Compressed working schedules

A compressed working schedule allows an employee to work longer hours on some days and meet their required weekly hours sooner. The employee can then take a day (or part-day) off with the time they have accrued.

Common compressed working schedules include a 4-day week and a 9-day fortnight.

Four-day week

In a 4-day week, an employee works their required weekly hours over 4 days.

Note: The example below shows a 36.25 hours per week roster.

Week day Hours worked
Monday 9
Tuesday 9
Wednesday 9
Thursday 9.25
Friday Day off

Nine-day fortnight

In a 9-day fortnight, an employee works their required fortnightly hours over 9 days.

Note: The example below shows a 36.25 hours per week roster.

Week day Hours worked
Week 1
Monday 8.25
Tuesday 8
Wednesday 8
Thursday 8
Friday 8
Week 2
Monday 8
Tuesday 8
Wednesday 8
Thursday 8.25
Friday Day off

Compressed weekly schedule with a half-day off

Another option for employees is to work a compressed weekly schedule and accrue enough time for a half-day off.

Note: The example below shows a 36.25 hours per week roster.

Week day Hours worked
Monday 8.25
Tuesday 8
Wednesday 8
Thursday 8
Friday 4

Complying with your industrial award

When allowing compressed hours of work, be careful not to breach the relevant industrial award or agreement that covers your business.

Learn more about hours of work on the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

Health and safety for compressed schedules

For health and safety reasons, some positions may not be suitable for a compressed working schedule; and some may be more suited to a 9-day fortnight rather than a 4-day week. For example, heavy keyboarding positions are not suited to extended hours because of the risk of repetitive strain injuries.

Sick and carer's leave

Sick and carer's leave is paid at an employee's base pay rate for each hour (or part of an hour) they take.

Learn more about payment for sick and carer's leave.

Employer benefits

For employers, the benefits of allowing compressed scheduling include:

  • managing excessive accrued time for certain employees
  • an opportunity to extend hours of workplace operation, especially on busy days
  • dealing with high workloads during peak periods by arranging employees working longer days to overlap where possible
  • attracting a more diverse staff group looking for flexibility (younger, older, and parents)
  • a low-cost employee benefit which can help staff retention
  • more efficient use of workplace facilities or equipment (through increased spread of hours).

Public holidays and sick leave with a compressed working schedule

Employees on a compressed working schedule will continue to have public holidays and sick leave debited at the applicable daily hours rate (e.g. 7.6 hours). This means that if leave is taken on a day when the employee would normally have worked for longer hours (in order to be able to take a scheduled day off), the employee will need to make other arrangements.

Options include:

  • accruing extra hours on other days to cover the sick day or public holiday
  • deferral of the day off until the employee has accrued enough time
  • taking a part-day or half-day off instead of a full day.

Regardless of the option chosen, the employee should not be working outside of the normal spread of allowable working hours for health and safety reasons.

Employee role changes - reassigning responsibility

If an employee changes from a standard 5-day work week to a compressed schedule, any important responsibilities specific to their day/s off should be reassigned to a colleague.

Also consider...