Quality of working time in the police : the experience of shift extensification for officers and staff

Scholarios, Dora and Hesselgreaves, Hannah and Pratt, Raymond (2018) Quality of working time in the police : the experience of shift extensification for officers and staff. In: Job Quality in an Era of Flexibility. Routledge Studies in Employment Relations . Routledge, Abingdon, Oxon. ISBN 978-1-138-56159-5

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    This chapter examines the quality of working time within the police service, focusing on one particular dimension of working time, shift extensification. For the police service, demands for operational efficiency make shiftwork and unsocial working hours an expectation. However, extended shifts which are unpredictable are seldom formally recognised. The chapter proposes that, over time, such regular shift extensification leads to degradation in the quality of working time as a result of its consequences for employee work-life balance, wellbeing and health. It reports a study drawing from a survey of 3257 UK police officers and staff to examine the extent to which extended hours are an issue. The chapter presents analysis of 2198 open text comments across the range of occupations in order to enrich the understanding of how working time quality is affected by this form of unplanned shift extensification. The data allows us to reflect on the implications for working time quality in situations where employer-driven demands for short notice flexible scheduling are shifting the adjustment back on employees. It is argued that this pattern is increasingly evident in many front-line occupations in a range of contemporary contexts, including the public sector.