Swap shifts – is that just allowed?

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Whether it’s a planned dinner with the family, the birthday of a close friend or a parent-teacher conference at school – events like these are difficult to organize with an upcoming late shift. To switch shifts seems to be the optimal solution here, but is it allowed to do so?

Staff schedulers often find it difficult to keep track of all their employees’ private appointments. It is therefore hardly surprising that especially in shift systems, problems with balancing private and professional commitments can arise. In these situations, employees often try to find a replacement on their own in order to take the workload off the team management or to avoid increasing the organizational effort for the group. But beware: it’s not that simple.

A so-called self-initiated shift change must always be approved by the employer. Neither in Austria nor in Germany do employees have the legal right to change their shift schedule or to claim their usual shifts. Staff planners are also not entitled to modify shifts or simply reassign them without good cause or consideration of the employee’s objections after the shift plan has been dispatched. In the event of a shift change, companies must always observe the legally applicable working hours and rest periods as well as any required qualifications, in order to comply with the statutory framework conditions and requirements in any case. 

But how can a shift change be done in a legally protected manner?

In the case of manual changes, it is particularly important to seek the dialog with all parties involved. The participation of the personnel planners is essential, to ensure that internal and legal requirements are taken into account. 

An alternative to simplifying shift swapping entirely without additional expense is the use of digital duty scheduling tools. Companies can use a software tool, with which they can decide for themselves whether a change of duty or shift is generally possible within the company. Taking into account stored qualifications, strategies and legal constraints, employees can request duties or make swap requests via the application. This ensures greater flexibility in shift planning in line with any regulations that may apply. Staff schedulers can, of course, make manual changes at any time if necessary or tender services according to the so-called “first-come-first-serve principle”.

In other words, employees wishes and swap requests can be implemented without any additional effort thanks to intelligent software tools – while at the same time reducing the amount of communication required. This is how efficient, transparent and employee-centric shift planning can happen these days.

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