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What Is a Typical FIFO Schedule?

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FIFO, standing for “Fly In Fly Out”, is a work arrangement that’s quite common in industries like mining, construction, and oil. It involves employees flying to their work site for a certain period, then flying back home for a rest. With this irregular setup in mind, one question that may arise is that of the schedule. So, what exactly does a typical FIFO schedule look like?

A typical FIFO schedule entails working 10-12 hours for 2-4 weeks straight, including weekends, followed by 1-2 weeks off. Despite the demanding hours, workers are guaranteed days off according to their roster, along with annual leave, ensuring ample time for rest, recuperation, and family.

Let’s break down some of the factors that go into your schedule as a FIFO worker – the working hours, the time off, and more.

Do You Work Weekends on FIFO?

working weekends on a FIFO arrangement

The question of whether FIFO workers have to work weekends isn’t straightforward—it varies greatly depending on the job and the project requirements. In many FIFO jobs, the operation runs around the clock, seven days a week. This is often due to the nature of the industries that use FIFO arrangements, such as mining and construction, where pausing work can be costly and delay project timelines.

If your role in a FIFO job requires weekend work, you’ll likely know well in advance. Employers typically outline the work schedule clearly, so workers know what to expect. Commonly you might find yourself working for one or more full weeks, including weekends, followed by a block of days off. This cycle repeats throughout the duration of their roster.

The necessity to work over the weekend stems from the project’s demands and the high operational costs associated with downtime. For projects in remote locations or those with tight deadlines, continuous work, including weekends, ensures progress is steady and project goals are met on time.

However, the concept of weekends in a traditional sense can blur in FIFO roles, as the focus is more on the rotation schedule—you work for a set number of days, then have a set number of days off, regardless of whether these fall on weekdays or weekends. For example, a common rotation is the 2:1 setup, where you work for 2 full weeks straight and then get 1 full week off. This cycle provides predictability and consistency, allowing workers to plan their rest periods and personal time effectively despite the unconventional work pattern.

How Many Hours Do FIFO Workers Work?

what work hours does a FIFO worker do

The working hours for FIFO (Fly-In Fly-Out) workers can significantly differ from the traditional 9-to-5 jobs, mainly due to the specialized nature of their industries like mining, oil, and construction. The exact number of hours a FIFO worker will put in during a shift depends on several factors, including the specific job role, the company’s operational requirements, and the project’s location.

Typically, a FIFO worker’s day can be long, often stretching between 10 to 12 hours, and in some cases, it might extend even longer. These extended hours are a product of the need to maximize productivity during the time spent at remote sites. Since these sites are operational 24/7, shift schedules are designed to ensure continuous work progress, which necessitates longer working hours.

Despite the long hours, FIFO schedules are carefully planned to adhere to labour laws and regulations, ensuring worker safety and health. This meticulous planning is crucial, especially in physically demanding roles common in FIFO work, to prevent fatigue and ensure high safety standards.

The rotational nature of FIFO arrangements serves to balance these long working days with extended rest periods. The work roster, which outlines the cycle of work days followed by rest days, is designed to allow workers adequate time to recover from the strenuous work periods. For example, after a typical stint of 2 weeks on site with 12-hour days, a worker might get a full week off to rest.

Do FIFO Workers Get Days Off?

FIFO arrangements provide days off

Days off are an integral part of the FIFO work schedule, as they provide essential breaks between unbroken periods of work. The nature of FIFO work requires employees to spend extended periods at remote work sites, followed by periods of time off. This pattern ensures that workers have time to rest and recuperate away from the job site.

The structure of days off for FIFO workers is dependent on the specific work roster they are on. Rosters are designed taking into account the project needs, the location, and the wellbeing of the workforce. A common roster might be “2 weeks on, 1 week off”, where workers spend two weeks at the work site, followed by a week off. Other variations might include “8 days on, 6 days off”, “4 weeks on, 1 week off”, or even longer stretches, especially for projects that are particularly remote or challenging. There are a wide range of rotation options for FIFO work, so it’s important to think about what setup would work best for you and whether your desired roles provide those structures.

The scheduled days off provided within a FIFO structure are essential for maintaining a healthy work-life balance. They provide FIFO workers with the opportunity to unwind, spend quality time with family and friends, and engage in personal activities or hobbies. This downtime is crucial for mental and physical health, helping to alleviate the potential stresses associated with FIFO work arrangements. Employers understand the importance of these rest periods and strictly adhere to them to ensure their workforce remains productive and healthy.

Days off are ultimately a fundamental component of the FIFO work schedule, allowing workers the necessary time to rest and rejuvenate before returning to their work duties. This system helps to manage the unique demands placed on FIFO workers, ensuring they remain fit and healthy both mentally and physically.

Do FIFO Workers Get Annual Leave?

FIFO workers accrue annual leave

FIFO workers, like employees in other sectors, are entitled to annual leave. This provision ensures that, on top of the rostered days off, workers have the opportunity to take extended breaks for rest, leisure, or personal matters. Annual leave is a crucial aspect of employment that supports workers’ wellbeing and work-life balance, especially given the intense work periods and remote locations characteristic of FIFO roles.

The specifics of annual leave—how much is accrued and how it can be taken—will generally be outlined in an employee’s contract. This entitlement is in accordance with national employment standards, which set the minimum leave benefits for workers. For example, in many places, full-time employees are entitled to four weeks of paid annual leave per year. FIFO workers are no exception to these standards, and their leave entitlements ensure they can enjoy prolonged periods away from work environments, which is vital for recuperation and spending time with loved ones.

The process for taking annual leave in FIFO jobs is typically straightforward, requiring workers to request time off in advance. This allows for adequate planning and ensures that a worker’s absence doesn’t disrupt the ability of the project to progress. Employers are aware of the importance of annual leave for maintaining a healthy, happy workforce and usually facilitate the process to ensure workers can make the most of their time off.

Annual leave for FIFO workers operates much like it does in other industries, providing essential breaks from work responsibilities. This time off is additional to the regular days off that come with FIFO rosters, offering workers a chance for longer, uninterrupted periods of rest. This system plays a significant role in promoting a positive work-life balance and overall wellbeing for those in the FIFO workforce.

What Is a Typical FIFO Roster?

Understanding the unique work-life balance in FIFO (Fly-In Fly-Out) arrangements is crucial for anyone considering entering such a schedule, regardless of sector, as it is the key factor that makes these roles unique. While the setup might involve working weekends, long hours, and being away from home for extended periods, the structure of rostered days off and entitlements like annual leave ensure that workers have ample opportunity to rest, recover, and spend quality time with their loved ones. These arrangements are designed with the worker’s health and wellbeing in mind, balancing the intense work periods with significant rest times. For many, the FIFO lifestyle offers a rewarding career path, providing clear benefits that help manage the demands of such roles. Whether it’s the extended days off or the annual leave entitlements, FIFO workers are supported in maintaining a healthy work-life balance, making it a viable and attractive option for those looking for employment in the industries that commonly offer FIFO roles.

Curious to learn more? Check out “What Is the Role of Labour in the Economy?” for an in-depth look at how workers fuel economic progress and stability. Or, if you’re pondering the pros and cons of FIFO work, “Is FIFO Work Worth It?” delves into the realities, benefits, and challenges, offering valuable perspectives for anyone considering this unique lifestyle.

Local Workforce Hire Editorial Team

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