Is The Night Shift Differential Worth It? 

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Could there be more money on the table? Who wouldn’t be excited about that thought of that! If you’re here, chances are you’re either considering night shift or have been working the night shift for a while and questioning if this type of work is for you. Most businesses offer their employees additional pay to those who agree to or choose to work days. So, is the differential pay for the night shift worth it?

For some night workers, a financial incentive is necessary to maintain motivation and a high work ethic due to potential physical and mental health implications. For others, such as natural night owls and those with small children, working overnight is most appropriate and the extra money doesn’t play a major factor in decision-making.

For an honest guide to whether or not the night shift differential (or it’s called allowance in some other areas) is worth it – follow along with us. 

What is Night Shift Allowance? 

A night shift allowance is an additional pay that your employer may offer when you agree to work outside of “normal” work hours. Basically, they are using more money as an incentive to influence you to agree to work the night shift. There is no set amount – the amount that they pay is based on the business alone.

Let’s say when you first start a job, you’re working the day shift, and you’re getting paid $17.50 an hour working 40 hours a week. Before any deductions, your check for that week is $700. Well, let’s say they have a night shift position that needs to be filled. In order to get employees to want to take that position, they offer an additional dollar to your base pay. So, instead of making $17.50 an hour, you’d be making 18.40 an hour. This brings your check to $740 a week. This can go a very long way – especially when you start getting into the details of overtime. 

So, the night shift allowance is just a company’s way of saying, “hey, look, I know this isn’t ideal, but here is some extra cash to make up for your troubles.”

This works for some and for others it’s just not enough to be worth it. Most employees already have a set amount that they are willing to pay listed in their job descriptions and contract. If there is a chance of you working the night shift, be sure you check for any differential pay before accepting the job. That way you know what you are getting yourself into and there is no way for an employer to pull a fast one over you. 

Are Employers Required by Law to Pay a Night Shift Penalty?

According to the US Department of Labor,

“extra pay for working night shifts is a matter of agreement between the employer and the employee (or the employee’s representative). The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require extra pay for night work. However, the FLSA does require that covered, nonexempt workers be paid not less than time and one-half the employee’s regular rate for time worked over 40 hours in a workweek. 

A normal workload for a full-time employee is 40 hours a week or more. As long as working the night shift falls within your required hours to be considered a full-time employee – employers are not required to offer an allowance. That doesn’t mean they don’t offer it,  just that they’re not required to. 

Most employers just know that a night shift allowance is necessary in order to keep that shift staffed. They’re going to be hard-pressed to find anyone willing to work that shift with no type of incentive in place.

Be sure that you’re thoroughly examining any work contract, especially as it pertains to pay. Anything about allowance pay or differential pay should be listed in that contract. If not, be sure to speak up and ask about it. Anything they tell you, you need to have them put it in writing and be sure that it is signed by both parties. That way both you and your employer are safe from any “he said, she said” debacles. 

Night Shift Differntial – No Big Deal

There are some people that are just built for the night shift. Those people who go into a job and ask specifically to work during those hours. Therefore, the pay may not matter as much.

If you go into the job with the mindset of, “I want to work night shift”, chances are you plan to work the night shift regardless of the extra pay. The base pay is enough for some.

Let’s look at some of those instances. 

Loathe Peek Hour Traffic

Most would agree that rush hour traffic is one of the most annoying times of the day. Everywhere you look there are honking horns, wrecks, and people galore. If you’re someone who doesn’t want to deal with the hustle and bustle of the world and prefers to miss out on the action when driving, then, that can serve as a reason alone to work the night shift.

You’re a Night Owl

While rare, there are some people who are naturally night owls.  People who when given a chance, choose to work the night shift over the day shift.  The extra money probably means less to someone who functions on the night shift schedule and was already intended to request that shift regardless. These type of people fall under the category of the Wolf in regards to Chronotype. They only make up about 15 percent of the population. You can find more about Chronotypes on our site.

Family Dynamics

For some families, two-parent families in particular, the night shift dynamic could be ideal. One parent works during the daytime and the other works during the night time. This can mean less money you have to spend on childcare because at least one parent will be home at all times. Should you be new to this schedule, just keep in mind night workers need time to sleep, as this is critical to how you function every day.

