How far in advance should you send out your rota?

Some new research out this month (15 April 2021) by the Living Wage Foundation, says that almost 40% of shift workers are given less than a week’s notice of their working hours, with a small percentage getting less than a day’s notice. They also point out that it seems to be more prevalent with low paid workers on variable hours, which presents wider issues around job security and income, as they don’t know from one month to the next how much they’re going to get paid.

This clearly makes things difficult for your staff but can also have a negative impact on the business itself and got us thinking about some best practice in sending out staff rotas.

Here are our thoughts and top tips on best practice for communicating your rotas...


When should you send staff their rota?

In the UK there is currently no legislation dictating how far in advance employers must notify staff of their scheduled working hours. As part of their Living Hours standard, the Living Wage Foundation encourages companies to give staff at least four weeks’ notice of their shifts, as part of a campaign to guarantee workers enough working hours to make ends meet and give them some financial security. Elsewhere, in other countries, the timeline for sending out rotas to staff is governed by law and can range between 14 and 21 days.

It may depend what business you’re in as to the timeline of your rotas, but we would always recommend doing them as well ahead of time as you can.  Being ahead of the game gives you enough time to deal with any issues, and staff are more likely to commit if they know well in advance.  In any case, if you have rota management software, changing them is pretty straight forward.  
 

Include details of your rota processes in your employee contracts

Including details of your rota process in your employee contracts is the best way of ensuring everyone knows where they stand.  Should there be any issues in the future with an employee saying they didn’t know when they’d receive their rota or that you didn’t send it out in time, you know you’re covered.


Have a process for distributing rotas

The key thing as far as we’re concerned, is that you set expectations by having a consistent process in place and your staff know and are happy with this process. And once your process is in place, make sure you stick to it. If your rotas are late, you risk upsetting your staff.  


Less absenteeism

The more notice you give, the more likely your staff are to turn up for work.  Allowing staff time to plan family commitments such as childcare, caring for a relative or studying for example is really important. 


Issue your rota on time and well in advance

The later you leave it, the more likely you are to encounter problems of staff having already made other commitments or more likely to have problems with childcare for example forcing you to make lots of changes.  If you issue the rota late, you’re also more likely to have disgruntled staff who are then more likely to call in sick or will become resentful as they can’t plan a day off or a holiday.


Rota planning should be simple

If it feels too hard to publish your rota 2, 3 or 4 weeks in advance, it might be time to evaluate the system or process that you’re using.  

A rota system with functionalities like shift swaps, instant communication via SMS and setting employee availability, really leaves no excuse not to publish rotas in plenty of time.  A good system and process mean less work and a more accurate rota.


Building a happy and healthy workforce

If you can show your staff that you are organised, respect your staff’s time and wishes and you’re on top of your staffing requirements, you are far more likely to have a team that trusts you and is happy to work for you.  

A happy workforce brings so many added benefits around patient care, retention of staff, staff wellbeing and in turn will lead to more revenue and growth for your business. 

The happiness of your staff may not be the driving force in investing in rota management software, but it gives you a big advantage – you are showing you care and want to invest in people to make their working lives better.