. They can also be different for every shift, or even every employee if you are so inclined and have the time at payroll to deal with it. The woman I spoke to at that time suggested the following schedule for us, and we have been following it, and are compliant ever since. Believe me - this is less complicated than if first appears:

Our payroll week runs from Saturday to Saturday (you can make it what ever day works for your agency). Shifts start and stop 1/2 way through your shift on Saturday. This is how your 2 week schedule works.

Sat - 2nd 1/2 of shift - 6 hours (1pm-7pm)
Sunday - 10 hours (7a-5p)
Monday - off
Tuesday - off
Wednesday -12 hours (7a-7p)
Thursday - 12 hours (7a-7p)
Friday - off
Saturday - off first half total hours 40
Saturday - off 2nd half
Sunday - off
Monday - 10 hours
Tuesday - 12 hours
Wed - off
Thurs - off
Friday - 12 hours
Saturday - 1st half of shift - 6 hours (7am - 1pm)
total for week 40 hrs = 80 hrs 2 week pay period

The afternoon person works the identical rotation except their shifts are 2p-2am and their Saturday shifts are

2p-8p/ 8p-2a . Nights shifts are 7p-1am/ 1am-7am.

No worries about 45 minute non-paid lunch breaks, no super short 4 hour shifts one day that encourages people to call in sick or vacation so they dont' have to drive in to work. We call our 10-hour days our "short day" and I do let my dispatchers move their short day around and trade with each other as long as it works for everyone and there is coverage.

This schedule has worked for us for 15 years now. The first couple payrolls it was confusing to get the shifts split up on Saturday but its been working wonderful since. Little or no overtime is generated, they get every other weekend off and they know its always a 3 day weekend on or off. I have 14 full -time dispatchers and 4 dispatch positions.

Our department works 7 out of 14 days in a pay period and we have 4 different shifts working 12 hrs shifts with a 45 min lunch, which 30 min is unpaid so technically 11.5 hrs days. We have a short week and a long week totaling 80.5 hrs per pay period. Our dispatch center has a total of 12 dispatchers, 3 dispatchers assigned to each shift, but we are capable of functioning with only 2 dispatchers if someone calls in sick or has vacation. Each shift has a shift leader who comes in either at 0530 (days) or 1730 (nights) and then 2 dispatchers that come in at 0600 (days) 1800 (nights). This works out well with our department and the dispatchers enjoy having a 3 day weekend every other week. If we become short on manpower due to turnover, the 3rd dispatchers on each shift (rookie's) will become the floaters to cover any sick time/vacation time and adjust their schedules according so there will be no overtime.

Long week

Mon: 11.5 hrs
Tue: 11.5 hrs
Wed: Off
Thurs: Off
Fri: 11.5 hrs
Sat: 11.5
Sun: 11.5

Short week

Mon: Off
Tue: Off
Wed: 11.5
Thurs: 11.5
Fri: Off
Sat: Off
Sun: Off

We work a 11.25 hr shift, with a 1 hour lunch and no overtime. Our work week is from Mon-Sun. A sample schedule would be :

Week 1
Mon - 0645-1900 11.25
Tues - OFF
Weds - OFF
Thurs 1215-1900 6.25
Fri 0645-1900 11.25
Sat 0645-1900 11.25

Week 2
Mon - OFF
Tues 0645-1900 11.25
Weds 0645-1900 11.25
Thurs 0645-1330 6.25
Fri - OFF
Sat - OFF
Sun-0645-1900 11.25

We have read off everday from 0645-0700, when we come in to relieve the night shift. Thursdays are half days, and we have training on these days. On week one, the first 15 min (1215-1230) is our read off time and 1230-1300 is training. On the second week, our read off in 0645-0700 and our training is from 1300-1330. Since the state of FL requires we are certified now and we have 20 hrs of continuing education a year, this training time allows us to fill that mandate.

Our city requires us to maintain a 40 hour work week, but we prefer the 12 hour shifts, so we have done the following with our dispatchers:

Week 1:
Saturday - Off
Sunday - Off
Monday - 12
Tuesday - 12
Wednesday - Off
Thursday - 4
Friday - 12

Week 2:
Saturday - 12
Sunday - 12
Monday - Off
Tuesday - Off
Wednesday - 12
Thursday - 4
Friday - Off

Our payroll run Saturday-Friday. Essentially, every Thursday the dispatchers come in and work a 4 hour shift. This means every shift dispatcher works 4 hours every Thursday. If day or night shifts are short staffed, we increase it to 6 hour shifts (which we're currently doing for Day shift but not for Night shift due to staffing). This means 2 hours of OT, however since that OT is due to a staffing shortage it will eventually self-correct as we get more people trained. This prevents us from having a 36 hour week and a 48 hour week (because we come in 4 hours extra on the 36 hour week, and "leave" 8 hours early on the 48 hour week).

It's really, really popular with most of our staff. We all live relatively close, so coming in for 4 hours isn't usually a huge inconvenience. We've nicknamed Thursday "Wacky Thursday," and everyone on patrol knows that Thursdays are our "weird" days.

I hope that helps - I know it's definitely not a solution that works for every PSAP, but we LOVE it!!

We have been working this schedule (pdf) for a few years and most like it. I have attached a sample schedule and below are some basic advantages/disadvantages

3 days off
Good coverage during busy hours
8 hour shifts allow for easier coverage for unexpected absences
24/7 coverage with fewer personnel
Overlaps allow for training, time off, etc. without overtime cost

Dependent on staffing levels, you can have days/hours with too many on duty

We are looking into changing to 12hr shifts at our consolidated dispatch center & have noticed that it's over 2080 hours annually if we use the 2 week rotation of:
then the next week

Our center of 19 uses a 12 hr schedule. We have set days off (Mon-Wed or Fri-Sun) and rotate every 6 months by seniority.

Our dispatchers work 7 days in a 2-week pay period; 6 of those days are 12 hrs, one is an 8 hr day. They have the flexibility to schedule which work day they'd like to be shortened.

For example
Disp A: W-12, W-12,W-12, RDO, RDO, RDO, RDO, W-12, W-12, W-12, W-8
Disp B: W-12, W-8, W-12, RDO, RDO, RDO, RDO, W-12, W-12, W-12, W-12

We spend NO money on OT.

We have about approximately 110 personal who work the communications floor, not including training staff, trainees or part-time dispatchers. We work 12hr days on a two week permanent schedule (7 days on/off). We work every other weekend (Sat - Mon) and never work the same day two weeks in a row. Our schedule is set so that you know what days you will work for an entire year making it easy to plan time off.

Days: 0545-1800 11.25 hours A & B shifts
Nights: 1745-0600 11.25 hours A & B shifts

A two week schedule with A & B representing the days that each shift works and Monday is the start of each pay week:



When you subract the 1 hour lunch we work 11:15 a day which comes up to 78:45. On the first week (our short week), B shift works 3 days and on week 2 (long week) B shift works 4 days. Week 1 33:45 hours and week 2 45:00 hours. On week two we get time and half for the 5 hours of overtime. This overtime is factored into our normal pay as scheduled overtime for every employee. We actually make more money than someone working a normal 40 hours a week at the samy hourly wage.

Normal 80 hours: $10 x 80hr = $800
Our schedule: ($10 x 73.75 = $737.50) + ($15 x 5 = $75.00) = $812.50

Our center rotates seniority quarterly as far as shift bidding goes. Every quarter, the person with first pick for the previous quarter goes back to the bottom and then works their way back up. New employees enter at the bottom for the first full quarter they are solo. Vacations are still picked by straight seniority, so those who have put in decades of service still have something to show for all their time and effort (i.e. better and more vacation picks). For a smaller center like ours, it works out that you get top picks every 2-3 years. Perhaps for a larger center, having two different bidding groups would work to keep the people with high seniority happy? Like maybe bidding group A is comprised of people with 5+ years and group B is under 5 years, and then have each group rotate within itself. That way if you've been there for more than five years you never get stuck with last pick, but you also don't always have first if you've been there longest.

Here is the shift selection procedure we use (pdf).

While I hear your message and I was there in the beginning of my career, I feel I need to post a long-timer's point of view here. We all went through this, as fair or unfair as you feel it is, seniority must count for something. If it starts with shift assignments, where does it end? Vacations? I am am about to complete my 25th year in the same position here. I am truly telling you, I have never had enough seniority to get Christmas week off. The reason? When I finally had the seniority on my shift to get it, I exercised my seniority rights to bid on an opening on the day shift. The 7 (about to become 6 with a retirement!) people in the Department who are senior to me have earned the right to take that time before me. The same as I earned the right, by "doing my time", to get onto the day shift. If I stayed nights, I would have every Christmas off. It's a trade off I decided was worth it to me.

I am reading 2 distinct reasons for your inquiry. First, senior employee burn out and or feeling of entitlement for the years they have put in. The second being, fairness to new employees, which is also a sense of entitlement. Both are detrimental to your Department and puts you in quite the predicament. If you decide to disregard seniority, you will only add to the burnout rate of your senior, most experienced people. On the other hand, if you do nothing, the new, fresher people will start looking elsewhere. Which is probably going to happen eventually, anyway. Right now it is shift assignments, tomorrow, rate of pay, the next day benefits. My point, there are always easy reasons to leave. To stay in a career such as ours takes so much more guts and should be acknowledged. If shift assignment is that acknowledgment, then so be it.

My suggestion, start finding ways to get those senior people back into the ball game, so to speak. They are still here because there is something very satisfying about what they do every day. Find a way to let them share that with the newer people. Give them a sense of meaning. Something more than the self satisfaction that comes with this profession. Your senior people are one of your most valuable resources, don't shut them down by furthering the feeling their many years of service is not only being wasted, but devalued due to a false sense of fairness they were never offered.

I hope this is taken in the sense it was written. My intent is to bring the point of view you may not be hearing into your spotlight. My guess is, the ones you are hearing from are not the senior people. They are not coming to you because they do not have a complaint, yet.

Our center is 81 employees and we do a non-sonority shift bid and have done it this way for about 5 years. We are a combined center and our city has the philosophy of "pay for performance." We take this to heart. So in our center our employees bid by job capabilities. A Telecomm Specialist (which can do all disciplines,i.e police dispatch, fire dispatch and call taking) bid first and within this group they bid by their yearly review score. We give the benefit to the employees that benefit our department the most. Then our Telecomm II bid, then Telecomm I.

The trick is making sure that employees feel that their yearly review is done fairly. So as a supervisor team we do each employees review as a group effort. We set standards and goals at the beginning of the year and publish them to our employees. Doing the reviews this way is time consuming but our employees have always felt that they were treated fairly and their review reflected their true performance.

Doing a bid this way keeps our more seasoned employees far away from the "retired on the job" mentality and our new employees work very hard because they see that hard work pays off. This has also been helpful in our economy when our City has not given raises in two years. Our employees stay motivated because they know their shift depends on it.

We're a small operation in terms of personnel;12 Dispatchers and 4 Shift Supervisors for teams of 4 on both days and nights (12-hour shifts). We empowered our Shift Supervisors a number of years ago to make scheduling decisions annually as to whom works with whom. It is rare that personnel are not shifted as a result of this process and the dispatchers do not have input in this. As management of the Center, my responsibility is to have final appproval on any issues/concerns with personnel or their placement on a particular shift.

This process gives the Shift Supervisors the opportunity to have new personnel on their teams for a year, helps keep personality conflicts low, and ultimately keeps personnel from developing "cliques". It also helped set a point of delineation between the two classifications. The only area that we allow bids is for vacation picks for the upcoming year. We start that process in September and everyone gets an opportunity to pick their block of time. This is done by seniority.

This may be a consideration for your center...

Our Center is comprised of six Shift Supervisors, five Ass't Shift Supervisors and 46 line staff. We work four on and three off using a combination of 8-12-8-12 with a few 5/8's. Our staff bid shifts by seniority based on their classification (Supervisor, Ass't Supervisor, Radio Qualified Dispatcher and Call Taker). We have a variety of shifts that throughout the day. They start at 0600, 1000, 1400, 1800, and 2200. There is a great variety of shifts for people to choose from. We bid once a year for four different rotations and rotate quarterly (Jan, April, July, Oct).

