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Unpredictable and non-negotiable

Topics: Couples, Family, Mental Health

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.

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References for this page (click to expand)

1Thompson, A. J. (2012). Operational stress and the police marriage: A narrative study of police spouses:  https://open.library.ubc.ca/collections/24/items/1.0073056 

2Brodie, P. J., & Eppler, C. (2012). Exploration of perceived stressors, communication, and resilience in law-enforcement couples. Journal of Family Psychotherapy, 23(1), 20-41. https://doi.org/10.1080/08975353.2012.654082  

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

4Watkins, S. L., Shannon, M. A., Hurtado, D. A., Shea, S. A., & Bowles, N. P. (2021). Interactions between home, work, and sleep among firefighters. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 64(2), 137-148. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajim.23194  

Alrutz, A. S., Buetow, S., Cameron, L. D., & Huggard, P. K. (2020). What happens at work comes home. Healthcare (Basel), 8(3), 350. https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare8030350  

Carrico, C. P. (2012). A look inside firefighter families: A qualitative study. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.  

Friese, K. M. (2020). Cuffed together: A study on how law enforcement work impacts the officer’s spouse. International Journal of Police Science & Management, 22(4), 407-418. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461355720962527  

Hill, R., Sundin, E., & Winder, B. (2020). Work–family enrichment of firefighters: “satellite family members”, risk, trauma and family functioning. International Journal of Emergency Services, 9(3), 395-407. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJES-08-2019-0046  

Regehr, C., Dimitropoulos, G., Bright, E., George, S., & Henderson, J. (2005). Behind the brotherhood: Rewards and challenges for wives of firefighters. Family Relations, 54(3), 423-435. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-3729.2005.00328.x  

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