Related post – 8 Survival Tips for Single Shift Working Parents

Night Shift Allowance – It Matters

For some, the extra pay truly matters. The night shift is truly not for everyone. It has a big impact on your mental and physical health. So, most people truly need the extra money to make it worth it. And there is nothing wrong with that.

The extra pay is truly deserved if you work the night shift. Let’s look at some instances in which the night shift allowance can truly impact some peoples living situation.

Potential Health Issues

It is no secret that the night shift can result in several health issues, even if you go into working the night shift healthy as a horse. Therefore, the risk isn’t worth it if there isn’t an incentive. Especially if you begin to factor in possible trips to the doctors office because of side effects from working the night shift. Your health comes first – always remember that.

No Sleep

If you’re having to completely flip your sleep schedule just to work the night shift, that extra pay is going to matter – even if just for the inconvenience alone. Changing up your sleep schedule is no easy task. Our body is biologically set up to sleep during the night time. So, there is a high probability that you’re going to be missing out on some sleep, sleep that you wouldn’t be missing out on if you worked a normal shift.

It’s difficult to get your body to a place to where it wants to sleep during the daytime and it can cause some health issues along with way. So, wanting compensation for taking that risk is most definitely not a crime. 

If you’re in this boat and are having trouble sleeping, we love these blue light blocking glasses, this eye mask and this spikey mat… if you feel like some casual shopping which can help your sleeping cycle during the daytime.

Child Care

This is for my parents who have no other choice but to put their child in daycare or pay a sitter for the day. You do have to sleep throughout the day, so someone has to keep an eye on them while you do that. So, night shift may mean paying more for childcare.

Some may even be in a situation where childcare is required during the day while you sleep and then at night while you’re at work. So, that extra pay could go towards ensuring you have enough money to cover the care. So, of course, you’re going to want/need that extra pay to support your household dynamic.

Related post: The Complete Guide to Managing Night Shift with a Newborn

Other Night Shift Incentives

Remember how I said businesses aren’t required to offer their employees additional payment for working the night shift? Still true. I personally don’t agree with a company refusing to pay their employee’s hazard pay. Simply because I know what it’s like.

However, there are still some businesses that can’t / don’t pay their employees a night shift allowance. So, what are some other pros that could potentially make up for that? Even if not necessarily offered by your employer. 

Fewer Distractions

One of my favorites. If you’re like me and your mind gets distracted by the slightest of interruptions – the night shift may be for you. Working the night shift typically means no administration and less staff on duty. That means there is a lot less commotion going on throughout the night. This helps keep you on top of your work (which always makes you look good). As someone who has worked a variety of shifts – the night shift is where I’m most productive. 

Keeping reading >> 9 Reasons Why Working Christmas Night Isn’t So Bad


Again, fewer higher-ups in the building. You get to work your entire job with less supervision. This allows you to truly showcase how big of an asset you are to the company. If you can run that entire place and keep it afloat while the administration is not there, it shows that you’re one of the employees that don’t need constant micromanagement. 

Related post – 13 Advantages of Shift Work for Employees

Few Competitors

Working the night shift gives you a greater opportunity to climb the ranks. Because fewer people want to work the night shift, that means less competition for the ones who do. Chances are there are going to be more supervisory roles available on the night shift than on the day shift. Use the night shift to progress your career. 

VIDEO – What To Do When Working Multiple Night Shifts In A Row

So is the night shift allowance enough for you?

If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times – working the night shift is not for everyone.

The toll that it can take on your body and mentality is enough to turn anyone away. Most businesses recognize that and compensate you accordingly. If your place of employment does offer some type of monetary incentive, be sure you’re able to easily locate that in your hiring documentation.

So, be sure you know exactly what you’re going into before accepting the job. If you currently work the night shift, we’d love to hear about how your place of employment incentivises working the night shift. Let us know in the comments below.



Disclosure: This page may contain affiliate links, meaning we receive a commission if you decide to make a purchase through our links, but this is at no additional cost to you. Please read our disclosure and privacy statement for more info.


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