Because we bid by seniority, we also have people who bid the same shifts every time. I believe this stagnates their skill sets, creates cliques and makes it difficult for many because it allows some to lock down the same shifts consistently. This particular schedule is a nightmare to manage. We spend a "significant" amount of hours working on scheduling.

Years ago we worked 12 hour shifts (06-18, 18-06) 3 on / 3 off. There were specific benefits to this schedule:

  • - Team Camaraderie.
  • - Rotating days off, with a series of weekends off every three weeks.
  • - Everyone rotated as a team quarterly giving everyone the same amount of hours on days and nights for shift parity.
  • - Scheduling was very easy.
  • - It allowed more people off for vacations and training since we had more per shift.
  • - Overtime hours were down.
  • - If you took three days of vacation (36 hours), you got 9 days off.
  • - Equality among the shifts.
  • - It freed up the supervisor to manage the floor and not spend countless hours working on scheduling.

There were a few who felt 12 hour days were too long. You fall into the FLSA/OT world. However, even by paying the FLSA pay, it was cheaper than paying for all of the OT we needed to cover 5/8's or what we currently work.

Using the 12's (whether it is 4 on / 4 off or 3 on / 3 off) we never had to bid. Initially shifts were assigned and over time some people were allowed to move but, not to stay on nights or days. Seniority came into play only when we bid for vacation. That seniority was based on the shift you worked. If you can swing 12's and get buy off from your agency and bargaining unit and at least try it for one year, you might be surprised how many of your people really like it.

We have 10 full time dispatchers that work 12 hour shifts with two full time dispatchers that work a split shift.

Shifts in a two week period are as follows:

A Shift 0600-1800/B shift 1800-0600)
M,T,F,S,S,W,TH (3rd dispatcher works same schedule but 1200 to 1200.)

C Shift 0600-1800/D Shift 1800-0600)
W,TH,M,T,F,S,S (3rd dispatcher works same schedule but 1200 to 1200.)

We have two groups of rotating schedules. We have four that rotate 1D to 1C to 1B to 1A then back to 1D…and so forth. The other group rotates 2A to 2B to 2C then back to 2A…and so forth. With minor changes, they can also be configured to be “set” with no rotating at all. We rotate because it keeps us working together as a large group.

In Excel (xls) format: Schedule A / Schedule B

In Acrobat (pdf) format: Schedule A / Schedule B

I work for a County E911 and developed the attached schedule to fit our dispatch needs. The union and management are both happy with it. We were working 8 hour shifts 6 on 2 off rotation, one day advances each week so weekends were every 5th weekend Thur Fri Sat then following weekend Fri Sat Sun. This was very hard on personnel working 6 in a row efficiency dropped after 4 days.  We have a pay period every 2 weeks. Hours could be changed to accommodate each center. Our swing shifts are used to fill vacation, sick, and personal time off. Otherwise they are on the regular shift schedule as shown.

We have 3 Line Supervisors and 11 dispatchers. We have supervisors on every shift except "B" shift nights at this time. This schedule uses  8/12 hours combinations for a 40 hour week.

Advantages to management are: NO FLSA, Minium of 3 personnel working per shift everyday, Overtime should be minimial as extra personnel working covers vacancies (We can operate with only 2 on if necessary), Sick time usage should drop due to less consecutive working days in row.

Advantages to employees they work either 20 hours, 24 hours, 28 hours, or 32 hours at a time: No more than 3 days in row, every other weekend off for 2 days, (Days last shift before weekend of is 8 hours on Friday getting off at 2PM), (Nights does not return to work until 10P Mondays for extra time off), for those who drive long distances this will shorten the number of days to drive and gas costs, for some it saves in day care costs.

We used to work 12-hour shift with 3 day weekends but management wanted to get away from this feeling that 3 12-hour shifts were too long. This is about as close to having every other weekend off we could get and still cover shifts.

Download the Excel (xls) spreadsheet version of this shift configuration. [Thanks Sandie!]

We work 12 hr shifts, 7a-7p and 7p-7a. We work 3 days one week, 4 days the next. It goes something like this:

Tues: work
Weds: work
Fri: off
Sat: work
Sun: work
Mon: work
Tues: off
Weds: off
Thurs: work
Fri: work
Sat: off
Sun: off
Mon: off

It otals 76 hours straight time and 8 hrs OT for a two-week pay period. Each person gets 7 days off and a 3-day weekend during the two weeks. It's a long shift, but it seems like with all the mandatory overtime out there, a lot of us get stuck working those kind of hours anyway without the extra time off. The 12-hour shifts eliminate a lot of scheduling headaches and seem to reduce absenteeism. And for me, with little ones at home, it makes childcare almost a non-issue. We have 5 full-timers, 4 of whom work 12's. We have 1 full-timer that works 8a-4p M-F. The 4p-12a & 12a-8a shifts and all the weekend 8-hour shifts are covered by parttimers and/or overtime firefighters that are trained dispatchers. We have a minimum of two people in here 24/7. As far as childcare, having the additional days off means I get to spend more time at home with my 4-year old and 9 month-old, as opposed to farming them out to their grandparents. My wife works three, 10-hour shifts/week at the hospital, and they work out her schedule so she's usually off when I'm working. As a result, we only have to ship them out one day a week, occasionaly two. I guess this wouldn't work for everyone. And I could see where someone like yourself who already has weekends off might not be excited about working every other one.

All of our dispatchers carry pagers, paid for by the department. If they are called in on short notice (less that 12 hours notice) and they work a minimum of 6 hours they get an additional 2 hours overtime pay. There is no compensation for them carrying the pagers, and they have to leave a note if they will be out of pager range for any lenght of time. We had some growing pains with it but with the last contract it was all ironed out and seems to be working OK now.

We work 12-hour shifts. We work 84 hours per pay period, and the county take the extra 4 hours, add two hours call it "earned credit time," used like comp time. Each month you work 15 days, with the opportunity to take another whole day off. Our schedule is work Monday and Tuesday, take Wednesday and Thursday off, work Friday, Saturday and Sunday, then the next week we're off Monday and Tuesday, work Wednesday and Thursday, and then off Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We work 7a-7p and 7p-7a, and each shift on each side has 3 dispatchers, and we have a "flex" person that works 3p-3a. When fully staffed we have 14 dispatchers.

Earlier this year our borough administrator approached us and our union officers with the idea of having us work 12-hour shifts like our cops have done for nearly 30 years. Since 1984 we had 3 full-timers working 8-hour shifts Monday through Friday, with part-timers covering the weekends and as much sick time and vacation time as possible. So after much negotiation we agreed, and they hired one of the part-timers as a fourth full-timer. Our cops have worked 3-on and 3-off all those years but we opted for the so called PItman schedule of 2-on, 2-off, 3-on, 2-off, 2-on, 3-off with the 3-off always being on the weekends. We also have a fifth full-time borough employee who has been a part-time dispatcher for 11 years and who became a full-time electric meter reader three years ago, with him splitting his duties between the two working at least one 12-hour shift in dispatch weekly so that every fourth week we full-timers each get an extra day off in order to reduce the overtime. Like our cops, when we take a day off (vacation, sick, holiday) it is a day, not 12 hours But some nearby towns charge the cops and dispatchers 12 hours sick time or vacation time or whatever when they take off. Now, if I want 6 days off, I only have to take 2 and so forth. The only fear we have is when somebody calls off sick, and there is nobody available to come in, we will get stuck there for 18 hours, maybe longer, something that has happened to our cops quite a few times over the years.

We have 10 employees:

  • 4 on first shift (8 a.m. to  4 p.m.)
  • 3 on second shift (4 p.m. to midnight)
  • 3 on third shift (midnight to 8 a.m.) 

The employees rotate every 3 months to one of the above shifts.  Is there a way have employees  work third shift for 2 month rotations, while still continuing to rotate employees to work 3 months on first and second shifts? 

We have something similar right now. We are an agency of 12 dispatchers, with 3 assigned to a shift and a releif person for each shift that will jump from one shift to another to cover. We work 5 on 2 off, 5 on 3 off so we do not have forty hours every week. We have only two consoles so when there are three of us on, the third person can either enter warrants or try to find something to do, such as cleaning out cabinets, updating information in binders we keep at the consoles or read a book. We then take turns dispatching. One for four then the next for the next four, alternating each night as needed. It is overkill but at this point it is better than being short. Each relief person is given a "rotation" for the year (we pick our schedule for the year) and they work the same day as one person on each shift, e.g. First shift will be on rotation A, second shift rotation B and third shift rotation C. This way most of the time more than one person can take off in one day, no matter what shift. And this eliminates alot of overtime, which some of us don't like. The only time we get any overtime is if someone calls in sick, and very rarely do any of us. Hope this helps.

We do 4 shifts with rotation: Nights = 6pm to 6am Days = 6am to 6pm

4 nights (starting on Wednesday) off 3
3 days off 1
3 nights off 3
4 days off 7

Then it starts all over. To help cover days-off shifts we rotate on-call during 7-day break. We have 4 per shift, so each person is only on call once every 4 months. The dispatchers love the 7-day break. We also have Power shifts from 8am to 6pm, and 2pm to 12 midnight.

I've worked 8's, 10's, 12's and even 14's 16's and 18's but I just can't see how 24's would work for a busy comm center. When fire fighters sleep, if they get a call they have to get up and handle it. Unless it's a busy house or major incident, chances are they will be able to get back to quarters and get additional rest. When dispatchers sleep, if the center was overwhelmed by call volume or some other situation would the dispatchers be allowed to continue sleeping? Even if the situation wrapped up quickly, would that dispatcher be able to get back to sleep? Not if it were me. Oonce I'm up I'm doomed for rest of the day...might as well pull an all-nighter in that event.

Regarding 24-hour shifts: The 24-hour schedule is set up typically wherein you only "work" 16 total in the full 24 hrs. And depending on how the agency sets up the schdule, it may be an 8-hr work, 8-hr break, then work another 8. Or some work 16, then off for 8. It has to be set up where in there is sleep time and other breaks as needed. That is how it becomes workable. Also, by having dispatchers on a 24-hr schedule, it becomes beneficial in the following ways: More folks readily available when something BIG happens. Instead of only having a couple of people to work the whole incident by themselves and waiting until somone can come in, they're already on duty. It also allows continuity of folks working the same with the field personnel (at least for a fire dept standpoint). By being on the same schedule, everyone working can be on the same page as each other, kind of like in the PD environment knowing how each Watch Commander likes to do things differently with his shift. So, you have to look at 24-hr schedules on their own merit, and not compare them to an 8 or 10-hr schedule. With 8 and 10's, even 12's, holding over for extra means having to stay up and be on the console that much longer, with only a few hours off before coming back. On a 24 hour schedule, breaks are actually counted in to the mix, and accounting for "Down time". FLSA requires some accounting issues because of the hours, but it can be done. That is why it works so well for those agencies that have been able to switch to the schedule.

We work 11 hour shifts, on the first week working days are: Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Second week working days are Wednesday and Thursday. Which is similar to the Pitman schedule used by our police officers except they work 12 hour shifts, not 11.

Our dispatch center is staffed by two dispatchers for the 24-hour period. From 0700-1700 both of them are required to be available but not necessarily in the room the entire time. However, the majority of the time they choose to stay in the room and work out what is essentially a call-taker/dispatcher type of arrangement. Typically at 1900 one of them goes to bed and sleeps until 0100 and then they switch. The rest/sleep arrangement are entirely up to them to work out amongst themselves. During any significant incident they are both required to be in the room but many house fires are handled by the single dispatcher without waking the other. Of course we only do fire dispatch (no EMD/EMS). Any EMS related calls (EMS assist, first responder, MVA, etc.) are transferred to us electronically through the CAD system, so we only speak to an actual caller about 25% of the time. We've been doing the 24 hour shifts for about three years now and everybody seems to like it. I was one of the first to go from 8 hour shifts to the 24 hour staffing and I loved it. Compared to the 12 hour shifts I work in my part-time center I'd much rather do the 24.

