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What is a 9/80 work schedule?

Written by: Elizabeth Walker
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Published on October 26, 2022.

Most people are familiar with the traditional nine-to-five, 40-hour workweek schedule. However, more modern, flexible work schedules are quickly becoming popular.

A common type of flex schedule is the 9/80 work schedule. This format has been shown to increase work-life balance, which can improve overall employee productivity, engagement, and satisfaction. But how can you know if it’s the right choice for your company?

This blog will go over the 9/80 work schedule, its pros and cons, and how you can determine if it’s a good option for your business and employees.

Want to learn more about fringe benefits? Check out our complete guide

What is a flexible work schedule?

Before we dive into a 9/80 work schedule, let’s go over what a flexible work schedule means. A flexible work schedule, or flex schedule, allows employees to arrange their work hours in a way that best fits their personal lives. Employees can vary the times they begin and end their workday, optimizing their work-life balance.

For example, an employee may choose to work from 6 a.m. - 2 p.m. or work four days a week, but work longer hours during those days.

While a flex schedule isn’t synonymous with working remotely, remote work can be considered a type of flex schedule. You can dictate in your flex schedule policy that employees can work fully remote, or use a hybrid working method, which mixes remote work with in-office work.

What is a 9/80 work schedule?

A 9/80 work schedule is a way of compressing the standard five-day workweek. With a 9/80 schedule, employees work 80 hours over nine days instead of the usual 80 hours over ten days.

In total, an employee works eight nine-hour days, one eight-hour day, and has one day off over the two workweeks. After the day off, the schedule repeats for the next two-week period.

The below chart shows the most common way to structure a 9/80 work schedule:

 

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Total hours worked

Week 1

9 hours

9 hours

9 hours

9 hours

8 hours

44 hours

Week 2

9 hours

9 hours

9 hours

9 hours

Day off

36 hours

While this is a typical breakdown of the 9/80 schedule, you don’t have to follow this exactly. For example, you could let your employees choose their day off (i.e., if they preferred Wednesday off instead of Friday).

However the hours are arranged, as long as four days during the week involve nine hours of work each day, equaling 80 hours over two weeks, you still have a 9/80 work schedule.

What are the pros of a 9/80 work schedule?

1. Greater work-life balance for your employees

With a standard 9/80 work schedule, your employees have every other Friday off, equaling 26 three-day weekends a year. With this extra time off, employees can spend more time doing what they love, including rejuvenating their minds, taking vacations, and spending time with family and friends.

Time away from the office helps reduce burnout as well. The APA’s Work and Wellbeing Survey2 found that three in five employees surveyed experienced work-related stress. A more balanced work schedule can keep employees engaged while working, and provide more time off to rest and recover.

2. Increased employee productivity

Using a 9/80 schedule can also positively affect employee productivity. With more control over their work schedule, employees can arrange their days more efficiently and work more productively due to the extra day off at the end of their two weeks.

The increase in efficiency and energy has a long-term impact as well. 26% of employees1 said that motivation and energy contributed to their work-related stress. The 9/80 schedule allows employees to choose how to spend their time, so they don’t become overwhelmed during the day.

3. Higher employee recruitment and retention

Standard work schedules aren’t cutting it anymore when it comes to attracting and retaining talented employees. Our 2022 Employee Benefits Survey found that 79% of employees considered flexible scheduling an extremely important benefit to have, especially among the younger generations. But yet, only 52% of small to midsize business owners surveyed offer it.

In order to entice qualified job candidates, offering an alternative schedule, like the 9/80 schedule, and other flexible employee benefits is a valuable tool to make your company more attractive. New hires want to be offered a variety of fringe benefits before accepting the job, so they know your company provides the best work-life balance and perks possible.

4. Greater flexibility and trust

The 9/80 schedule offers a balance between maintaining a fixed schedule for employers while allowing employees greater flexibility to get tasks done away from the office.

Companies with a compressed work schedule encourage their employees to take care of personal commitments they wouldn’t normally be able to do with a traditional 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. workday at an office, such as going to a doctor’s appointment or picking a child up from school.

