Shift Patterns Explained

Hands up if you know your Regular 4 from your Continental. No, they are not both a type of breakfast, they are in fact types of shift pattern. 

As you find yourself launched into shift working you will become fluent in this bizarre new shift language but if you are just starting out, here is a quick run-down of what some of the shift patterns are and what they mean.

Rotational Shift Patterns

The most common shift pattern in the world of warehouse is the Rotational pattern which will comprise of days, afternoons and nights, usually on a weekly rotation. Sometimes you might find it is a fortnightly rotation, but this is less common.  

The start and finish times for a Rotational shift pattern could be something like this: 

Days 06:00am – 14:00pm or 07.30am – 15.30pm

Afternoons 14:00pm – 22:00pm 

Nights 22:00pm – 06:00am or 23.30pm - -3.30am

If you’re on a Rotational shift pattern you will be paid the same rate for days and afternoons as you will for evenings but there is usually a ‘shift allowance’ rolled into the pay rate as a benefit of working a shift pattern. 

Fixed Shifts

Another common shift type for warehouse workers is a fixed shift. On a fixed shift you could work days, afternoons or nights. 

Day and afternoon fixed shifts will have a fixed pay rate, but night fixed shifts will usually be paid at a higher rate. 

2 Shift

This is a type of rotational shift where you switch on a weekly rotation between working Monday to Friday, 0600-1400 in the first week and Monday to Friday 1400-2200 in the second week. 


This is a continuous shift pattern that comprises of short blocks of shift types followed by a block of rest days. On a continental pattern you could find that you work a string of 8 hour shifts for 7 days. You might start with mornings for two shifts, then afternoons for three shifts and end with nights for 2 shifts over the 7 day period followed by a few days off before starting back with mornings again. 

Regular 4 on 4 off

This is a type of continuous working pattern similar to a Continental, a regular 4 on 4 off is based on 12 hour shifts. You would work for four consecutive 12 hour days, then you would have 4 consecutive days off, followed by 4 consecutive 12 hour night shifts followed by four consecutive days off. Your shift pattern would continue in this manner. 

There are many variations of shift pattern out there, these are just a few of the ones you will come across in warehouse working. The job description should always display the shift pattern that is available but if you are unsure or, if you are restricted in the hours you can work don’t be afraid to ask if there is any other pattern available.

To take a look at all of the warehouse jobs we have with many types of shift pattern available click here. 

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