We always work the same schedule, and you move to days with seniority. For example my schedule is: Mon & Tue 7 pm-7 am, Wed & Thur off, Fri, Sat & Sun 7pm-7am, Mon & Tue off, Wed 7pm-7am, Thur. 11pm-7am, Fri., Sat. & Sun. off. The other dispatcher schedule is one hour later (ie: 8pm-8am for information overlap purposes). The gap in the schedule comes in 8 hour blocks, the day dispatcher's one 8-hour shift runs 7am-3pm, the night dispatcher's 8-hour shift runs 11pm- 7am. We have a part-time dispatcher that works the 3pm-11pm shift, (or 4pm-12midnight shift for the other time slot). This happens four times in two weeks, so she works two days each week for a total of 32 hours.

I like the schedule. You always have the same days and time, and it is easier to plan things without always running to check the schedule. Our schedule used to be very confusing. For working overnights, I would just as soon work 12 hours as 10 or 8. If I have to be up, might as well work a long shift. It works nice for vacation, if you pick the week to be gone when you work the 12 and 8-hour shift, you can have from Monday morning till the next Monday evening off by only taking 20 hours of vacation.

We work a 12-hour shift They are: 06:00 - 18:00 and 18:00 - 06:00. The nice part of it is you get a 3-day weekend (Fri,Sat,Sun) every other weekend. Another agency works 3 days on, 4 days off, 4 days on 3 days off. We have AM and PM shifts. An example shift would be work 0600-1800 Thur - Sat, and have every other Wed. off.

We have 12 hr shifts, 0700 - 1900 (day), 1900 - 0700 (night), 70-hour fortnight, 5 week cycle like thus:

Week 1
Monday day, Tuesday day, Wednesday night, Thursday off, Friday off, Saturday off, Sunday off,

Week 2
Monday off, Tuesday off, Wednesday day, Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday off, Sunday off

Week 3
Monday off, Tuesday off , Wednesday off, Thursday day, Friday day, Saturday night, Sunday night

Week 4 (swing week you have to do one 12 hour shift between Tuesday and Thursday, you could be rostered to do that shift on the Monday or Friday, with your consent)
Monday off, Tuesday off, Wednesday day, Thursday off, Friday off, Saturday day, Sunday day

Week 5
Monday night, Tuesday night, Wednesday off, Thursday off, Friday off, Saturday off, Sunday off

Recommence the 5 week cycle,
Week 1 etc

We have 5 reliefs, up to 8 members per relief plus a Supervisor, 3 channels of 2 operators each and 2 persons purely answering 911/000 calls. All persons apart from the Supervisor and a Senior Communications Officer per channel, rotate around as required ( meal breaks etc ).

Anyone can work overtime (voluntary), they had to limit us to 24 hours per fortnight, i.e. 2 x 12 shifts or 3 x 8 hour shifts. Before they bought in that limit, some persons worked 3 12 hr overtime shifts a fortnight. At the moment in my Centre, you can easily work your full 24 hours overtime if you want, due to staff shortages.

The 4 x 12 hour shifts can be a killer, but the time off makes up for it.

Our agency has 4 shifts; 2 day shifts and 2 night shifts. Alpha (day), Bravo (night), Charlie (day) & Delta (night) shifts and we rotate. For example Alpha and Bravo shifts work on the same days. This is how it works Alpha shift works during the day from 0530hrs till 1730hrs & Bravo shift works during the night from 1730hrs till 0530hrs. We work two days on (Monday/Tuesday), two days off (Wednesday/Thursday), 3 days on (Friday, Sat and Sunday), two days off (Monday/Tuesday), two days on (Wednesday/Thursday), 3 days off (Friday, Saturday & Sunday) and thats our whole 2-week schedule. And on the days that the Alpha/Bravo crew are off Charlie/Delta shifts have the helm.. And it works just fine. We end up with 3-day weekends twice a month; which we all enjoy.

Day dispatcher 1


Day dispatcher 2

TUE 3P-11P
WED 3P-11P

Night shift dispatcher 1

TUE 11P-7A
WED 11P-7A

We work 12-hour shifts with six dispatchers we work three 12's on, three off, then the next week it's three 12's and an 8-hour shift on with four days-off. One dispatcher is 0600-1800, cover shift 1400-0200, and night shift 1800-0600, with Wednsday and Sundays on the 8-hour shift day. We get two hours of overtime every pay period as long as we don't call in sick or take vacation.

We currently work a 5/2 schedule with three, 8-hour shifts: day shift 7-3, evening 3-11, and night 11-7. Every four weeks we rotate backwards one day for days-off. Then if we have extra people on-duty during the day, during the week they will work day and evening relief 8-4 and 4-12. On weekends it would be 10-6 and 6-2 or 7p-3a. We bid every 8 weeks by straight senority. I would like to rotate every time. Like first round would be dispatcher 1-10 and then the next time would be 2-10, then 1 and so on and so forth. But it works out well because everyone gets weekends off, and no one is stuck on set days off.

Wow I think this is a great idea. I am sure you will love our schedule. We probably have one of the wackier ones. While it looks complex, once you work it , it is a nice schedule and the 6 days and 4 days-off are great. We do have some 8-hour employees that help fill in peak times as well. We work 14 our of 28 days in a cycle:

Day shifts are 630 a.m. - 430 p.m.
Night Shifts are 430 p.m. - 630 a.m.

Rotation #1
1 Day (Tues.) then 3 nights (Weds, Thurs, Fri) (One night shift you come in 5 hours late) then 4 Days off (Sat, Sun, Mon*,Tues) * Monday is 3 hours mandatory training 9 a.m.- 12 p.m.

Rotation #2
3 days (weds, Thurs, Fri) then 3 nights (Sat, Sun, Mon) (One night you come in 2 hours late) then 4 days off (Tues, Weds, Thurs,Fri)

Rotation #3
3 Days (Sat, Sun, Mon) then 1 night (Tues) (One day you come in 4 hours late) then 6 days off


The reason for coming in late those shifts is to keep it at a 40-hour work week, although many times we are given that opportunity to work that late time as overtime.

We have instituted a new schedule for this year on a trial basis. So far, it seems to be working out ok. Previously, we rotated shifts every 4 weeks: mids to eves to days, with 8 hour days. Now we have instituted what we call "core" shifts, and these people work that shift permanently with days off changing every 4 weeks. There are the same number of people on each core shift. Newer dispatchers work the rotating shift until they have completed their training. If there is an opening on a permanent core shift, they can slide into that. In addition to the 3 core shifts, we have 2 core (permanent also) "power" shifts. These shifts work 10-hour days, 3 days off. Their hours are 0900-1900 and 1900-0500. They beef up the staffing during the busier hours. All of these shifts are based on a 28-day cycle. The days off are sliding. Example: Wed/Thu, then Tue/Wed, then Mon/Tue, then Sun/Mon, etc. The days off for those that are on 10-hour shifts work the same way: Sat/Sun/Mon, then Fri/Sat/Sun, etc. People of the same qualifications can trade shifts and/or days off at any time as long as it doesn't shift the balance in staffing numbers. In short:

Rotating: mids/eves/days - 8 hour shifts Midnights 2300-0700 - 8 hour shifts
Evenings 1500-2300 - 8 hour shifts
Days 0700-0300 - 8 hour shifts
Day Power: 0900-1900 - 10 hour shifts
Night Power: 1900-0500 - 10 hour shifts

Our center has 33 Telecommunicators and 6 Shift Supervisors. We are on permanent shifts. Employees bid yearly by seniority for their shift assignment. This works well for us because our employees can plan ahead for child care, school, clubs, etc. I believe the reason is works is because we are on a modified 10-plan. Even if they are on a shift they don't like, their days off make up for it. We have two-phase days off, either Monday/Tuesday or Thursday/Friday. Half of our employees are assigned to each phase and they get every other Sat/Sun off. So if they are assigned to the ThursdayFriday days-off, they get Thursday/Friday off one week, and the following week they get Thursday/Friday/Saturday/Sunday off. One week they get the same, set two days-off (Mon/Tues or Thurs/Fri), and the following week the Saturday/Sunday is added. Everyone gets every other weekend off in a 4-day block. Our common day is Wednesday that we use for training. The days-off take the sting out of being stuck on a shift they may not like. It works for us.

An organization I worked with did 12-hour shifts in a pattern of: (Starting on a Monday) 2 on, 2 off, 3 on, 2 off, 2 on, 3 off schedule over 14 days. If your pay week starts on the "on" Saturday, it ends up 48 hours one week and 36 the other. You are paid overtime for the 8 hours in the 48-hour week. So it comes out real close to a 40-40 pay level.

We work 12 hour shifts. I have 10 full-time employees. We have a minimum of two-person coverage with a third person working during peak hours. The dispatchers work on a rotating schedule: They are paid for 11.42 hours per day (There is a 35-minute unpaid lunch). Their work week is Saturday to Saturday. We split the Saturday so that half of the day goes on one week, and the other half goes on the other, totaling 39.97 hours per week. By contract, they are paid the full 40 hours. This works well for our center. For those concerned about the unpaid lunch, very few dispatchers actually take their 35 minutes outside of the center.

We have 10 full time dispatchers at this time. They work 12 hour shifts. The shifts are 0500-1700, 0600-1800, 1200-0000, 1700-0500, and 1800-0600. There are 2-on 24 hours a day and we have a third person on from 1200-0000. The 1200-0000 is a constant shift and the other shifts rotate days to nights and vice versa every two weeks. This allows everyone to have every other Friday, Saturday, and Sunday off. In a two-week rotation shift A works Mon, Tues, Fri, Sat, and Sun, Wed, and Thurs. Shift B would work Wed, Thur, Mon, Tues, Fri, Sat, and Sun. This does mean that they get 36 hours one week and 48 hours the other. This schedule has been extrememly successful and attracts many interested people since they have the 3-day weekend every other week.

We work four 12 hour days and then have 4 days off. I love this schedule. I work fulltime and yet I have 4 full days off to be mom and so it feels more like a part-time job in my head. Shifts are 6 a.. to 6 p.m. We have one all-day shift, one all-night shift and two swing shifts that work 2 days and then 2 nights. Its a complicated schedule but works great and I've heard great things about working each shift.

  • Tour 1: 1 day, 3 nights (one night shift you come 5 hours late), then off for 4 days
  • Tour 2: 3 days, 3 nights (one night shift you come in 2 hours late), then off for 4 days
  • Tour 3: 3 days (1 day you come in 4 hours late), 1 night off for 6 days, then repeat process

Our pay week is every 2 weeks and we work 40 hours a week. There is no overtime in the normal rotation at all. It is so nice having 4 days off and then 6 days off. You can take 3 weeks vacation and only take a couple days off. I love it EXCEPT for the down time on the night shift, which I am sure will change when we get cell phones. Six days off every 28 days is awesome.

I work for a healthcare software company. We have a 24 technical support center. Our schedule periodically comes under scrutiny from various departments, so I was looking at your site for additional scheduling information. Here is the schedule we have successfully used for the last 12 years:

4 on, 5 off, 5 on, 4 off, 5 on, 5 off

12-hour shifts start at 1900 and 0700. We have 2 day and 2 night shifts. The first day of shifts are always, Monday (4 day), Friday (5 day) and Wednesday (5 day). The rotation gives everyone the same number of Saturday and Sundays off. We also make several days "short" or 10 hour days in the 14 day work rotation, this reduces our working hours by 12 hours for the period. We use one 8-hour training day schedule on an off day each month to make up for short days. People usually stay or come in the equivalent of 30 mins additional each day to handle turnover duties. All of this together gets us to the 2080 full-time employee limit.

There are 12 hours in short time (usually 2-hour increments) per 28-day rotation and are set in the schedule. The "short" days are the same each rotation. For example, one person's schedule is to leave at 1700 Monday and Tuesday and arrive at 0900 Friday. We insure coverage through control of our schedule that does not permit more than two people having the same short day, since we have eight people per shift we should always have enough people at the start or end of the day.

We have 4 squads: days, evenings, mids and swings.

