Dolly Parton may have had a hit with “9 to 5,” but if a Houston singer had written the song, it may have been “5 to 9” or “9 to 5 one week, 1 to 9” the next.  That is because a surprisingly large portion of Houston’s working population is involved in shift work. 

Shift work refers to any type of employment practice that uses workers in shifts, to provide the same services.  Shift work may occur in businesses that provide 24 hour continuous services, or require 24-hour continuous operation or observation, but may also occur in businesses that operate beyond standard working hours.  Chemical plants, hospitals, grocery stores, fast food restaurants, and truck stops are just some examples of places where people work in shifts around the clock.

In companies that employ shift work, there will be set periods of time when employees come and go, so that a new set of employees will take over when the old set gets off of work.  Usually, later shifts or night shifts pay more money, and shift work usually offers the opportunity to pick up overtime, but there are some downsides to working the night shift, such as difficulties sleeping during the day and a lack of public transportation. 

Despite these difficulties, many families rely on at least one shift worker to support them.

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