Could The 9/80 Schedule Replace the 5-Day Work Week? Here’s What to Know

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine2.3k
April 15, 2024 at 1:47AM UTC

In a 9/80 work schedule, employees work eight nine-hour days and one eight-hour day over two weeks. They also get one day off over the two-week period, often allowing them to enjoy a three-day weekend. When accounting for payroll, employers apply half of the eight-hour workday to the following week, ensuring that each workweek consists of 40 hours, and each two-week period consists of 80 hours — hence the name 9/80. Employees don’t receive overtime for nine-hour workdays under this arrangement.


Example week

Week #1

Monday: 8 am – 6 pm (with a one-hour lunch break)

Tuesday: 8 am – 6 pm (with a one-hour lunch break)

Wednesday: 8 am – 6 pm (with a one-hour lunch break)

Thursday: 8 am – 6 pm (with a one-hour lunch break)

Friday: 9 am – 6 pm (with a one-hour lunch break; four hours applied to week #2 for payroll purposes)

Week #2

Monday: 8 am – 6 pm (with a one-hour lunch break)

Tuesday: 8 am – 6 pm (with a one-hour lunch break)

Wednesday: 8 am – 6 pm (with a one-hour lunch break)

Thursday: 8 am – 6 pm (with a one-hour lunch break)

Friday: off

This is just an example of how a 9/80 schedule might work. There are many variations (such as beginning the day earlier or ending later) employers can use depending on their coverage needs.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of working a 9/80 schedule?

There are many advantages to this type of flexible work schedule, but there are also some drawbacks. They include:


• Better work/life balance

Employees are receiving more days off, which allows them to spend their free time however they wish, as well as recuperate from the long work week. Moreover, they’ll have two long weekends per month, enabling them to get the rest they need and spend extra time with their family and friends.

• Increased productivity

Employees may be less like to take time away from work for doctor’s appointments, errands or other commitments since they’ll have two extra days per month to deal with these issues. Moreover, given that they’re spending more uninterrupted time in the office — nine hours (plus a lunch break) instead of eight or fewer, they may be more able and willing to complete tasks and assignments once they begin them.

• More time

Your employees will gain back time in their busy lives, simply by virtue of spending less time commuting. For an extra two days a month, they won’t need to waste precious hours on the train or sitting in traffic. (Plus, if they drive to work, they won’t waste gas — or gas money — either.)


• Schedule complications

You’ll need to account for paid time off (PTO), such as vacations and sick days, which becomes more complicated with a 9/80 work schedule, especially for exempt employees. (What happens when a sick day falls on an eight-hour workday versus a nine-hour workday, for instance?) You’ll need to make the rules clear and outline possible scenarios ahead of time to ensure that your policy is consistent.

• Longer workdays

Working for nine hours in one day can take its toll on some people. While employees will be able to enjoy long weekends at least twice a month, they will have little time to spend with their families during the workweek or make plans for their evenings because they’ll be working such long days. 

• Exhaustion and decreased morale

While some employees may appreciate having the extra time off, others may feel exhausted working such long hours and deem the two days off per month not worth the extra effort. Before you implement a 9/80 work schedule in your office, you should make sure your employees are on board, so as not to go against the majority's preference.

What is a 9/80 work schedule in California?

In California, employers may implement an alternative work schedule (AWS), such as a 9/80 schedule. Another common AWS in the state is the 4/10 schedule, involving 10-hour workdays for four days and one day off every week. 

Typically, employees who work more than eight hours per day would receive overtime. However, under the California Labor Code Section 510(a)(1), if an AWS is adopted, employees would not receive overtime, assuming their work time falls within the parameters of the schedule — as in, not more than 80 hours over two weeks.

Before adopting an AWS, California employers must conduct a secret ballot of their employees, and employees must adopt the measure by a two-thirds majority. Fourteen days prior to calling the vote, the employer must hold a meeting disclosing the terms. No employees may intimidate colleagues or attempt to sway their votes. The measure must also meet the following parameters:

• It must be provided to employees in writing, noting how it will affect their salaries, work time and benefits. 

• Employees must not be expected to work for more than 10 hours at one time without receiving overtime compensation.

• The employee must wait 30 days after holding the election and before implementing the measure.

• The employer must provide the results of the election to the California Division of Labor Statistics and Research.

What is the 5-4-9 work schedule?

A 5-4-9 schedule is pretty much identical to the 9/80 work schedule — in fact, it’s essentially the same thing, just a little more rigid in its structure. The 9/80 schedule accounts for some flexibility, such as breaking up the amount of time over the days within the week, while still amounting to 80 hours over the course of two weeks, while the 5-4-9 work schedule is strictly nine hours Monday through Thursday, eight hours on the first Friday of the payroll period and the second Friday off. 

Employers may elect to implement this schedule to have coverage during all working hours, with groups of workers alternating every other Friday.

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