Days work 0700-1500
Eves work 1500-2300
Mids works 2300-0700
Swings works 2 days 0700-1700, and 2 evenings, 1) 1300-2300, 2) 1500-0100

Days, eveningss and swings have permanent days off and mids is self-relieving. We rotate our days-off the last Sunday of month and rotate one day back. Every squad has two hours of in-service training a week. Swings is on their first day shift from 1500-1700, evenings is the next day from 1500-1700, days the third day from 1300-1500, and mids is the last day from 2300-0100. I am on swing shift so right now my schedule is:

Sunday - 0700-1700 with in-service from 1500-1700
Monday - 0700-1700 Eves has in-service from 1500-1700
Tuesday - 1300-2300 Days has in-service from 1300-1500
Wednesday - 1500-0100 Mids has in-service from 2300-0100

My days off are Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Next Sunday is the last Sunday of the month so my schedule just rotates one day back - my days off will be Wed, Thurs and Friday and I will be on days Sat and Sun, and eves Mon and Tues. Confused???? It works great for us. We bid our shifts every six months by seniority and that way we know our days off well in advance to be able to plan vacations, holidays, etc.

We have 5 Dispatchers and have the following schedule:

Shift 1-- 2300 -0700 hrs with Mon/Tue off
Shift 2-- 0700 - 1500 hrs with Thur/Fri off
Shift 3-- 1500 - 2300 hrs with Wed/Thurs off
Relief-- 2300-0700 Mon/Tue, 1500 -2300 Thurs/Fri, 0700 - 1500 Fri. Sat/Sun off
Cover-- 1100-1900 Tue/Wed, 0700-1500 Thurs, 1900-0300 Fri/Sat. Sun/Mon off

The Cover Dispatcher usually shifts around to cover days off or sick days.

We are a close knit group of 5 and will all work to help each other out. Our City Council approved funding for a sixth Dispatcher position after Jan 1st, 2003. Then hopefully the Relief Dispatch won't have to do an 8-hour turnaround every week.

We work 8-hour shifts, and have nine people that work the following shifts--
Days- 0700-1500
Graves- 2300-0700

We have three people that work this -

Relief - scheduled either 1100-1900 or 1900-0300, and then fills in on vacations, sick calls etc.

We work 5 days of 2-off , five days on, 3-off. Days off rotate so everybody eventually gets a weekend off. This schedule works good, but the one problem is the lack of set days off prevent those of us who want to go back to school.

We have 5 Dispatchers and have the following schedule:

Shift 1 0700-1500 M-F with S/S off
Shift 2 1000-1800 M-F with S/S off
Shift 3 0700-1500 S/S and 1500-2300 M-W with T/F off
Shift 4 1500-2300 F-Su and 2300-0700 M-T with W/T off
Shift 5 2300-0700 W/S with M/T off

Our supervisor will fill in on day shift for vacations and move the rest of us around to a different shift. If someone calls in sick then we have to either come in 4 hours early or work 4 hours late.

We have four crews working a continuing cycle of 12-hour shifts. 2 x days shifts (0700-1900), 1 day off, 2 x night shifts (1900-0700), 3 days off. Our sister site does a straight 4 days on, 4 days off, 4 nights on, 4 days off and so on. It's an 8-day cycle and is forward rotating. If your days are Monday and Tuesday this week, then they will be Tuesday and Wednesday the week after, and Wednesday Thursday the week after and so on. Obviously the nights do the same. Because it's a continuing cycle, the staff is able to work out what crew is working Christmas 2003 if they care to push the roster out that far in advance. Because 12-hour shifts work out to an average 42 hours a week, every fourth pair of night shifts, 25% of the crew have what we call an "early knock off." That's to say they go home at 0230. This brings the average hours down to under 40. With regard to your question regarding permanent nights/days. We don't roster them as such, but we do have a few who regularly swap with another person their nights for days and vice-versa. Personally I don't like 12-hour shifts, and am grateful that in my position now I no longer work them. Yes the days-off are good, but 12 hours in this environment can be tough, and after 12 hours in the work place you don't get much time for much else. Some commute time, some meal time, some sleep time and it's back to work time again. That said, we did propose an 8-hour roster some time back, but it was stopped by the unions from even going to a staff vote.

Another solution on the 12-hour schedule to minimizing overtime incurred is to have cover shifts that work during peak periods that allow the on duty personnel to leave early two hours once a week or come in late two hours once a week. You can have your work week start and end any time during the week as long as it is the same time every week. Our day shift personnel start and end their work week at 1200 hours on Saturday and the night shift start and end their work week at 2400 hours on Saturday. The 12 hour shifts start and end at 0600 and 1800 each day so half of a Saturday shift goes on one week and half goes on the next week. You end up with 42 hours per week. Shift changes result in a 36 hour week and a 48 hour week in our center every four months.

Our Fire Alarm Office works with 24-hour dispatchers. They come in at 7 a.m. and work for 24 hours. A normal schedule for them is they work radio and phones from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Then they leave. They have the option of sticking around in the bunk room, or doing whatever they want. They will need to be back around 7 p.m. to work 7 p.m. 11 p.m. then they are off the dispatch floor for the remainder of the shift. If they are short handed they may work one more 3 or 4 hour rotation. So they are only "working" for about a total of 8 of the 24 hours. The rest of the time they can come and go as they please and do what they want.

My center does 12-hour shifts. We work 4 days on, 4 days off - (two 12-hour days, a 24 hour break, then two 12-hour nights. Then 4 days off). The schedule is nice because it allows the individual to determine if they want to be a "night person" or a "day person" depending on the OT shifts they take. There's always at least 2 OT slots to fill, not taking into account for sick leave or details to daywork, etc. The only restrictions the administration has put on us is a max of 18 hours in a row. Our standard crew is a civilian supervisor, a public safety supervisor (police sergeant or fire dept. captain), 2 fire dispatchers (one of which takes 911 calls when there's no working incident), 3 police dispatchers (one of which does computer work and notifications), and finally between 2 and 4 calltakers (one of which does teletypes also), between noon and midnight we have a police officer on OT who is trained to take non-emergency calls.

We are moving to a new schedule in February that has a combination of 9 hour and 12 hour shifts -

Wednesday-Thursday-Friday-Saturday: three 9-hour shifts on nights, days and swings. The overlap periods are used for training and briefing

Sunday-Monday-Tuesday: two 12-hour shifts on days and nights

Sign up is by seniority, with management's right to reassign to balance the skill level on each shift. Every 6 months employees must rotate to another shift, and the days-off for the 9-hour shift also change (Sun-Mon-Tue-Wed, etc.). This allows people who want to work 12's the opportunity to do so, and those that don't can choose the shift of their choice.

Chad Adkins is a dispatcher at the Ohio State Highway Patrol and offered their unique schedule that offers a fantastic benefit--4 days off around the weekend! He explains:

We have four full time dispatchers, twenty four hour coverage... Each dispatcher picks a shift every six months but for two 3 month periods... We have a day shift 0700-1500 a evening shift 1500-2300  a midnight 2300-0700 and a fill shift who works various shifts during the week covering days off. It goes like this for everyone...

You work 7 eight hour shifts and have 2 days off
You work 6 eight hour shifts and have 2 days off
You work 7 eight hour shifts and have 4 days off

The way this shift works out the four days you have off are always a Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. The shift bid always starts off on a Sunday and somehow it always works out that your 4 days are this long weekend... I think it allows two shifts of overtime in a two week period although this is not a problem for us to cover. Working seven days can get old but it's really nice when you get that long weekend it really makes it a great schedule... I really like it and it provides really good coverage...

Here is how we do a 12-hour schedule at our communications center:

M-T 6am 6pm
W-T off
F-S-S 6pm-6am
M-T off
W-T 6am-6pm
F-S-S off
M-T 6pm-6am
W-T off
F-S-S 6am-6pm
M-T Off
W-T 6pm - 6am
F-S-S off
Start at the top

We work 48 one week and 36 the next and are paid every two weeks.

FDNY dispatchers work a 12-hour work schedule:

two day tours -- 0700 to 1900 then off 24 hours; return for

two night tours -- 1900 to 0700 then off 96 hours

Cycle then repeated and again off 96 hours. On the third Cycle you get off 120 hours and then you start over.

While I was in the Military we worked "short-handed" for a while and had to go to 12-hour shifts. The scedule we worked was as follows (with 4 shifts):

A-Shift 2 on 2 off 3 on 2 off 2 on 3 off
B-Shift 2 off 2 on 3 off 2 on 2 off 3 on
C-Shift (Same as A-Shift execpt as Nights)
D-Shift (Same as B-Shift except as Nights)

This is not perfect as you will have one week as overtime and one week short. But in the long run it all works out pretty even.

Our communications center rotates using 12 hours shifts from 0600 - 1800, 1800-0600. Our usual rotation is 4 on and 4 off, and we work 2 days and 2 nights. We utilize 4 dispatch crews with 2 dispatchers and 1 captain per shift. The schedule works out that we work weekdays for 6-8 wks at a time and then work weekends 6-8 wks at a time. Every so often during the rotation we rotate into position with a new Paramedic crew and we end up woking 2 days and 3 nights or 3 days and two nights - and then having three off. Our department has been doing this for 2-3 years and our dispatchers like it because of having so many days off. One of our new dispatchers came from the county who works 7-7 shifts and he likes the 6-6 shift better.

Our agency has 5 dispatchers, all full time. Four of us work rotating shifts and the fifth covers vacation, sick leave, etc. The rotating shift is as follows:

1st (7-3pm) Friday thru Wed -- off Thur.-Sun. 4 days
2nd (3-11p) Mon thru Sun -- off following Mon.- Tues
3rd (11-7a) Wed. Tues -- off Wed-Thur

Sick time is low. The drawbacks are when you are working alone and you get busy.

[Help! Do you know how or why this schedule is FLSA compliant? Leave a comment on the news page.]

We have four full-time dispatchers, this is how our shift works: We have four teams A,B,C,D, it looks confusing at first but we all love it, you each have two weekends off a month with a total of 14 days off a month. On B team this is how the schedule works:

fri, sat, sun, mon            midnights  6pm-6am
tues, wed, thurs              off
fri, sat, sun                 dayshift  6am-6pm
mon                           off
tues, wed, thurs              midnights  6pm-6am
fri, sat, sun                 off
mon, tue,wed, thu,            dayshift 6am-6pm
fri,sat,sun,mon,tue,wed,thur  off

Then it starts back to the begining on Friday midnights. All the shifts work exactly the same. This also helps sick because you do have so much off time and when someone does call in sick it's not hard to get someone else to come in.

We rotate shifts and days-off. Every four months we have a shift change. The supervisor passes around a form, and you pick which shift you want in order of preference. The supervisors make the final decisions, but they also know about making everyone happy. This is also the one area that seniority comes into play. If you have 10 years or more seniority, you automatically get your choice. We also have days-off rotations. Every 4 weeks we roll back one day. This way, people get to have weekends off once in a while.

In the Province of British Columbia (Canada) EMD/Paramedics work the following shift patterns--12.5 hours, 2 days, 2 nights followed by 6 days off. 10-hour pattern 4 days 0800 to 1800 hrs followed by 4 days off. or the administrative pattern (normally for EMD charge officers) five 7-hour days and weekends off plus all statutory holidays off. Other patterns may be introduced as required and agreed upon by the Service and the Union.

We work 10/14's---two 10-hour days and two 14-hour nights and 4 days off.

12-hour shifts

Tue, Wed       ON
Thu, Fri      OFF
Sat, Sun, Mon  ON
Tue Wed       OFF
Thu, Fri       ON
Sat, Sun, Mon OFF
Tue, Wed       ON

This generates nine hours of overtime per month, allows three-day weekend every other work week.

12 hour shifts, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Nights--Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon     Off--Tue, Wed, Thur
Days----Fri, Sat, Sun          Off--Mon
Nights--Tue, Wed, Thur         Off--Fri, Sat, Sun
Days----Mon, Tue, Wed, Thur    Off--Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon, Tue,Wed, Thur

Our agency works 12-hours shifts like:

    Week-1 Week-2
Mon   on    off
Tue   on    off
Wed  off    on
Thu  off    on
Fri   on    off
Sat   on    off
Sun   on    off

We have nine dispatchers, two working at the same time. We work:

Mon-Tue off
Wed-Thu-Fri-Sat-Sun on
Wed-Thu-Fri-Sat-Sun-Mon-Tue on
Wed-Thu off
Fri-Sat-Sun-Mon-Tue on
Wed-Thu off
Fri on
Sat-Sun off
Sat-Sun off
Mon-Tue-Wed-Thu-Fri-Sat-Sun on
back to the start...

