Compressed Workweek (Compressed Schedule)


The term compressed workweek refers to an alternative schedule that allows employees to work a full complement of hours in fewer than five days.  Compressed workweeks may be a permanent arrangement or occur seasonally.


A standard work week typically consists of five consecutive eight-hour workdays.  Monday through Friday are the most common workdays, with Saturday and Sunday being the employee's regular days off (RDOs).  Compressed workweeks, also known as compressed schedules, are alternatives that permit an employee to complete their 40 hours in less than five workdays.  The most common compressed workweeks include:

  • Three-Twelves:  in this arrangement, the employee works three 12-hour days each week and has four RDOs.
  • Four-Tens:  in this arrangement, the employee works four 10-hour days each week and has three RDOs.
  • Nine-Eighty:  in this arrangement, the employee works nine days over a period of two weeks.  This includes one week of five nine-hour days followed by a week of four nine-hour days.

Employees can be assigned to a permanent compressed workweek or allowed to work a schedule seasonally.  For example, employees may be offered the option to work four-tens during the summer months.  To ensure the standard workweek has adequate coverage, some employees in a group may work Monday through Thursday while others work Tuesday through Friday.

Compressed workweeks offer the employee the opportunity to have more days off each week, while retaining their full time income.  Working a compressed schedule can also save the employee money on their commuting expenses.  At the same time, working longer hours each day can be mentally draining.  These schedules can also make it challenging to find services to help with the care of a child or elderly relative.

Related Terms

hiring freeze, sabbatical, dislocated worker, exit incentives, severance pay, workforce reduction, employee lending agreement