Quotation Sardadvar, Karin. 2019. Fragmented workdays: Split shifts and the boundaries between paid work, unpaid work, and non-work. WORK2019 – Real Work in the Virtual World, Helsinki, Finnland, 14.08.-16.08.




Atypical, fragmented, and hybrid work comes in many varieties. In my presentation, I aim to shed light on one particular variety of fragmented work that has received very little attention to date in spite of its severe effects on employees’ lives: split shifts. Split shifts are a working time model in which the workday is interrupted by one or more hours of an unpaid break. This shift-work model is widespread in such sectors as cleaning, elderly care, hotels and restaurants, retail, and transportation. It is used to create employer-centred flexibility and to accommodate customer preferences. For employees, split shifts can imply long overall workdays involving alternating shifts of paid and unpaid work and multiple travel times. Yet, as opposed to other shift work or on-call duties, the strains and disadvantages connected to split shifts are often not compensated at all, or only very little. Split shifts can be regarded as hybrid in the sense of blurring the borders between work and non-work. In practice, split shifts are connected to several ambivalences: For instance, split-shift employees are forced to have a break, but this break cannot be spent ‘usefully’ if employees do not have the option to go home. Furthermore, the interruption may be a break from paid work, but in the employees’ lifeworld realities, especially women’s, the ‘break’ is in fact often used for reproductive work. Even if employees can spend their unpaid break at home, they often report that it does not feel like leisure time as they know they will have to get ready and go to work once again soon. Finally, if paid and unpaid work are taken together, split-shift workers may be working from the very early morning until the late evening, but still not have a full-time income, as is often the case in the cleaning and care sectors, where part-time employment, including involuntary part-time, is common.


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Publication's profile

Status of publication Published
Affiliation WU
Type of publication Paper presented at an academic conference or symposium
Language English
Title Fragmented workdays: Split shifts and the boundaries between paid work, unpaid work, and non-work
Event WORK2019 – Real Work in the Virtual World
Year 2019
Date 14.08.-16.08.
Country Finland
Location Helsinki
URL http://workconference.fi/work2019/


Split shifts and the fragmentation of working lives
Sardadvar, Karin (Details)
Institute for Sociology and Social Research IN (Details)
Research areas (ÖSTAT Classification 'Statistik Austria')
5402 General sociology (Details)
5433 Gender studies (Details)
5904 Ergonomics (Details)
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