By letting your employees choose how to structure their schedule, you’re giving them ownership over their job and showing them you trust their ability to manage their time effectively.

5. Reduced commuting times

With a flexible schedule, your employees may spend less time on the road commuting to work. Because of the longer workday, their commute time may shift out of peak travel hours by coming in earlier or staying later, meaning less stress and fewer hours wasted in traffic.

And with the extra day off, your employees won’t need to travel to and from work at all on that day. Not only is reducing commute time a perk for the environment, employees spend less time in their car and spend less money paying for gas or other transportation, which improves morale.

What are the cons of a 9/80 work schedule?

1. Longer workdays

Some employees may appreciate the 9/80 work schedule, but not everyone may be happy about it. While some employees may not notice the extra hour passing by, others may feel like they don’t have enough downtime in their evenings to balance out the number of hours they spend at work during the day.

A nine-hour day may not seem like much to most people, but it can be tough for some of your staff, resulting in burnout, lower morale, and job frustration. So before you implement this schedule at your company, you may want to survey your employees to get their thoughts.

2. Potential scheduling problems

Companies that require consistent staff, such as the hospitality and retail industries, may have trouble with the 9/80 work schedule. These organizations need a certain amount of staff in place every day to meet their ongoing business and customer needs.

Even if you map out which employees get which day off every two weeks, it could lead to availability issues and employee conflict over who gets a weekday off and who gets a long weekend.

Small employers face similar problems. Depending on the size of your company, a 9/80 schedule could mean there aren’t enough workers to keep your business running smoothly, especially during the extra days off each month.

3. Payroll and overtime

Payroll and overtime can become especially complicated under the 9/80 system. Since a 9/80 work schedule consists of 44 hours in the first week and 36 hours in the second, you need to be careful with your calculations, so you're not paying extra payroll.

For example, non-exempt employees usually get overtime wages if they work over 40 hours a week. With a 9/80 schedule, employers may end up paying four hours of overtime during the 44-hour week to non-exempt employees on a biweekly basis.

The best way to avoid overtime obligations is by running your payroll on a two-week schedule. Your employees would work four nine-hour days followed by one eight-hour day. But you’d apply the first half of the eight-hour workday to the first week of payroll and the second half of the eight-hour day to the second week of payroll.

Ultimately, instead of payroll running from Monday through Sunday like a standard schedule, employees get a 40-hour workweek by splitting the 8-hour Friday across two separate weeks.

This way, you’re not paying overtime, and your employees can take their second Friday off without losing hours. However, you’ll need to develop a custom system if you allow your employees to choose which day will be their day off.

Lastly, some states, like California, consider overtime as any hours worked over eight hours a day. So before you offer a 9/80 work schedule, consult your state and local employment laws, tax advisor, and HR team, so your company stays compliant.

4. Paid time off (PTO)

Similar to payroll and overtime, the 9/80 schedule requires a different approach to paid time off (PTO), sick leave, and vacation time. For proper tracking and pay, reorganizing your PTO policy is needed, which may be more hassle than you want.

For example, if an employee takes a sick day or vacation day on a nine-hour workday, they lose more work than taking one day off on an eight-hour day. The same situation occurs if a national holiday, like the Fourth of July, falls in the middle of the week.

You can resolve this problem in one of two ways. You can count each nine-hour workday as eight hours of work and one hour of PTO if someone requests time off. Or you could restructure your PTO policy so that one day of PTO equals nine hours instead of the typical eight hours.

Additionally, just like overtime and payroll, you may have specific policies regarding public holidays, sick time, and how they’re paid out depending on where you live. So you must factor that into your reorganization as well.

5. Unavailable customers and business partners

If you and your employees favor the 9/80 schedule, that’s great! However, your customers and business partners may not be so thrilled. Depending on your industry and business hours, your company may have customers and other business associates that aren’t working or utilizing your services during the extra hours in your new 9/80 schedule.

