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Nonstandard schedules: Unpredictable and non-negotiable

Most sectors of PSP require workers to rotate shifts so that these essential services are available 24/7. Factors such as critical incidents and staff shortages also require PSP to be on-call and available at short notice. These aspects of the job are often non-negotiable and unpredictable, which impacts personal relationships and family life.

Some PSP families have identified the benefits of nonstandard work at different stages of family life. Long work shifts can mean that PSP are also off work for longer periods in between shifts and can spend time with their families.1 However, unexpected changes to work schedules can also cause havoc with family routines and conflict with family commitments such as childcare. This can put pressure on SSOs and other family members to adjust and take on added responsibilities.

Consequences of non-negotiable schedules

The PSP nonstandard schedule may reduce the amount of time families spend together, including special occasions, as well as, opportunities to socialize. Unpredictable and non-negotiable schedules create challenges. It is hard for PSP families to look forward to events knowing that their plans could be changed with a moment’s notice.


Being part of public safety, most PSP will find themselves working weekends and holidays at some point. This nonstandard schedule puts the PSP and family out of sync with extended family, friends, and the larger community. In addition to rotating schedules, a requirement of the PSP job may include mandatory overtime and short notice call-ins. These irregular hours of work can interfere with family time, getting together with friends, and participation in the community. The effects of desynchronization impact the PSP, their families, and their social circles.

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References for this page (click to expand)

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3Regehr, C. (2005). Bringing the trauma home: Spouses of paramedics. Journal of Loss & Trauma, 10(2), 97-114. https://doi.org/10.1080/15325020590908812  

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