Study on good staff scheduling and rostering practices in transport

Transport companies across nearly all transport modes face significant recruitment problems, particularly in relation to mobile staff. Since a better work-life balance is becoming increasingly important across all transport modes, optimising staff scheduling and rostering practices can help address this issue. This is one of the findings of our study on good staff scheduling and rostering practices in transport. We conducted the study for the European Commission, together with wmp consult.

The study identifies good staff scheduling and rostering practices in the transport sector and makes practical recommendations on how rostering systems can be improved. These good practices are identified based on a literature review, stakeholder interviews and surveys of social partners, companies and workers.


The study first develops a typology of the different sources of staff scheduling and rostering practices, which can be divided into four types:

  • based on social dialogue, collective agreements and co-determination;
  • driven by collective agreements at a range of levels;
  • state-centred with influence of collective agreements;
  • with little influence of collective bargaining, but some company-level worker representation and participation.

Good practices

The study then collected 41 current practices and clustered them according to specific type of practice. Following the critical appraisal of these practices, eight systems were selected as good practices, based on their sustainability, scalability and transferability. These systems are:

  • accommodating workers’ needs;
  • avoiding night shifts for certain groups;
  • national-level collective agreement in a particular transport sector on flexibility to workers regarding their working time and location of work;
  • preferential shift bidding (persons with whom a worker will be in a shift, ‘buddy system’);
  • preferential shift bidding (time allocation of shifts);
  • shift notice;
  • shift preference (location, as many nights as possible in the home base);
  • and swapping shifts.

From the lessons learnt from these practices, several practical recommendations are made to the European Commission, EU-level social partners, national governments, national social partners, employers and employers’ organisations and workers, and workers’ representatives on how to improve current arrangements in order to benefit companies and improve the work-life balance of workers.

For more information, read the full report (pdf).