The short answer to this question is yes – people who work night shifts are paid more. According to the United States Office of Personnel Management, employees who have shifts that cover 3 PM to 12 midnight should have a 7.5% night differential while 11 PM to 8 AM shifts is entitled to have a 10% night differential.
Through the years, more and more businesses and professions have evolved to satisfy ever-fluid consumer needs. But among the many pivotal changes society made to meet consumer needs, the implementation of night shifts is shrouded in notoriety.
One of the most frequent inquiries professionals have about the night shift revolves around its financial disparities in contrast with regular day shifts. However, as potential employees considering or vying for a position working the night shift, you have to understand that there’s more to this unique work setup than just more money.
What is the Night Shift?
The night shift has many names. Some companies call it the third shift, the graveyard shift, the midnight shift, the evening shift, and the closing shift.
As more and more companies implement night shifts for their operations, the definition has become more technical and exact. Before consumer needs became more demanding, companies that operate night shifts used the term loosely. Some companies define the night shift as simply operating until late at night.
Nowadays, the night shift has become part of a multi-shift system, with companies even having several shift options at night. Most companies, then, have categorized the night shift as a set range of hours outside their regular day operations. Establishments often offer incentives to employees to entice them into working night shifts or times that many consider being inconvenient hours.
Better Pay and Other Benefits
Despite the notoriety night shifts have gained through the years, the night shift boasts a lot of benefits for professionals looking for a change of pace. At the top of this list would be, unsurprisingly, the financial perks that employees receive. In many states and nations around the world, working night shifts means benefitting from a night differential. The night differential is an incentive given to individuals braving offices during the graveyard shifts.
Below is a table displayed in the OPM website exhibiting the night differentials between shifts:
However, the list of benefits that the night shift can provide does not end there. The night shift offers perks that can help employees with their career and personal growth.
What are Night Differentials?
One of the main ways that companies pay employees in the night shift more is through their night differential policies. Night differentials were conceptualized as a way to reward and persuade professionals to work late nights.
Simply put, the night differential is an increase in pay to thank employees for working graveyard shifts. These night differentials are often fixed increases in pay per hour or additional money that is a percentage of an employee’s base pay.
In alternative cases, employees who work the third shift are paid more through “night pay.” These are often implemented in systems where night employees do not have a different base pay that doesn’t increase during the night hours.
However, it is important to note that in the United States, the night differential is not a mandated benefit for employees as the US Department of Labor states that “Extra pay for working weekends or nights is a matter of agreement between the employer and the employee (or the employee’s representative). The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require extra pay for weekend or night work.”
Fortunately, regulations regarding night differentials may vary from country to country. So if you plan to work the night shift in a different country, you may want to check your country’s guidelines and policies regarding night differentials.
Generally speaking, most companies pay their employees a premium for working night shifts. These increases, while seemingly unsubstantial, build up to be difference makers in the long run.
The Working Environment: Fewer Distractions and Strong Camaraderie
If you’re afraid of working late nights alone, you have nothing to fear. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “nearly 15 million Americans work a permanent night shift or regularly rotate in and out of night shifts.”
Experts attribute this rapid increase in night shift employees to the 24/7 nature of society and consumer behavior. This also means that more and more professionals meet during the night shift. According to many night shift employees, the working environment during graveyard hours creates a unique camaraderie bonded by commitment. The atmosphere in these environments cultivates deep and enduring friendships.
The environment also benefits from fewer distractions, allowing employees to focus on the jobs at hand. The night shift, compared to the day shift, provides a quieter workplace. The nocturnal workspace receives fewer phone calls, visitors, and disruptions overall. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s slower or there are fewer things to do, but employees certainly benefit from a more peaceful setting. Such circumstances lead to increased productivity, teamwork, and efficiency.
Experienced night shift workers also attest to the many career opportunities that open up for nocturnal employees. In many cases, the day shift is filled with employees with ample experience and seniority. This may make it hard for some professionals to work their way up the career ladder. In contrast, the night shift has less competition, opening doors for possible career advancement.
Night shifts are generally less crowded, so standing out is easier for employees with high aspirations. In some cases, colleagues may even view brave volunteers who move to the night shift as subject matter experts or seniors. At the very least, taking up the night shift will surely give off the impression that you are a team player.
Aside from the more evident economic perks of having higher pay, working during the night shifts also provides other financial benefits. Being in the house during the day can have massive financial implications ranging from less traffic, shorter lines at the grocery store, and practical childcare practices.
Theoretically, with yourself on the night shift and a life partner working normal hours, availability for childcare and parenting instantly becomes more practical. Another prime example would be the perks of facing better traffic situations. Better traffic means less money needed for gas money. Such instances immediately improve a family’s economic position.
Time During the Day
In conjunction with financial opportunities, night shift employees also enjoy the availability during the day. This availability entails chances for navigating responsibilities and even hobbies you may have during the day.