Similarly, if you decide to implement a fixed day off for your company every two weeks, your customers and partners may not find your reduced staff or company closure to be desirable.

In either case, this could result in lower productivity for your employees that are working when your partners are not, lower overall business efficiency, and even a loss of revenue if your customers are forced to go elsewhere if you’re closed.

Is a 9/80 work schedule right for your business?

Moving to a 9/80 schedule is no small feat. Because it’s a decision that will affect your whole company and come with major readjusting, it’s important to consider all the details before adopting it at your company.

Before implementing a 9/80 work schedule, review the following areas of your business below:

  1. Business operations
    1. A 9/80 work schedule doesn’t work for all companies. You need to consider your staff size, weekly staff requirements, and business and customer needs.
  2. Business industry
    1. The 9/80 schedule is easiest when employees can work similar hours with the same day off every two weeks. It also helps when the company’s success depends on individual employee contributions done at their own pace, like software developers, accountants, graphic designers, business consultants, etc.
    2. Industries such as retail, hospitality, manufacturing, and construction have customer-focused jobs or physically demanding roles that often revolve around consistent business hours, so they may not be as suited for a 9/80 schedule.
  3. Employee feedback
    1. Consult with your workforce to get their opinion on the 9/80 schedule, including how they think it will impact their productivity and morale, how they work best, and preferred days off.
    2. You should also get buy-in from your leadership team, so they can help navigate to staff concerns and offer solutions if or when problems arise.
  4. Resources and services
    1. Before getting started, be sure you have a comprehensive payroll system in place, a good HR team to help employees migrate to a new work schedule, and an updated and accessible company policy, PTO policy, and employee handbook.
  5. Run a trial period
    1. Before fully installing it at your company, transition specific employees or departments to the 9/80 schedule first to see how it runs and resolve any initial issues.

What other flexible benefits can you offer your employees?

Health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs)

Implementing a 9/80 work schedule at your organization is an excellent way to make your company more attractive, but you shouldn’t stop there. 87% of employees say health insurance is extremely important to them. So if you’re looking for a flexible health benefit, consider a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA).

With an HRA, employers offer a monthly allowance that employees can use toward eligible medical expenses like health insurance premiums and other qualified out-of-pocket expenses. You have the flexibility to customize your HRA by deciding what medical expenses to allow for reimbursement and choosing a monthly allowance to offer your employees to purchase items.

Employees are free to choose a health plan that works for them and get reimbursed for the medical services and healthcare items they need, giving them power over their healthcare decision, and improving their employee satisfaction, trust, and morale.

Employee stipends

Freedom to choose has become a big selling point for employees today. Of the employees surveyed in our benefits report, 65% said they value being able to choose their own benefits rather than their employer choosing for them. With that in mind, you should consider an employee stipend.

Instead of setting an allowance upfront like an HRA, you can reimburse employees for various expenses with an employee stipend. While you set up your stipend to allow reimbursements for just about anything, two popular types of stipends are health and wellness stipends.

A health stipend allows your employees to be reimbursed for their medical expenses, while a wellness stipend reimburses your employees for wellness activities, such as gym memberships and fitness trackers.

Stipends are a great way to allow your employees the flexibility to choose how to spend their benefit dollars. Plus, just like HRAs, stipends come with a lower financial risk for you. If your employees don’t use their entire allowance, you keep the remaining balance in your company’s budget.

Conclusion

Whether you’re looking to attract and retain talent or boost your employees’ productivity, a flexible work schedule, like a 9/80 work schedule, is a great way to help you reach your goals. Implementing a 9/80 work schedule at your organization may be challenging, but letting your employees take an extra day off to rest and recover comes with many advantages.

And if you feel your company needs more flexible benefits to complement a 9/80 work schedule, contact us at PeopleKeep. We’ll help you get set up with an HRA or employee stipend to make your benefits package more engaging and robust.

1https://www.apa.org/pubs/reports/work-well-being/compounding-pressure-2021

Originally published on October 26, 2022. Last updated October 26, 2022.
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