Besides this schedule, we have three shifts, and some dispatchers rotate among two or all three shifts

Our comm center works 12-hour shifts, four days a week. We rotate between the day and night shifts: work two day shifts, 24 hours off, then work two night shifts and take four days off.

We work 12-hour shifts, working 2-on, 2-off, 3-on, 2-off, 2-on and 3-off. We rotate within this set-up on four different shifts: 0700-1900, 1900-0700, 1100-2300 and 1500-0300.

We work the following schedule: 7 night shifts of 2200-0700, then two days-off. Then four swing days of 1400-2200, then three day shifts of 0700-1400. We take two days-off, and begin another set of shifts--2 day shifts, 3 swing shifts, 2 days, then 3 days-off. The entire rotation begins again. Notice that there are lag periods, but also some quick turn-arounds on some shifts.

The Los Angeles Police Department works 13 deployment periods, each 28 days long. Dispatchers submit their most-wanted days-off in order for that period, and then supervisors make up the schedule based on seniority and the days-off request. This allows dispatchers to set up the type of schedule they want and to request--if not receive--the specific dates off they want. For example, one dispatcher might want to work only 3-4 days before taking one day off, while another would prefer to work more than 7 days in a row in order to take 7 days-off in a row.

We work 8-hour shifts that rotate days-off every four week. We are hoping to change to a combination of 10-hour and 8-hour shifts, working 0800-1800, 2000 to 0800 and 1600 to 2400.

At our com center we currently work 10-hour shifts, working 4 days on, 3 off, 4 on, and 4 off.

We work two day shifts from 0700 to 1900, have 24 hours off, then work two night shifts from 1900 to 0700, for a total of 48 hours per block. Since we are based on an 8-day week, and the pay period starts Saturday morning, you can have anywhere from 76 to 96 hours per pay period.

We work 12-hour shifts--three work days, 4 days-off, for four rotations. After two weeks, we rotate from days to nights, or vice-versa.

Our center has two types of shifts--12-hour and 8-hour. Our week begins on Saturday:

Week #1: Saturday 12, Sunday 12, Monday 0, Tuesday 0, Wednesday 12, Thursday 12, Friday 0
Week #2: Saturday 0, Sunday 0, Monday 12, Tuesday 12, Wednesday 0, Thursday 0, Friday 12

Our 8 hour shifts are all Monday through Friday during the day.

We work a modified 4 x 9 hour shift:

4 work days, 3 off
then 5 work days, 2 off

Here's the routine I work:

1 p.m. to 7.45 a.m. from Thursday night to Thursday morning, 6 days off
3.45 p.m. to 11.30 p.m. from Thursday to Sunday, 2 days off
7.30 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Wednesday to Friday, 2 days off
3.45 p.m. to 11.30 p.m. from Monday to Wednesday, 2 days off
7.30 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Saturday to Tuesday, 2 days off
and I start the routine over

We work 12-hour shifts, with 2-on, 2-off, 3-on, 2-off, 2-on and 3-off arrangement.

We work 8-hours shifts, 5-on, 2-off with the days off moving back one day every two weeks (for example, Thursday and Friday off this week and next then Wednesday and Thursday of the following two weeks). This provides for weekends off every 14 weeks.

We work 2-on, 2-off, 3-on, 2-off, 2-on, 3-off. In a two-week pay period, we work a total of seven days. For example:

Work Monday and Tuesday
Off Wednesday and Thursday
Work Friday, Saturday and Sunday
Off Monday and Tuesday
Work Wednesday and Thursday
Off Friday, Saturday and Sunday

My agency works 3-12's one week, then 4-12's the next week, in an agreement with the dispatchers' association that we had to sign. To give you a better idea, my schedule currently, is Sunday through Tuesday, 1800 - 0600, and every other week I work Saturday night. I am scheduled with the same officers and co-dispatcher each day. We are paid 4 hours of overtime on every check. We have 9 dispatchers, with two on-duty at all times. This schedule works well for the majority of us, but it's sometimes hard to cover sick leave.

Our 12-hour shifts change at 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., and are configured:

2 day shifts
1 night shift
1 day shift
2 night shifts

This configuration allows from two to six days off (although six days off only occurs once every six weeks or so).

We were working four 10-hour days with four off on month 1, then it rotated into FIVE 10 hours with three off on month 2. Month 1 got weekends off, Month 2 worked weekend. Even though the time sheet showed 40 hours in a pay period we were actually working 50 hours a week for a month. Days off rotate. We got tired.

M    T    W    T    F     S      S     M      T     W    T      F     S     S
10 |OFF| OFF | OFF  |10  |10  |10  |  10   |  10  |OFF | OFF | OFF |  10  | 10

So as life has it I like puzzles and came up with several ideas for 12 hr shift and 10 hrs shifts. The 12 hour consisted of 3 on with four off with one 8 hour payback day during a 2 week period which consisted of 40 hours per pay period. The 10 hour was a rotation of days off from month 1 to month 2 -

Month 1

4 on 2 off, - 4 on 3 off, - 4 on 3off, - 3 on 3 off, - 3 on 2 off, then ...

Month 2

3 on 3off, - 3 on 3 off - 4 on 3off - 3 on 2 off - 4 on 2 off and then back to

My latest adventure is

Month 1

3 on 2 off, - 3 on 2 off, - 2 on 2 off, - 3 on 2 off, - 4 on, 3 off -

rotating to ...

Month 2

3 on 2 off, - 2on 2 off, -3 on 2 off, - 3on 2 off, -2 on 4 off, - 4 on 1 off -

rotating back to month 1

With this schedule both months get partial weekends, Saturday one week, then Sunday the next week, then Saturday, and so on. We wanted to work 8 hour days with 6 days on and 3 days off. But the department will not let us work it since we are not commissioned officers. They said it was illegal and they would have to pay us 8 hrs over time when the 6 days fell M-S and T-S. We would really like 8 hours with alot of days off somehow and still meet the requirements of full time employees. We looked at the 4 on - 2 off, 8 hrs. But the rotation at one point would have us work Four 10 hour days with only 2 off for a 2 week period. We really did not like it.

My agency works 12-hour shifts on a 14-day pay period. In the example I'll start on Monday but our pay period actually runs two weeks from Saturday to the following Friday. It works out to something like 84 hours in a 7-day week, but that's way better than the alternatives (working yourself to death while other people never work OT).

Monday-Tuesday on
Wednesday-Thursday off
Friday-Saturday-Sunday on
Monday-Tuesday off
Wednesday-Thursday on
Friday-Saturday-Sunday off

In Chicago we have 5 shifts 3 are 8 hour and 2 are 10 hour. The ten hour shifts work 5 on and three off with 3 three day weekends.

Off Mon   Tues  Wed
	Tues  Wed   Thurs
	Wed   Thurs Fri
	Thurs Fri   Sat Sun
	Fri   Sat   Sun Mon
	Sat   Sun   Mon Tues

Our agency works 10 hour shifts. We work the same shift for a 3 month period of time and then rotate to the next shift. Our shifts consist of the following hours: 0700-1700, 0900-1900, 1100-2100, 1700-0300, 1900-0500 and 2100-0700. We currently have 9 dispatchers and there are times when one of them ends of working a few hours alone depending on the shift and vacations.

Have seen several postings about work schedules and recently looked through a guide book that had been checked out of the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy Library. The guide contained numerus work schedules and included a review of each which answered about any question you would have about the schedule. At this time I do not know if the guide is still in print, but may be available for check out at larger libraries or your State Law Enforcement Academy like this one was. The title is: The Manger's Guide to Alternative Work Schedules, written by: Weldon L. Booth, Institute of Police Technology and Management, University of North Florida

We work two weeks of day work, 0700 to 1900 and two weeks of night, 1900 to 0700 hrs. With every other weekend off. The week starts on Monday, two days on, two day off, three days on, two off, two day on three days off. Work Monday and Tuesday, off Wedusday and Thursday, work Friday, Saturday and Sunday, off Monday and Tuesday, work Wedusday and Thursday and Off Friday,Saturday and Sunday. And when you start night shift, it like having Monday off,because to don't have to be in work until 1900 that day.

I have been a dispatcher for over 10 years and currently work in Coos County Oregon. I did not watch the Montel show, but hope to get it on tape soon. Just like the Oprah show on 911 mistakes I think that every dispatcher should listen and learn. I was sickened by the things that were on the Philadelphia tape and I know that I will be just as upset when I hear the things on the Montel tapes. I find it very sad that a few bad & under trained dispatchers seem to get the headlines when there are so many of us good ones out there.


We run on a mix of 5/8's and 4/10's and it works very well for us. We have 11 dispatchers and one supervisor on the books. The schedule looks like this:

days1: 0600-1400 fri-sat off
days2: 0600-1400 sun-mon off
day cover: 0730-1730 tue-wed-thur off
swings1: 1400-2200 fri-sat off
swings2: 1400-2200 sun-mon off
swing cover: 1600-0200 tue-wed-thur off
graves1: 2200-0600 fri-sat off
graves2: 2200-0600 sun-mon off
grave cover 2130-0730 tue-wed-thu off
float 1: cover all time off and vacation for dayshift and 1/2 of swing shift. shift to work if not needed flexible from 0600 to 1600hrs.
float 2: cover all time off and vacation for swingshift and 1/2 of graveyard. shift to work if not needed flexible from 1600hrs to 0600hrs.

Comm Supervisor also fills in on the boards as needed.

This schedule seems to have a little for everyone. We work on a mandatory rotation so no one gets stuck with the floating shifts for more than one in every 2 years.

The dispatcher center I work for provides fire dispatching services to 5 cities in Northern Jersey. We dispatch and average of 9,000 call per year. (an average of 4 calls after midnight) There are 12 dispatchers. There are 3 dispatchers per crew with a minimum manning of 2 dispatchers. We work 2-10hr days (0800-1800) and off for 48hrs. and then we work 2-14 hr. nights (1800-0800) and 72 hrs. or 3 days off. In between our night shifts we only have 10 hrs. off. Most dispatchers get 4 hours sleep in between their night shifts.

Day Shift 0700 - 1700 Currently 6 positions

1. F(riday) S(aturday) S(unday) off 2. SMT

3. TWT 4. TFS
5. SSM 6. MTW

Swing Shift 1700 - 0300 Currently 7 positions

1. FSS 2. SMT
3. TWT 4. TFS
5. SSM 6. MTW
7. WTF

Graveyard Shift 2100 - 0700 Currently 4 positions

1. FSS 2. SMT
3. TWT 4. WTF

1 Vacation relief

Shifts are chosen by seniority and 'rotation' comes up every three months. There is not much change among the senior dispatchers, as they can pick their preferred shifts. New hires tend to end up on day shift, working weekends, or swing shift on weekends. One of the swing shift positions occasionally will be pulled up to cover parts of day shift, on a 1100 to 2100 shift, as required. On day shift,

We have the Comm Op 3 supervisor and one Comm Op 2 shift supervisor on duty.

A Comm Op 2 supervisor will also sometimes work the 1100 to 2100 shift, with the Comm Op 3 as line supervisor until 1100, and be relieved by a Comm Op 2 for 2100 - 0700. On some occasions, there will not be a Comm Op 2 on from 0300 - 0700. At that time, the senior operator (based on seniority) will assume the duties of a Comm Op 2. We are trying to get the union to negotiate a pay increase for Comm Op 1 Senior Operators who have to assume Comm Op 2 duties without choice.

We are authorized at:

24 Communications Operator 1 positions,

4 Communications Operator 2 positions ( Supervisors )

1 Communications Operator 3 position ( Dispatch Supervisor ) (AKA Boss lady )

We currently have 18 Comm Op 1's out of training, and 3 in training. Shift positions will be opened up as new hires complete training.