For parents, availability during the day is a massive advantage, as kids need them during these times. The night shift will help parents focus on taking care of their kids attentively. Additionally, if parents work opposite shifts, their children are beneficiaries of quality family time around the clock.
If you don’t have kids, you can use your time during the day for errands you need to run, like a trip to the bank, visiting the dentist, or any other essential task or errand. The night shift will also give you time to pursue your passion. You can start going to school again or develop a hobby you can enjoy.
Many facilities and essential establishments are open during the day. Working the night shifts allows you to visit the doctor or take a trip to government offices in case of pending responsibilities.
Overall, you can enjoy personal or family time during the day, as more institutions and establishments are accessible when you work the night shift.
Why are Night Shift Employees Paid More?
Despite the many benefits employees get through working the night shift, working the nocturnal hours is far from a walk in the park. Industries that operate the night shift are usually essential services such as healthcare providers, retail, security, media, and emergency services.
Due to the nature of work and the times their work hours occupy, not too many job hunters wish to work the graveyard shifts. This is why companies implement night differential policies, incentivizing willing employees.
The general preconception people have around night shifts isn’t exactly ideal as well. Working during the night shift takes some preparation and adjustments. People who work graveyard shifts also face risks with which employees in the day shifts might not be familiar.
In a discussion with the American Psychological Association, Charmane Eastman, PhD, a physiological psychologist at Rush University in Chicago, shared that a night shift worker may suffer from major problems because of poor scheduling and unhealthy approaches to the need for sleep.
A study in the National Library of Medicine published by a team of experts cited that “studies indicate that there may be adverse health effects of chronic night work across diverse populations.”
In this same study, the experts stated that they believe that such health concerns result from the misalignment of the human body’s processes and the work schedule. Fortunately, there are ways to condition and prepare the body for the rigors of night shifts. However, getting accustomed to these preparations and conditioning is a tall task and may not be suited for every person.
In fact, the New England Journal of Medicine “found that medical interns whose shifts lasted longer than 24 hours were more than twice as likely to have a car crash and five times as likely to have a driving near-miss after leaving work as interns who worked shorter shifts.”
Due to these factors, people often avoid the night shift. With the basic principle of supply and demand, the rarity of people willing to work late nights pushes companies to raise the pay for night workers.
Jobs and Industries with Night Shifts
As the needs of the world expanded and changed through the years, more and more industries started implementing night shifts. If you’re on the prowl for a career in an industry with functioning night shifts, there are a number of fields to consider.
Nurses and doctors are notorious for working long hours that span several shifts. Hospitals may have limited visiting hours, but medical health workers work around the clock. Healthcare professionals that work during the night play an important role in ensuring that patients stay healthy.
Especially with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare professionals have become a pivotal part of nursing the world back to health. They have worked extended hours day and night to help those in need. This industry will always have busy night shifts that will help and change people’s lives.
Businesses and operations evolved to maximize productivity and efficiency. The night shifts in the manufacturing industry are no exception. To keep up with the growing needs of human society, the manufacturing industry expanded into the night shift to increase their overall output and satisfy the ever-growing consumer demand.
Available night shift jobs in the manufacturing industry cover the entry-level positions up to the supervisory and leadership levels. Professionals working night shifts in the manufacturing industry not only increase overall productivity but better maintenance of resources and machines as well, ensuring a safe and healthy working ecosystem.
When things go bump at night, emergency services always have eyes and ears that are ready to help. From crimes to accidents and from calamities and medical incidences, professionals who provide emergency services have employees prepared to work the night shifts.
These professionals come from a variety of industries, such as the police, the fire department, medical professionals, and many others. These professionals help take care of those in need and are ready to leap into action thanks to their training.
News and Media
As you’ve heard or seen on TV, on the radio, in the papers, and even on the internet, journalism and media do not sleep. In case anything relevant happens late in the night or while everyone is asleep, the press’ duty is to keep an eye out for a country’s people.
Through the pouring rain or the dark of the night, the media personnel is responsible for keeping their people informed through TV reports, radio broadcasts, and social media updates. Even as the nation sleeps, a journalist braves the night to gather information to share with the people through reliable media outlets.
Travel and Hospitality
Despite being heavily affected by the pandemic, the travel and hospitality industry has gotten back on its feet. Ensuring proper care and quality service to adventurous people, professionals in this field work 24/7. By providing food, maintenance, and other services, the travel and hospitality industry welcome travelers with appropriate services even when it’s late at night.
Working the night shift is no small task. There will be lots of preparation and conditioning needed to ensure that nocturnal workers stay healthy. However, all these risks also have rewards. Companies provide their night shift workers with financial, personal, and career incentives to encourage them to work hard and reward their perseverance.
As globalization develops further, more and more industries and services will expand into the night shift as companies start to serve consumers from across the globe.