How far in advance should you give employees notice of their work schedule?


5 min read

How far in advance should you give employees notice of their work schedule?

Dom Hopkinson

Nov 23, 2020


    How far in advance should you give employees notice of their work schedule?

    Trying to manage your employees’ schedules can be time-consuming and difficult. Planning their work shifts, creating a rota, and sending it out to all of your employees takes a lot of time and effort. And it might lead you to some important questions — like how far in advance you should give employees their work rota. 

    We’re here to answer all of your questions about providing employees with their schedule; including how far in advance you should send employees their work rota — and how providing it in ample time can help your employee satisfaction and business grow.

    What Should A Work Rota Look Like?

    In its most basic form, a work rota is a schedule that lists:

    • Each employee’s name
    • The shifts they’re scheduled to work during a certain week (days and times)
    • The location where they’ll complete those shifts (if relevant)

    You might also choose to list your employee’s responsibilities during their shifts. It’s helpful to have all of the information your employees need in one place so they don’t have to go looking. A comprehensive work rota ensures that nothing (and no-one) falls through the cracks. 

    Your employees will appreciate it if you make sure they’re able to access the rota anytime, anywhere, from any device. Finally, it will save you time by working from the same basic template every time you create an employee schedule.

    Benefits of Giving Your Employees their Work Rota

    It might seem like more work for you to give your employees their schedule a couple of weeks in advance. But the benefits will far outweigh any extra work. 

    When your employees have their schedule in advance, they can compare it against their personal calendar to see if they need any time off. That gives them plenty of time to communicate with you or swap shifts with a coworker if needed. Scheduling functionalities like shift swaps, instant communication, and setting availability in advance can lead to higher rates of employee happiness and satisfaction. And in turn, that will lead to more revenue and growth for you.

    So, how far in advance should you give your employees their work rota? 

    How Far in Advance to Give Your Employees Their Work Rota

    In many countries, the timeline for giving employees their rota is actually dictated by law. Many predictive scheduling laws state that employees need to be given their schedules, including any changes, at least 14 days before the first shift begins. Some places even require 21 days. Make sure you do your research to find out if there are any applicable laws in your area that will affect your scheduling.

    It’s also important to set expectations up front with your employees. Whenever you decide to give them their schedule — whether that’s a week prior to their shift or a month prior — let them know. Then make a point to never be late sending out their schedule. Your employees might be trying to arrange childcare or shifts for a second job around their schedule, so they’ll appreciate the consistency.

    It can be a good idea to include a note about scheduling in your employees’ contracts. Add language that explains your scheduling process and informs employees about what to expect. This ensures you’re covered if an employee comes back later and tries to say they didn’t know when they’d receive their rota or that you didn’t send it out in time. 

    How Far in Advance is Too Far?

    While some employers might provide employees with their schedule as early as a month prior, leaving that much of a gap could cause issues. Things might change, and it’s better for you to give employees a schedule that’s set in stone rather than a tentative one that may need to be redone.

    If the laws in your area do require that employees receive their schedules a month in advance, be completely transparent with your workers. Let them know that the schedule they currently have is a tentative one. Be open as you explain that you will do your best to keep it as is, but you might not be able to make guarantees. 

    As a general rule of thumb, always give your employees their rota at least two weeks (14 days) in advance — earlier if the law dictates. Your employees will thank you. And when your employees are happy, your customers will thank you, too.

    Excel template

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