Day Shift    0700 - 1700     Currently  6 positions
1. F(riday) S(aturday) S(unday) off     2. SMT
3. TWT                                  4. TFS
5. SSM                                  6. MTW

Swing Shift   1700 - 0300    Currently 7 positions
1. FSS                                  2. SMT
3. TWT                                  4. TFS
5. SSM                                  6. MTW
7. WTF

Graveyard Shift  2100 - 0700  Currently 4 positions
1. FSS                                   2. SMT
3. TWT                                   4. WTF

1 Vacation relief

Shifts are chosen by seniority and 'rotation' comes up every three months. There is not much change among the senior dispatchers, as they can pick their preferred shifts. New hires tend to end up on day shift, working weekends, or swing shift on weekends. One of the swing shift positions occasionally will be pulled up to cover parts of day shift, on a 1100 to 2100 shift, as required. On day shift, we have the Comm Op 3 supervisor and one Comm Op 2 shift supervisor on duty. A Comm Op 2 supervisor will also sometimes work the 1100 to 2100 shift, with the Comm Op 3 as line supervisor until 1100, and be relieved by a Comm Op 2 for 2100 - 0700. On some occasions, there will not be a Comm Op 2 on from 0300 - 0700. At that time, the senior operator (based on seniority) will assume the duties of a Comm Op 2. We are trying to get the union to negotiate a pay increase for Comm Op 1 Senior Operators who have to assume Comm Op 2 duties without choice.

Our central precinct deputies work this:

A squad Mon-Thu 0600-1600 hrs
B squad Tue-Fri 1400-2400 hrs
C squad Wed-Sat 2000-0600 hrs
D squad Fri-Sun 0600-1600 hrs, Mon 1400-2400 hrs
E squad Sat 1400-2400 hrs, Sun 1800-0600 hrs, Mon 2000-0600 hrs, Tues 2200-0600 hrs

They overlap for a two hour training and extra coverage at peak times

Our comm center works this:

Day shift Sun-Thu 0700-1500 hrs, days off Fri-Sat
Eve shift Tues-Sat 1500-2300 hrs, days off Sun-Mon
Mid shift all days 2300-0700 hrs, nobody has same days off
Relief shift Fri-Sat 0700-1700 hrs (training on Fri 1500-1700 hrs, covering eve training Sat 1500-1700 hrs), Sun 1500-0100 hrs (covering mid training 2300-0100 hrs), Mon 1300-2300 hrs (covering day training 1300-1500 hrs)

This schedule works pretty good but it would make more sense if Sunday was 1300-2300 and Monday was 1500-0100. We tried to figure out something that would give everyone 10 hour days and couldn't manage it. If you figure something out we would be interested in knowing!!

I work two 12 hr day shifts, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. then two 12 hr night shifts , 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. followed by 4 days off. Also after my second day shift, there is a 24 hr period off. Its a great schedule, I worked the 8 hr shifts, seems like no time off. I would not trade this schedule and love the time off.

I also work in a comm center which does Police Fire Ems 911. We too work a 12-hour shift, but slightly different than those shown. We work 6-6, 4 on (night), 3 off, 3 on (day), 1 off, 3 on (night), 3 off, 4 on (day), 7 off. The time off is great for working part time jobs, but can also prove to be expensive, its like a vacation a month.

In our communication center we work 12 hour shifts. It goes like this: 3 days 8 am--8 pm, 3 off, 3 nights 8pm - 8 am, 3 off, then repeat. Those 3 nights shifts get very long. BTW, I am in Washington state.

We have the following shifts:

1st Shift early 2230-0630
1st Shift late 2300-0700
2nd Shift early 0630-1430
2nd Shift late 0700-1500

Relief Shift 1100-1900 unless covering 2nd or 3rd shift shortage

3rd Shift early 1430-2230
3rd Shift late 1500-2300

The idea is to provide an overlap of coverage so we do not have everyone leaving or coming in at the same time. If something is going on there is time to pass it on or have at lest 1 Dispatcher up to speed all the time.

Most of the Comm Centers within the (California Highway Patrol) run shifts on this pattern: 0600-1400, 1400-2200, 2200-0600. Sometimes there are "overlap" shifts as well: 1800-0200, or 1900-0300, sometimes there's 1000-1800, etc. A couple of the centers offset their shifts just a tad, running 'em 0700-1500, 1500-2300, 2300-0700. We're currently (3-1999) checking into what we call "alternate work week" schedules, which will allow us to change to a 4/10 plan, or a 3/12 plan, depending on how those can be worked out at the individual Comm Center(s) with their staffing requirements versus actual, current staffing levels. The AWW plan is being driven by the dispatchers' bargaining unit. (Commonly referred to as "the union."). Right now, we work 5/40.

If your agency is operating on one of these schedules and you submitted it to the survey PLEASE contact me via email. I would like to get copies of these schedules ASAP to forward for possible change. A complete cycle in an EXCEL spreadsheet or similar would be the best, if needed I can arrange for you to fax a paper copy. Please feel free to remove/change names to Shift A etc..We currently work: 7 Days 2 off/6 4-12 2 off/7 00-08 4 off. I've worked it 10 years, and its good, but many think there could be something better out there. At a minimum one WEEKEND OFF PER MONTH is required. Any schedule that doesn't have this will only increase call offs even more than what we have now. The schedules I am interested in are:

2 Other (4 days on/ 3 days off)
3 Other (4 days on/ 4 days off)
2 Other (5 days on/ 2 days off/ 5 days on/ 3 days off)
1 Other (ABC Platoon)
1 Other (2 on/ 2 off/ 3 on/ 2 off/ 2 on/ 3 off)
2 Other (6 days on/ 3 days off)
1 Other (4 on/ 2 off/ 4 on/ 2 off/ 5 on/ 2 off )
1 Other (4 on/ 3 off/ 3 on/ 4 off)
1 Other (4 on/ 3 off/ 3 on/ 1 off/ 3 on/ 3 off/ 4 on/ 7 off)
1 Other (4 on/ 4 off twice, 4 on/ 5 off twice)

I read your message asking for information on various shifts..I am a Member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and work as a dispatcher in a communication centre that dispatches for 63 detachments of the R.C.M.P. We operate with a minimum of 10 to a maximum of 12 dispatchers, and dispatch, complaint take and status keep for up to 250 mobile patrol units. We work 12 hour shifts 0700 hrs-1900 hrs and 1900 hrs- 0700 hrs, with a few swing shifts thrown in to cover off the busy times. We work 2 days/2 nights and four off. And we have one hell of a time with SOME people abusing sick leave. Some people call in sick all the time and others have never taken a sick day in over 5 years. When you find a solution to this problem, let me know. In fact one of my co-workers in another province has set up a major task force to try and solve this age old problem.

While I like the present schedule, it does have some problems. One way to solve a lot of the problems we have would be to work 4/10's Mon thru Thu and have the PT/Per Diems fill weekends, the problem all our PT/Per Diems would quit! The PT/PD's leave notes about when they can work and when they can't. BZZT! Sorry gang but that wouldn't wash with me, the PT/PD's should be glad I don't make the schedule. This is abuse of the FT's and that's one of the reasons we need to find a schedule which meets: 1) 80 hours/per pay period 2) Min. 1 weekend PER MONTH off 3) 10 Hr shifts are SLIGHTLY possible. 4) 12-hour shifts are OUT, period. Due to personnel dislikes, managements absolute refusal to allow 12 hour shifts. We can't get the controllers office to understand our present schedule and that we don't "close!"

I would also consider schedules which allow for a PERMANENT midnight shift, and allows others to rotate between days and afternoons. We would have JUST ENOUGH people, VOLUNTARILY too, to have a permanent midnight shift and rotate the others among the other 2 shifts. We took a poll and most people signed up for either D or A with just enough to have full staffing on M via volunteers. I would love to work permanent M, but telling a handful of people they would work permanent D or A till a spot opened would cause more grief.

Our center works a 12 hour rotating shift of 3-on and 3-off. Shifts consist of a minimum of three operators and one supervisor.

We work two,12-hr shifts and one 16-hr shift with four days-off, (with) no rotating. We all have set shifts. We love it.

We also work 12-hour shifts. I love it. I have to drive 50 miles to work and this way I'm only on the road three to four days a week instead of five. We wanted to work the 3-on and 3-off but our general manager said he wouldn't go for it. So we work Monday, Tuesday and Thursday one week and Wednesday, Friday and Saturday the next.

I work in Oklahoma, we work 8-hr shifts as well w/ two days off a week. I work 5 days on, 2 days off, 3 days on, 2 days off, 7 days on. This is so that we rotate the weekends off. I work graveyards which are from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. Not too bad, but makes me tired. We are such a small town, I want to go to a bigger agency, and plus we get min wage...YIPEEE! That needs to change too!

Here in Rhode Island 3-day 12-hour shifts rotating every six weeks. You get a week off every 18 weeks, but with overtime (it) doesn't always happen that way.

When I used to work in xxxxxxxxx we worked 12-hr. shifts. Initially we worked 3-on, 1-off, 3-on and the next week would be 3-off, 1-on, 3-off. It was wonderful to take 1 day vacation and have a 7-day stretch. But the county decided that was 'against the law' (never did find out exactly what law) so we went to a different schedule. 2-on, 2-off, 3-on then 2-off, 2-on, 3-off. Every other weekend was off and it was always 3 days. That part was nice but the 12-hour shifts got old after 10 years! Now I work at (fire districts) and we work four 10-hour days and have three days off each week. This shift rotates every eight weeks so your days off rotate each shift change but the three days off a week is sweet! And no more 12-hr shifts!

I work for the xxxxxxxx. We work 8 hours per day/5 days per week. Our two days-off per week advance by one day every eight weeks (56-day cycle). We also hold a "shift bid" every four months where every person rebids their preferred shifts- which is then awarded on seniority if more than the minimum staffing sign up for a particular shift. Our rates of pay are currently divided into five "steps". A new hire begins at Step 1 and advances a "step" every year until s/he maxes out at the end of five years. A new dispatcher earns $535.27 per week starting and finally makes $701.05 per week at Step 5. Our union is currently trying to negotiate a 4/2 schedule in which our working day is extended from eight to 8.5 hours.

I'm not sure which would be worse, working 16 hours straight or working 8 days of 8 hours shifts. Mine works like this. It's a three week rotation, follows the pattern below, working an 8-hour shift on the days I have x'd, then it starts over at the end of the three weeks.

Su M  T  W  Th F  S
   x  x  x     x  x
x  x        x  x  x 
x     x  x  x  x

So there are a couple of times during this rotation that we only get one day off at a time, but on the flip side we only work 8-hour shifts and we don't work more than four days at a time. It also guarantees that everyone, even the newbies, gets at least one weekend off every three weeks. The one day that everyone is scheduled to work every week is Friday, and that makes it easier to schedule training. Just schedule it for Friday and you already have extra people on staff to cover. What I like to day is use my vacation time to take the Friday off before my weekend, so that I have a three day weekend.

Hello again....We also work 12 hr shift. We just got our 4 on (2 days 2 nights) and 5 off rotation with 5 on every 6 weeks (or 8 weeks, not sure at the moment), so we don't use up all our stats. I love the 12 hrs, and would not give them up for the world! We also have a 10-hr rotation that is only manned Mon--Fri 0800 to 1800. Would anyone be offended if I told you we made C$16.21 per hour (Canadian)?

We work a four-day week: 8-12-12-8 and the two 12-hr shifts back-to-back sure drain the energy out of you.

During our recent contract negotiations the city of (xxxxx), the jurisdiction who runs our county 911 center, announced that they were going to pay several thousand dollars to a consulting firm to analyze what we do and make recommendations regarding staffing levels for our center. We dispatch for six police departments, including one relatively large and busy one, and sixteen fire departments (although the six EMS providers we work with dispatch their own units the 911 calls start with us and are speed-transferred to them). With all of that we cover seven primary radio frequencies and two secondary ones. Our (state information network) terminal is supposedly the busiest single terminal in the state. Believe it or not, we do not use call-takers.

Before taking over dispatching for the county sheriff, the state police, one small local police agency, and ten of the current sixteen; we worked with four dispatchers at normal times and went down to three during the off hours to save overtime (we have been chronically short-staffed all of the eight and a half years I've worked here). hen we took on the new departments--becoming a county central dispatch -- the management planned on doing it with no increase in staffing. You should have seen them scrambling to get an extra body in after the cut-over. Ever since then we have continued to add work load yet have never increased staffing levels other than the one they added from day one (it's been four years).

