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Compressed hours

Compressed hours allow staff to work their contractual hours over longer days which enables them to work a shorter week or fortnight.

An example of compressed hours would be working 37.5 hours over four days instead of five, or working 30 hours over three days instead of four.

There are no changes to pay and benefits as the member of staff continues to work their contracted hours, just over an alternative working pattern.


Compressed hours:

  • enable staff to reduce their working days without hours being lost from the team
  • can allow a service to extend their opening hours
  • improves the work life balance of staff
  • means staff can balance personal demands with work through an additional day off without losing hours or pay

Points to consider

  • Compressed hours will increase the length of the working day. Will this impact the member of staff’s wellbeing?
  • Can the needs and standards of the service be met and delivered? What work would be completed outside of normal hours?
  • If more than one member of staff works compressed hours or works part time, how will days off be agreed to ensure that there is no gap in delivery? Will the day off be set or can this be flexible?

Work hours and patterns

Working hours and patterns should be agreed by the staff member and manager, depending on service needs and wellbeing.

Please see the following examples on how hours can be worked to meet the individual circumstances and needs of the service.

Example of a compressed 37.5 hour week

Instead of working 09:00 – 17:00 from Monday to Friday, staff could work:

  • 08:00 – 18:00 for three days a week, and
  • 08:00 – 17:30 for one day a week

Example of a nine day fortnight

Staff can compresses their hours to have a day off every other week by working as follows:

  • First week (five days):
    • Monday – Thursday: 08:30 – 17:30
    • Friday: 09:00 – 17:00
  • Second week (four days):
    • Monday – Wednesday: 08:30 – 17:30
    • Thursday 08:30 – 17:00
    • Friday: off
  • Total: 75 hours worked over two weeks (37.5 hours p/w)

Example of a compressed 22.5 hour week

Instead of working 09:00 – 17:00 from Monday to Wednesday, staff would work:

  • 08:00 – 17:30 for two days a week, and
  • 08:00 – 12:00 on the final day

Important note: staff working different hours on different days will need to be factored in when booking annual leave requests. For example, a member of staff working 37.5 hours over four days would take 9.5 hours off if they wanted just one of their longer days off for that week.


Pay and benefits are not affected on the basis that the original contracted hours remain the same, they are just worked over less days.

Before agreeing a request

  • Existing workloads and tasks should be reviewed to consider the new hours. If a specific day off is requested, will this impact service delivery or the team and is appropriate cover in place?
  • Staffing skills and roles should be reviewed so that service delivery or health and safety of staff and/or patients is not compromised
  • Is the staff member flexible on which day they take off during the week or is a set day required?
  • Ensure any requests comply with working time regulations
  • Discuss and agree the need for occasional flex on the day off to cover service demand and annual leave requirements
  • Ensure health and safety is not compromised (e.g. what is the travelling time of the individual?)
  • How will hours be worked and what breaks will be built in to enable regular rest throughout the day?

After agreeing a request

  • Wellbeing and workloads should be regularly monitored and reviewed with objectives and targets adjusted
  • Regular communication and checking in should take place
  • Team meetings should be reviewed and held on days when everyone is available. If there is not an option for everyone to attend team meetings, consider rotating the meeting days or times so different team members can be present. There should also be process to follow up with staff members who are unable to attend to ensure information is shared and discussed (i.e. via email, one-to-one meeting or an online space for sharing)
  • Wellbeing support services should be shared with staff regularly and staff encouraged to make use of them in the same way as full-time colleagues
  • The working pattern should be reviewed at least every 12 months to ensure it is beneficial for the needs of the service and the member of staff

Practical tips

Updating hours on the roster may be different depending on which system you use (i.e. Allocate or Healthroster).

For further support with the technical aspects of rosters please contact the e-rostering team.

Top tips

Compressed hours are a flexible working pattern that could be supported across a team to enable better agility to meet service demands and extend operating hours.

Staggered working can be considered and involves the employee working different start and finish times to their colleagues to accommodate individual circumstances.

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