written by: Vikas Vij•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 12/3/2010
Facing the challenge to determine the right shift differentials for 24 hour call centers? Evaluate your options carefully to decide which approach suits your organizational needs best.
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Call Center Shift Differentials for 24/7 Call Centers
A shift differential refers to a premium pay rate for an odd hour work shift. It ensures that all employees are fairly compensated for the kind of work they perform and under what circumstances they perform it. Shift differentials for 24 hour call centers are a common phenomenon because these organizations work around the clock. So the employees who are required to work the night shift are clearly working under more challenging circumstances by compromising on their natural sleep time as well as their normal social life to an extent.
Position of Shift Differentials as Per Law
The law does not require 24/7 call centers or any other business organization that operates in odd hour shifts to compensate their employees differently from those who work in regular day shifts. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in the United States does not have any provision that may require an employer to pay shift differentials to his employees who work in odd hour work shifts. The law is clear that settlement of wages is a matter of mutual agreement between the employer and the employee, as long as the minimum wage conditions are fulfilled. The U.S. Department of Labor clearly states: "Shift bonus or shift differential is not required by the FLSA. Whether a shift differential is paid only for certain work hours or workdays is a matter for consideration by the parties." Therefore, it is entirely up to the discretion of the management how they wish to compensate their employees working in shifts at 24/7 Call Centers.
Pay Rate Differentials are a Function of Demand-Supply
In pure economic terms, the employers will be compelled to opt for shift differentials if there is not enough availability of qualified candidates for the night shifts. Therefore, the free market forces of demand and supply will automatically determine the pay rate for night shifts differently from day shifts. Employers need to offer extra incentives in order to attract and retain the employees for night shifts. At the same time, it is more challenging to maintain the motivation levels when employees have to work in difficult circumstances. Therefore, the business organization is forced to opt for shift differentials in order to optimize its 24/7 productivity.
Alternative to Shift Differentials for Call Centers
There is an alternative available to shift differentials for 24 hours call centers, which may be used by some organizations. If the business operations allow, the call center may opt for rotational shifts for all employees. This ensures that every employee has to share the burden of night shifts for a few days in the month. This ensures a more equitable work environment for all employees. It also enhances the longevity of a call center employee who may otherwise burn-out if he works exclusively in night shifts only for a long period of time. However, a downside of this approach is that it does differentiate between employees who prefer to earn extra by working in night shifts, and those who are totally against the idea of working in night shifts even with extra pay. Therefore, the organization must make its choice carefully regarding the best approach to run a 24/7 call center at optimal efficiency.