This consulting group analyzed a sample of our call load and radio traffic and sent back a thirty page report. This report announced (surprise !!) that we were grossly understaffed and recommended an increase of four more dispatchers (total) and one and half per shift (two or three more when really busy, one when when moderately busy, and no increase at slow periods). Even more interesting than this is that they strongly advised a regular increase over the next ten years, noting a continual rise in call-load and radio traffic.

Our department management was anxious to get their hands on this report before making budget requests for the coming year but, despite the fact that it arrived weeks before the budget was determined, there was no increase in our operating budget. So what was the purpose? This consultant told them the same thing we have been telling them for years but they still chose to ignore it.

We work 24 hour shifts with 6 hours of sleep (unless busy) and 1 hour meal (unless busy) and 2 hours breaks (unless busy!) per shift. We work x-o-x-o-o-x-o-x-o-o-o-o. Over timers get two extra hours of sleep on the second and subsequent shift in a row. Can't be forced to work more than 48 and can only volunteer to work 72 straight without permission (usually granted). 10 hours off resets the clock to zero for consecutive shifts. We really like it! Work 10 days per month and even if you are a over time ho like me, there is still plenty of time off.

I work for a department that currently has only one dispatcher on duty at a time. Once we are back up to full staffing we will be operating a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, Swing, and Midshift (1100-1900) and two part-time dispatchers. We will be running two dispatchers some of the time during 1st and 2nd shift. When we will have two dispatchers on-duty at a time we are looking at having one that is primarily the call-taker and the other that is primarily the dispatcher. We only have one station that is set up for dispatching, and a secondary desk that will be set up as the call-taker station. (In this configuration...): 1) Does each dispatcher stay at the same position all shift or trade out at 4 hours or 2 hours, etc.? 2) How do you handle the priority call (i.e. in-progress call, domestic, etc.)? Does the one taking the call go ahead and move over to the dispatch console and handle the call or do you relay the information back and forth? 3) Which position is responsible for running license and tag information, NCIC, NLETS, etc.? 4) Any other information that would help us in this transition...

At my agency, we trade out halfway through (the shift). I'll usually spend one half of the night calltaking and the other half dispatching. That helps break up the monotony and reduces the burnout which can happen quickly on a Friday or Saturday night with as many as 30 officers on a channel.

The Albuquerque fire department firefighters work a 10-hour day shift (0800-1800), then a 24-hour shift (0800-0800), then a 14-hour night shift (1800-0800). They then have an unknown number of days-off.

I work at Deschutes County 911 in Bend, Oregon. We are currently working 4-12's. That's four days on and four days off, 12-hour shifts. We work three months of day shift and three months of nights. The best part about it is the four days-off. It gives you time to recover from the four days on, especially if they are day shift, which is the busiest for us--steady from 0700 to 1900 hrs. We've been on this shift for several years now, switching at the employees request from eight hour shifts. Most of the police around here also work this shift, but they work it two days, two nights, then four days off. I've heard this is a much more demanding shift on your body, but they seem to like it.

We have been on 12-hour shifts for two years now. The employees like it and the moral has improved a lot since we went to them. We were on 10-8 hour days with 4 days off. One of the problems with 5-8's is the time off. About the time night shifters get adjusted to a normal persons schedule it is time to go back to nights. We have worked out a 12, 12, 8, 8 schedule with 3 days off. The schedule provides about the same coverage with more people during the busy days and times. It also allows our console working supervisors more time to be a supervisor and less time having to work a radio. The schedule has 3-4 people each day working 8-hour days, which helps us cover the problem of mandatory overtime. We will just have them stay over 4 hours or come in early 4 hours. This schedule seems to answer some of the questions everyone is asking: what do we do about mandatory overtime, the fatigue of working 3-4 12-hour shifts in a row, and keeping the idea of "the more days off the better." I am working on it with another dispatcher under my supervision. We are developing a policy on shift bidding and announcing it in July. Our first official shift bid will occur in January of 99. We will probably approach the manager with the 12-12-8-8 schedule between July and November so we can go into it in January 99.

Here we work set shifts. It is based upon seniority. New hires are assigned where needed. Days off rotate, which ends up giving each person at least two weeks off per month. Employees are given the opportunity to request shift change based upon openings and their seniority. It seems to work well, but I miss working nights as I have been on days for about 5 years.

I have worked for two different agencies. The current agency uses 12-hour shifts, working two on, two off, three on, two off, two on, and three off. On Tuesday, there are 4 hrs shifts where employees are able to trade hours so that they just work and 8-hour shift. Every two weeks the rotation moves from days to nights. This way, there is a 3 day weekend every other week. Most of the communications centers here work on that type of shift. The other location was permanent shifts and it was hard to get some of the people off night shift, so new hires usually go where ever the opening has occurred. Everyone has options as to rotation. We have one shift where one preferred to work nights and the other days. It is flexible to adapt to everyone's need.

Here we go with a four on, two off permanent shift....a six week rotation..every fifth and sixth week u only work 32 hours and thereby get 12 more days off per year....We are contracted to receive 37.5 hours every week regular pay to defeat short payweeks. This works for us!

We use an ABCXYZ schedule. A,B, and C squads follow 2 trick, meaning: 5 day shifts followed by 2 days off then 5 evening shifts followed by 3 days off. 2 squads working any given day and the other off. Days off thereby rotate forward through the week. you get a Saturday and Sunday off together for about 4 weeks every 3 1/2 months or so.

Midnight squads X, Y, and Z use a 4 on 2 off shift, with 2 midnight squads on every night and 1 off.

Assignment to midnights is on a volunteer basis. If enough volunteers are not received to fill the squads, forced midnights are based on reverse seniority. Low man goes for 3 months and then can come off and cannot be forced back to midnights for 1 year.

As far as differential goes, I suggest you follow the shift schedule that your P.D. or F.D. follows, then maybe you can try to get the same differential as they do. Where I work we follow the P.D. schedule but have lost some of the differential perks due to poor representation

Our center has 6 police dispatchers, 3 fire dispatchers 9 call-takers, and 2 supervisors when the room is full to capacity. Our shifts are on 4 day rotations....we work 12 hour shifts. 0700-1900 for two days and then 1900-0700 for two days. We then have four days off. Many people like this shift due to the 4 days off but others have trouble working for 12 hours. We have had some controversy over the shifts and it is expected to change sometime in the near future.

Permanent midnight shift, volunteer basis, if not enough reverse seniority to fill vacancies. Then have a rotation between days & afternoons for the other shifts.

Today we started talking about what times the shifts would run. We're going to have to talk more to our personnel about what they would like for the 4/10 shift hours. We figured 1400-2400, but are less sure about the midnight shift hours. Traffic is so bad here in the mornings that people might not want to get off as late as 8 a.m., and with our low staffing and busy periods, it might make more sense for us to go with 2100-0700, giving us more nighttime overlap. Plus, the more senior people, who are more likely to want to stay with the current 5/8 plan, are mostly on day shift, and this will probably allow them to stay on their same shifts, which would probably work well. The big problem with the reshuffling is going to be days off. If people aren't going to be able to get days off as good as they have now (i.e., weekend days), we are probably in for a big battle. Also, if this is a lot more complicated, the supervisors might block the change.

My department faced this same issue a year ago. We considered the 4-2 and a "funky 5-2, 6-3,...." schedule. By majority consensus we went with a 4 days on, 2 days off schedule. It is a 6-week rotation with only 2 weeks of 10-hour shifts. The other 4-weeks are all 8-hour shifts. It goes like this:

Week 1:   S     M     T     W     T     F     S
hours     8     8     8     8     x     x     8
Week 2:   S     M     T     W     T     F     S
hours     8     8     8     x     x     8     8
Week 3:   S     M     T     W     T     F     S
hours     8     8     x     x     8     8     8
Week 4:   S     M     T     W     T     F     S
hours     8     x     x     8     8     8     8
Week 5:   S     M     T     W     T     F     S
hours     x     x    10    10    10    10     x
Week 6:   S     M     T     W     T     F     S
hours     x    10    10    10    10     x     x

Then the schedule repeats again. Our personnel are divided into three sections, so there is always one section off.

Our 8-hour shifts run 0700-1500 hours, 1500-2300 hours, & 2300-0700 hours. Our 10-hour shifts run 0600-1600 hours, 1400-2400 hours, & 2200-0800 hours. This provided additional personnel during the 2-hour buffer at shift changes which are always hectic. This schedule also maintains a 40-hour workweek.

Our agency, a regional 911 , has been on permanent shifts for six years now. When we started everyone except three were set and those three rotated to cover days off. We works 8-hours shifts being 8a to 4p, 4p to 12a, and 12a to 8a. Our midnight shift is considered 1st shift, day is 2nd and evening is 3rd. Our schedule basically works on a 3-week rotation. Example:

Disp    S   M   T   W   T   F   S   S   M   T   W   T   F   S   S   M   T   W   T   F   S
1       X   X   1   1   1   1   1   1   1   X   X   1   1   1   1   1   1   1   1   1   1
2       1   1   X   X   1   1   1   1   1   1   1   1   X   X   X   X   1   1   1   1   1
3       1   1   1   1   1   X   X   X   X   1   1   1   1   1   1   1   X   X   1   1   1

X = day off
1 =  1st shift

It was designed for two people working a shift. Since it was originally made out we have since added a third and fourth person on each shift meaning we have five assigned to a given shift. In doing so one gets two days off in the middle of the week every week, either Tu Wed or Wed Thu and one gets weekends off.

All three shifts have the same basic schedule of seven days on, two off then eight days on, four off giving them long weekends every three weeks with the exception of the ones with set days off. Usually assigned by seniority meaning senior dispatchers picked their shift and get their choice of the rotating days off with long weekends or set days off.

New dispatchers are trained for 6 months rotating from shift to shift then assigned to whatever shift needs them at the end of training. We have recently found the draw back to this however. We have lost several dispatchers over recent years due to low pay and now are over 50% with less than three years experience and 35% less than a year. The problem then being no one wants to work evening shift and we end up with a lot of inexperienced dispatchers on one of the busiest shifts.

This has become a huge problem since we do not get shift differential and we do not have supervisors per say. The senior dispatcher has always been relied on officially. Now we have several days a week when the senior dispatcher is a two year "veteran". So please, when you consider permanent shifts find a way to spread the wealth of experience in your department. We are paying for the mistake now.

Physically we are all thankful for permanent shifts but now the senior dispatchers, myself included who have worked days for 5 years or more are going to be switched around. Not pleased but will do what's necessary to keep from going back to a swing shift schedule. I will be switching from days to evenings for a while in an attempt to help out our young guys. Hopefully it won't be forever. And no...I will not get extra pay for it. At least not yet... Our administrative board is considering having paid supervisors...if this happens maybe I will consider it...maybe not!

The union steward came up with a schedule for 1997 that had a mixed 10 hour and 8 hour lines. It covered the busy times, and brought mandatory overtime down to historic levels. Most people were pretty happy. This schedule was tossed out, and the management went on a retreat in the woods of Wisconsin. They came back with the same schedule that nearly killed the staff in 1996, with a few changes. They made it less fair. They created 3 lines on each shift that gave very senior people practically ever weekend off, and thus created even more single days off for everyone. Most lines have 6 or more single days off during the year. The overtime is skyrocketing, the sicktime and absenteeism is going through the roof.

The reason management gave for the change is that with the mixed 10 hour 8 hour lines it was "to hard to keep track of all the coming and going." I guess their thinking if you can characterize it as thinking, is better to cripple the staff you have, than make the supervisors think. I had seen enough and took a 10K pay cut to escape that madhouse. I miss the work, my former coworkers say they miss me. Oh well, I certainly don't miss the dunderheads that run that place. 6 others followed me out the door, so management hates me. I'm honored.

Here in Xxxxxxxxxx we work set shifts. It is based upon seniority. New hires are assigned where needed. Days off rotate, which ends up giving each person at least two weeks off per month. Employees are given the opportunity to request shift change based upon openings and their seniority. It seems to work well, but I miss working nights as I have been on days for about 5 years.

