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The Complete Guide to Writing A Nurses’ Self Scheduling Policy

The Complete Guide to Writing A Nurses’ Self Scheduling Policy

The Complete Guide to Writing A Nurses’ Self Scheduling Policy

With the challenges of retaining nurses in the healthcare industry, it is important for healthcare facilities to find ways to help make the work environment more attractive. One of the more popular perks for nurses is introducing self-scheduling. Although this might sound like a policy that would lead to disaster, more and more healthcare facilities are using this scheduling system to offer nurses more control over their own time.

For self-scheduling to work, a policy should be drawn up so that everyone understands their responsibilities and how the system works. Here we offer self-scheduling for nurses guidelines to empower nursing staff to manage their life-work balance while providing full coverage for a happier team.  



Consider Group Rotation

One of the biggest challenges of self-scheduling for nurses is ensuring everyone is treated as fairly as possible. To ensure fairness, create at least two groups of nurses. The purpose of the groups is to allow for rotation so that everyone gets a chance to be the first to enter their desired schedule times. For smaller staff groups, you can allow each nurse to rotate their chance to enter their desired hours first.

Introduce a Scheduling Process

The scheduling process explains clearly how the schedule will be compiled. The details required for an effective process would include:

  • Group rotation schedules
  • Hour entry completion deadlines posted for all nurses to see
  • Initial hour selection including requests for time off
  • Creating a draft shell of the schedule for circulation and approval
  • Posting the schedule in a timely manner
  • The team scheduled to enter their hours first are protected from schedule adjustments by the schedule manager
  • Anyone who fails to enter their hours by the deadline loses their chance to request hours and instead will be entered by the schedule manager

Define Scheduling Requirements

In order to ensure proper coverage, it is necessary to define your scheduling requirements. Your requirements would include:

  • The length each schedule covers, i.e. two weeks, a month, six weeks
  • The hour requirements for each nurse and/or level of the nurse. For example, each person must work one weekend shift per month, must be available for on-call shifts for one weekend per month and three nights per month, etc.
  • Specifications regarding shift alignment, i.e. a nurse working a night shift cannot schedule themselves to work the following morning
  • How many nurses are required on each shift, including how many must be on call if applicable
  • Agreed upon lieu shifts, i.e. if a nurse cannot work a required weekend shift, they must take on an additional weeknight shift to make up for it to ensure no one nurse if working the best hours all the time
  • How adjustments are made when scheduling requirements are not met, i.e. preference is given to senior team members

Time Off Request Rules

As with any scheduling system, time off can pose issues. Your self-scheduling, therefore, requires a request for time off due date and guidelines including:

  • Shift trading is permitted for time off requests after the schedule is posted
  • Define how much vacation/sick days are allowed
  • Determine how many days can be requested in a row, i.e. no more than two weeks based on the number of vacation days allowed
  • List all recognized holidays and how staffing is to be managed, i.e. rotation of skeleton staff so everyone has to take a holiday shift
  • How many people can request vacation per day?

Holiday scheduling will have its own requirements including:

  • How holidays that fall on or around a weekend are to be scheduled i.e. do people working a Christmas Day that falls on a Saturday then get an additional day off the following week
  • People working on holidays that fall on the Friday before or the Monday after a weekend should not work that weekend or vice versa
  • Holiday times will initially be self-scheduled, and if the overage is insufficient rules must be outlined, i.e. rotation of holidays off, or preference is given to those with seniority
  • Criteria that employees must meet so they can be paid for a holiday.  For example, some companies post a policy that employees must work the day prior and the day after in order to get paid for a holiday. 

Overtime Policy

Outline the rules regarding overtime including:

  • Agreed upon pay for overtime hours
  • Whether or not permission is required for overtime
  • How overtime is recorded and tracked

Compliance Tracking

To truly reap the benefits of self-scheduling for nurses you can use a scheduling software. This will help you track compliance for your self-scheduling policy. It will ensure nurses are working their required hours each week and that all shifts are covered effectively. You can also use scheduling software in hand with a payroll/time clock to ensure pay is properly recorded including overtime.

About The Author

Kayla is the Marketing Manager at Paypro Corporation overseeing all inbound and outbound marketing and sales efforts. She has 7+ years of experience working within the B2B and SaaS based solutions space and thrives on creating messaging and campaigns that introduce products and services to those who need them most.

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