Explaining Shift Differential for CNAs

Shift differential is offered at many long-term care centers that employ Certified Nursing Assistants. It is a measure designed to provide workers with extra compensation for working unusual or inconvenient hours. The policies vary between most employers, but a general understanding of shift differential will help you make the most out of your job.

Who gets Shift Differential? 

Shift differential is offered to CNAs that work outside of the usual day shift hours, generally from 7AM to 5PM. If an employee has hours in the evening, late night, or early morning, these hours would apply to shift differential compensation. Sometimes it is also applied to weekend shifts at any hour.

Many employers use this administrative strategy to attract more workers for the hours that are not desirable for most people’s schedules. The night shift gets the most benefit from shift differential because all of their hours fall outside of the standard work day. That being said, there are also some employers that offer the differential to their evening shift workers, though only some of the hours will qualify for the extra pay.

Some employers also use differential to designate a temporary job function that has increased responsibility. For example, if a CNA floor supervisor is on an extended vacation, the CNA that fills in for the supervisor may receive additional wages according to their new temporary position.

How much Extra Pay?

The policy varies between employers. On average, the range of extra pay is 5-15% of the regular hourly wage. The more generous additions are given to workers with greater experience or under specific agreements to satisfy urgent workplace demands. If the differential is offered simply for the unusual hours, it will most likely be lower than if it is offered for a position of increased responsibility.

Where is it Offered?

There are fewer types of employers that will offer shift differentials to CNAs because of changing labor practices in the past 10 years. The best places to look will still be at long-term care centers like nursing homes, rehabilitation institutes, and other types of healthcare institutions. Hospitals are still one of the main places to find shift differentials for CNAs because they have greater funding to provide for staffing needs. Licensed nurses are often the most common recipients of shift differentials because of their increased responsibilities and on-the-job stress experienced during late night shifts. You can easily find out whether a facility offers shift differential when applying for a job.

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