We currently work a five-eight plan, and a lot of people don't like it. One can work for many years before getting a Saturday or Sunday off except by taking vacation. Our shifts run 0700-1500, 1500-2300, and 2300-0700, plus three smaller "cross shifts" from 1100-1900, 1900-0300, and 0300-1100. The main shifts are each allocated about one-third of personnel, and days off are distributed pretty much evenly, without much account being given to days which are normally busier. Since we are understaffed, operating at about 72-73% of maximum allowable staffing (this is in theory, and doesn't take into account vacations or sick days), it probably doesn't make much difference in the long haul. Minimum staffing requirements are the same from day to day, anyway.

Because people have a hard time getting weekend days off, we will probably try, in our plan, to staff up on the weekends. This will allow for more people to take discretionary time, and would, we hope, reduce the sick days taken on weekends.

We work 5/8 here in Xxxxxxxxxxx but we work a three-week rotation that ensures that every three weeks we get a weekend off. The rotations are also such that everyone is scheduled for Friday, so if you ask far enough in advance you can usually get the Friday before your weekend, off, too, using a vacation day. Three-day weekends go a long way toward avoiding burnout!

On Mon-Wed
Off Thurs
On Fri-Mon
Off Tue & Wed
On Thur-Sun
Off Mon
On Tue-Fri
Off Sat & Sun

Then it starts over. There has been talk here, too, about a 10-hour shift, but our supervisors have never been able to get the schedule to come out right with that. We always ended up understaffed during some times and with more people than chairs at others, due to the basic fact that a 24 hour day isn't divisible by 10. Going with anything other than a 10-hour day would probably cause HR to go into convulsions, so we stick with this, but I think it works pretty well.

Where I work now, its a 7/4 - 7/3 that translates to the 4 days off are always Friday through Monday, and the three days off are always Tuesday through Thursday. The two days, Sunday and Monday that precede the three days off are 10 hour days, and the Friday and Saturday that follow the 3 days stretch are 10 hour days, so this always works out as 40 hours a week. Anything over 40 hours a week is OT. Those four day weekends go along way to preventing burnout.

Mind you I came from a large urban snake pit where they had single days off throughout the year. I have been at the new place for 6 months, and I'm so relaxed after those 4 day weekends, I often find myself whistling on my way back to work, looking forward to seeing everybody. I NEVER whistled on my way to work in Xxxxxxxxx, Trust me.

Everyone's schedules sound so confusing. Ours are really simple. We have 37 operators total. We need between 7 and 8 a shift. We work 5 eight hour days. Every three months we pick shifts by seniority, period. The person that has been there the longest gets whatever shift and days off they want. Our shifts are 0600-1400, 1400-2200, and 2200-0600. When we were hired we were told we would have to work bad shifts with bad days off. It was understood. I think that it effectively cuts down the complaining about weekends off. Personally, I like to have weekdays off because you can get so much more done without half the world getting their stuff done with you.

Just to add my 2 cents worth--Here at Xxxxxxxxx PD we use the same system and it appears to work well for us, at least IMHO as a call-taker hired in February 1997. We have about 60 positions between call-takers and dispatchers and minimum staffing is between 8 and 10 per shift. Shifts are 0700-1500, 1500-2300, 2300-0700, five days a week. Shifts and days off are distributed by strict seniority. We have shift change (a new opportunity to bid) every 4 months--but, indeed, if no one junior to you has been hired since the last shift change there is a good possibility that you won't be able to move to a more desirable shift or better days off. However, as in the other agency's case, everybody understands the system from the outset and there are no complaints about fairness. In my particular case, I trained on the afternoon shift because that was my trainer's shift but was moved to midnight's when I was released. I knew that was inevitable. My days off are Monday and Tuesday (effectively from Sunday at 0700 to Tuesday at 2300). However, if I need a weekend day off occasionally I can usually get someone to work a double shift to cover for me and I return the favor on an agreed date.

Just as a matter of information, we are a city of 100,000 which swells to 200,000 during the winter tourist season. Our PSAP answers for police, fire and rescue. We have E911 and will this year get a new state-of-the-art CAD system.

Schedules at our comm center are permanent; there are no "rotating" slots. Now, to be more accurate, "semi-permanent" may be a better term, as some adjustments may be made for changes in number of available staff (normally through transfers to other centers).

Communications Operators sign up, by seniority, for the available shift & days off posted each quarter. They do NOT have to choose the same shift and days off for the entire quarter, but can select a different shift and days off for each month in the quarter.

These "slots" are posted by the scheduling supervisor; our current staffing is 17 dispatchers. We have operated with as few as 11 fully trained dispatchers, but that requires a ton of overtime to full in all the "holes" to provide adequate staffing.

Our basic shifts are: 0600-1400, 1400-2200, and 2200-0600. When we are staffed at our current level or greater (17 dispatchers is actually three bodies short of total allotted staff), we also institute an 1800-0200 shift and a 1000-1800 shift to overlap the basic shifts.

ABSOLUTE minimum staffing requirements is two on days, 4 on afternoons, and two on the graveyard shift. We will pay overtime to put a third person in the Center from 1000-1400 and also to have a third person working from 2200-0200. (Hence the creation of an overlap shift when we're at the staffing level we're at now. This is how it works now:

5 dispatchers assigned to 0600-1400,
Choice of days off are:
Fri/Sat, Sun/Mon, Mon/Tues, Tues/Weds, and Weds/Thurs.

6 dispatchers assigned to 1400-2200,
Choice of days off are:
Fri/Sat, Sun/Mon, Mon/Tues, Tues/Weds, and Weds/Thurs, Thurs/Fri.

4 dispatchers assigned to 2200-0600,
Choice of days off are:
Fri/Sat, Sun/Mon, Mon/Tues, and Weds/Thurs.

The days off for the single 1000-1800 shift are Weds/Thurs.

Days off for the single 1800-0200 shift are Tues/Weds.

Basically, the most senior dispatcher look at the shifts, sees what days off are available on each, and decides which shift with which available days off are his/her choice. Then the next senior person makes his/her choice, and so on. Obviously, the choices become less varied (and probably less desirable) as each person makes his or her choice.

There IS a lot of movement; since they don't have to stay on the same shift/days off for the entire quarter, and they sign up each quarter, some folks move around the schedule to accommodate summer months, school activities, and basically, just to get away from certain co-workers for a while......<grin>

The graveyard shift has traditionally been the senior shift here, oddly enough, followed by day watch. Most of the junior folks end up on swings, over and over and over again.

The nice thing about the "overlap" shifts is that even if someone calls in sick on day watch and takes it down to two people, that third person will be coming in at 1000, halfway through the day watch shift. We CAN operate with only two on days, but not from 1000 on....

By the way, we have two radio positions in operation at all times. Which means that when there ARE only two working, those two folks are also the only call-takers, as well. That's why we want the third person there....

Generally, from 0200 to 0600, we can drop to two dispatchers again. We WILL authorize overtime on an "hour by hour basis" past 0200 on Thursday, Friday or Saturday nights.

And, you may have noticed, there are NO Sat/Sun days off available on ANY shift.

We are authorized a total of 20 Communications Operators and have NEVER managed to reach that number of fully trained people to fill those slots. However, these last 3 positions have been recently granted to us, and we are in the process of filling them from interviews we completed yesterday. If the folks we want to hire pass their medical exams, drug screen, audiology test and background investigation, we will be able to create another shift on each of the day, afternoon and graveyard shifts. That will allow us to create a shift with Sat/Sun off for the day and afternoon shift, to be opened to seniority bid each quarter.

NOT ALL CENTERS operate this way... we're a fairly small one. There are a couple of the 24 total centers that are on a "rotation" basis, rather than by seniority shift sign-up, and others have enough staff to allow a different pattern of regular days off, to include a few Sat/Sun slots. But we all sign up quarterly. :)

I don't think ANY of our Centers have rotating shifts, in the sense that someone works a combination of days, afternoons and/or mids within the month. Schedules are made up for each month, and the SHIFTS are permanent; dispatchers rotate through them by seniority or by an established rotation (at those few centers that don't use 'seniority' signup). Nobody is assigned to work some days, some swings, or some midnight shifts within the month. (Unless, of course, they work overtime either voluntarily or by mandate, if no volunteers can be obtained to provide the coverage.) The shifts are straight days, swings, mids or "overlap."

If someone transfers out or (gawd forbid) resigns, we eliminate shift slots as we "lose" dispatchers to fill them. The first to go would be the 1000-1800 shift, then the 1800-0200 shift, then the 0600-1400 Weds/Thurs off shift, then the 1400-2200 Thurs/Fri off shift. Let's not discuss how screwed up the schedule gets when there are less than 13 fully-trained communications operators; suffice to say, overtime coverage becomes the rule rather than the exception.

Regarding new hires: they get assigned to trainers and don't have the luxury of signing up for their first 6 months. We put 'em where they need to be, for their training. Which means they will work all three shifts during that time, but they will have the same shift and days off as their trainer for each month. Ideally, they should work two months on each shift....and we all know how ideal the real world is, don't we?

We work a 10/4 plan (10 hours a day, 4 days a week). Shifts are 0700-1700, 1700-0300, and 2100-0700. The slots are staggered for coverage and a few (on each shift) have either weekends off, or at least half of a weekend off. We sign up for shifts, by seniority, at the end of the year for the coming new year. We rotate every quarter. With the rule being you can stay on one shift for 2 consecutive quarters, than you must go to another for at least one quarter. Thus a senior dispatcher can opt for day watch with Fri/Sat/Sun off for 6 months, than must go to say Swings with Sun/Mon/Tue off for 3 months, than back to the day side. Gives junior people at least a quarter shot at the Day gig with weekends off. May not be the best but seems to work with my agency.

Our center is currently in a staffing quandary, not enough as usual. We have 11 dispatchers and need to cover 3 shifts. We are considering a 10 hour schedule but can't come up with one. Mind locked in 8 hour mode since that is all we have every used I guess! If any of you have a schedule you would like to share, we would appreciate it. We work permanent shifts now with a 7on, 2off, 8 on 4 off rotation for days off.

I've got a 4/2 days off schedule for a staff of 12 that works. Minimum staffing would be 3/3/2. 10 hours shifts with 1 hour overlapping each watch.

We got admin to go to a 10/4 schedule as a trail. Due to staffing, 2 days from 0300-0700 had to be covered with overtime. Admin didn't like the built in overtime but agreed to give it a try. BTW, that was 8 years ago, and we are still covering the 0300-0700 with O/T. Dispatch likes the 10/4 and we ain't about to go back to the 8/5. Admin hasn't said a word about the built in O/T since. After all, paying 8 hours extra a week is a darn sight cheaper than hiring another person (which is another issue we've been working on for the last 8 years).

My agency (the entire force, including specialists) all work a ten-hour shift. We have a four/3 schedule, (4 days on, 3 days off). The three days off are always the same days off. Our center only has a full time staff of six, and a contingent of four part-timers who are only allowed to work a maximun of twenty hours a week, usually three days on at five hours a day. Our work hours are:

shift 1:    2200-0800 hrs
shift 2:    0700-1700 hrs, and
shift 3:    1600-0200 hrs.

My shift, shift 1 (midnights) has an overlap full time partner from 2200-0200 hrs, and then again for one hour in the morning from 0700-0800 hrs. Day shift (shift 2) has an overlap from 0700-0800 hrs, and then again from 1600-1700 hrs Evening shift has an overlap from 1600-1700 hrs, and then again from 2200-0200 hrs.

The ideal formula for persons on duty per shift is 1.5 persons per each position. This will allow you to have at least two persons scheduled to be on duty, with one scheduled to be off. The minimum manning should be a staff of ten full timers, this allows for all three shifts to always have two operators on, and one scheduled off. The tenth person is what you can call a floater, who would fill in the slots that are created by scheduled days off, i.e. comp time, vacation, personal days, etc. But we all know that dispatch is always the bastard of the industry (my chief said that), and when it comes to minimum manning, well, the dispatch is somehow left out of the equation.

We only have 6 positions. We work 3-12

#1 Mon-Wed 0600-1800
#2 Mon-Wed 1800-0600
#3 Fri-Sun 0600-1800
#4 Fri-Sun 1400-0200
#5 Fri-Sun 1800-0600
#6 Relief...covers vacation, time off etc and/or works Mon-Wed 1400-0200

Pay back every other Thursday 8 hours....0600-1400, 1400-0200, 2200-0600