Expert advice

Workplace: How can I advise nurses who regularly have split days off?

Split days off are becoming a reality for many nurses but they can play havoc with your health and wellbeing, says Zeba Arif. 

Split days off are becoming a reality for many nurses but they can play havoc with your health and wellbeing, says Zeba Arif 

Most nurses are contracted to work 37.5 hours over five days, followed by two days off. 

But many areas of the NHS are so short staffed that split days off - where you don’t get two consecutive days off – are becoming a reality for many nurses as managers struggle to provide cover for shifts. 

Days off are essential to maintaining a healthy work/life balance - particularly in increasingly pressured working environments – and this could be seen as a health and safety issue. 

You may find it difficult to rest and recharge your batteries in just one day, or you may have caring, domestic or other responsibilities which require you to have two days off together. 

Potential burn out

Insufficient rest can lead to burnout, resulting in increased sickness absence. If you are repeatedly rostered to work split days off, and this is affecting your physical and / or mental well being, you should speak to your line manager. 

If the initial verbal request does not resolve the situation, contact your trade union health and safety representative who can advise you on what to do next. 

This could involve writing to your manager and reminding him or her of your previous conversation. Your manager will have to respond in writing, as per your trust policy, and don’t forget to copy your representative into your correspondence. 

It is highly likely your manager will try and resolve this issue with you, but you may have to be flexible and compromise. 

Consider carefully whether you are prepared to work the occasional week when you may have split days off.

About the author

Zeba Arif

Zeba Arif is chair of the RCN forensic nursing forum and was an RCN steward for 23 years

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