The Secret to Managing Extra-Duty

extra duty scheduling

For many law enforcement agencies, secondary duty has become a consistent part of the job description.

Secondary duty can, however, drastically affect an agencies overall ability to provide quality service to the public as employees suffer chronic fatigue, and departments bear the extra costs associated with staff working off-duty hours.

Typically staff cannot be prohibited from working these extra activities, but agencies can work to regulate and monitor extra hours with the proper tools and protocol. This article, based upon J. R. Brunet’s publication “Blurring the Line between Public and Private Sectors: The Case of Police Officers’ Off-Duty Employment,” argues for not only managing secondary duty internally, but for integrating secondary duty management, electronically, with day-to-day scheduling.

Why is Effective Extra-Duty Management so Important?

Managing secondary duty internally offers a number of practical long-term benefits such as:

 sleepy time tom edited1. Preventing Excessive “Moonlighting” and Employee Fatigue

Excessive moonlighting can contribute to employee fatigue and overwork, lack of focus, poor performance on the job, and increased sick leave. By limiting the number of hours worked by officers you can prevent these declines in safety and performance.

 

 2. Standard Fee Policies

Fees for working secondary duty can be made fair for all parties, which helps ensure that related departmental costs are properly covered.

 3. Mitigating Risks

Agencies can adequately allocate and supervise staffing of an event, ensuring proper training and certification of all staff, and overall safety for all parties. A written contract can also be created to make sure both payment and services are delivered.

4. Regulating Activity Types

Many departments forbid working certain activity types, such as liquor-primary events, or working for employers with felony records. Having agency oversight can prevent conflicts of interest.

5. Preventing Double Booking

By managing your secondary duty you can ensure that your officers are not double-booked. There will not be any conflicts with their regular schedule and you will know at all times when they are available to respond to a call-out.

Moonlighting can contribute to employee fatigue and overwork, lack of focus, poor performance on the job, and increased sick leave

Why You Need to Manage Extra-Duty Electronically

Using an electronic system to manage your special events and off-duty scheduling allows agencies to really leverage the benefits that are gained by managing secondary duty in the first place. Also, most agencies do not have the manpower to manually administrate and schedule off-duty officers on top of the regular scheduling demands. An electronic scheduling system capable of managing secondary duty allows your agency to easily monitor and control secondary duty without adding to the scheduling officer’s workload.

Use the following list of core features as a checklist when evaluating electronic systems. The following features can all be accomplished, but not by all systems:

1. Rules-Basedelectronic scheduling checklist

Ensure fair and equitable allocation of secondary duty hours using system tracking and rule sets. Fairly allocating the opportunities across all eligible staff members will reduce employee frustration and abuse of secondary duty opportunities, and can boost employee morale.

2. Extra-Duty Functionality

Take advantage of functionality to post out secondary duty opportunities and have staff electronically sign-up for consideration.

3. Notifications

Use system notifications to transmit scheduling data, or even offer out new opportunities.

4. Mobile Friendly

Share scheduling data over the web through mobile devices, so that employees have access to secondary duty details at all time.

5. Tracking & Reporting

Track and report on all hours, activities and locations worked. Prevent employees from working excessive hours that can lead to fatigue or safety concerns.

Use an Integrated System and Reap the Benefits (and cost savings)

Moving towards managing your extra-duty, and managing it with an electronic system are both very good steps, but to really get the maximum benefit out of doing so it is critical to use the same system to manage day-to-day scheduling and special events.

Trying to use two different systems can defeat the purpose. They will not communicate with each other, meaning that staff members could still be scheduled for too many hours, but at the agency’s fault now. Cross-checking the employee’s schedule with the secondary duty availability in two separate systems can actually produce errors and add work rather than reducing it.

It is critical to use the same system to manage day-to-day scheduling and special events

Some of the benefits of using an Integrated System:

  • Accountability for where all employees are at all times
  • Able to track total Overtime Hours worked and total Officer Pay
  • Manage Fatigue requirements and thresholds
  • Able to make informed scheduling decisions with complete knowledge of employee fatigue levels and overtime hours worked

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What to Expect:

1. Reduced Conflicts of Interest

Employee’s primary work hours are compromised by secondary duty and officers are often tempted to pay more attention to special details than their primary job. Using an integrated system with a rules-based allocation system, allows for a fair and equitable process of assigning extra-duty.

 2. Reduced Department Costs

Many departments find costs rise, and are not recouped, when staff work extra-duty shifts, whether in administrative management or in asset usage. An electronic system allows you to set thresholds for allowable extra-duty hours and proper reporting will enable you to identify where to cut down on costs.

 3. Minimize Employee Fatigue

When you are able to properly regulate off-duty hours, it becomes much easier to minimize employee fatigue.

4. Eliminate Double Booking

Employees could be double-booked when there is no oversight between their extra-duty assignments and regular scheduled hours. This can become even more problematic if officers are required for an emergency call-out.

5. Agency Liability

Employees accepting secondary duty opportunities may not have the right skills or training, which can lead to issues of department responsibility and liability. An electronic system allows you to regulate compliance and allocation.

Conclusion

It doesn’t matter how big or small your agency, every supervisor should be able to know where all their employees are at any given time. The only way to do this holistically and effectively is if you consider extra-duty. It is one of those rare situations where the old adage, “there are many ways to skin a cat,” does not actually apply. If you are not integrating your extra-duty and day-to-day scheduling then you could be costing your department heavily. An integrated schedule is going to allow your department to reduce overtime costs, have more alert employees and give you better overall accountability. The secret to managing extra-duty is not so secret…

Using InTime to manage Secondary Duty, I am able to have full accountability for all my officers and offer better customer service to clients requesting off-duty.
Chief Joey Reynolds, Bluffton PD