The End of 9 to 5? How Work Schedules Are Changing

Is the traditional 9-to-5 workday obsolete? Many would say so. There seems to be a consensus among both employers and employees that a shift needs to be made in how the traditional workday is structured. The present-day model doesn’t really promote a healthy work-life balance or stimulate productivity. Too much of a routine can be dangerous. Longer, more rigid hours don’t always equal more work being done. Employees may be coming in for 40-hour weeks, but if they aren’t using that time wisely, then businesses actually lose out in the long run.

The History of the 9-to-5 Workday 

The idea of working from 9 to 5 is a product of socialism during the 19th century. It wasn’t until 1890 that the U.S. government started to track workers’ hours. Up until that point, employees could work up to 100 hours a week and there were no laws protecting children. In 1926, Ford Motors was one of the first companies to adapt the 9-to-5 model and helped to make it more mainstream. In 1938, the U.S. congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act, which made the workweek 44 hours. In 1940, it was readjusted to the five-day, 40-hour workweek that remains the basic standard today.

The Mindset of Millennials and Entrepreneurs

A 9-to-5 simply isn’t for everyone. If you feel trapped easily, especially sitting in a cubicle, dislike routine and/or mundane tasks, and have a problem with authority, then maybe a job in a more creative setting, or of an entrepreneurial nature, would suit you better. At the top of the list, millennials seem to feel the most dissatisfied with the traditional workday structure, placing greater importance on factors like flexibility, impactful or purposeful labour, and economic security. They’re also more willing to seek employment on their own terms and work freelance.

Structured Benefits

The 9-to-5 model does, however, have some major benefits. While some find the routine repetitive, others may find the predictability comforting. Stability and financial security are two of the main reasons many people in years past stayed at the same job for decades. A 9-to-5 job gives people a set schedule they can plan around, as opposed to shift work, where employees don’t always know what their upcoming schedule will look like from one week to the next.

The Possibility of a 4-Day Workweek

One alternative suggestion that’s been gathering support in recent years is for a “compressed” four-day workweek. Employees would work four 10-hour shifts instead of five eight-hour shifts, with Friday becoming a third day of the weekend. Experts have argued for and against it; some say that it would motivate employees to work harder, doesn’t disturb workflow, cuts down on time-consuming commutes (which in turn reduces workers’ spending on gas or transit), eases burnout risks, and promotes other activities. The counterarguments to the new working pattern are that longer standard workdays would be more draining and stressful, and a revamped workweek would potentially affect working parents, who have to deal with things like daycare services.

Our lives are much more than just our jobs. “Work to live, don’t live to work” is a common mantra. The 9-to-5 model may have worked in decades past, but times are changing. Our world is constantly evolving, and so is society. Thanks to recent advances in technology, many businesses can run from a home or out of a remote location. The traditional ways that most workplaces have run are quickly becoming a thing of the past, as the workweek becomes increasingly fluid.

At the end of the day, however, work schedules hardly matter if you have purpose in your life. Regardless of the time of day or week, the hours will fly by if you’re doing something you enjoy.

Rhea Braganza | Contributing Writer

Using Sick Days/Leave as Entitlement

During the course of an employee’s tenure, it is inevitable to miss a few days due to various reasons.  The Employment Standards Act provides guidelines in resolving labour disputes and protecting labour rights but does not contain provisions relating to sick leave. Entitlement is generally based on the companies’ discretion and internal policy.  Nevertheless, according to the Act, in Ontario, individuals who work for an organization with fifty or more workers are eligible to receive a maximum of ten days of unpaid personal emergency leave in cases which include personal illness, injury or medical emergency, need to care or urgent matters concerning family members.

On the other hand, the Canada Labour Code provides protection against dismissal, lay-off, suspension, demotion or disciplinary action because of absence due to illness or injury for individuals who have completed three consecutive months of employment for the same employer.  Furthermore, the Code contains the following guidelines:

  • An employee is protected for any absence not exceeding 17 weeks.
  • Sick leave may be combined with parental, compassionate care, critical illness or leave related to death or disappearance.
  • The Code provides job security only and not salary payments. However, you may be eligible to receive benefits under the Employment Insurance Act (EI).
  • Pension, health and disability benefits, and seniority continue to accumulate during the staff’s absence. Both parties are still required to pay their own shares in the benefit plan.  Nonpayment does not affect the employee’s status but if he/she doesn’t remit his/her contribution, the company is not obligated to pay its portion.


In spite of the lack of legislation, some of the best practices include:

  • When you are unable to report to work, notify your immediate supervisor as soon as possible in order for them to manage shifts and/or workloads.
  • If you have to be off for an extended period of time, inform your manager about your situation as well as when you are expected to return.
  • Be prepared to provide a medical or doctor’s note in the event that HR requests for one.
  • If you need accommodation, whether permanent or temporary, advise the company so that they can arrange your workload.


The approval of sick leave(s) depends on management’s judgment.  Nevertheless, employers can impose restrictions or conditions to such absences and in some cases chastise employees who abuse the system.  To minimize issues, organizations must devise a comprehensive policy which may include requiring absent staff to call within a specific period of time on each day of absence, disciplinary action if unexplained absence continues, exceptions (if any), or documentation required (medical certifications).  Furthermore, such rules must be consistently applied to everyone and the company should take a fair, reasonable and firm approach in administering the guidelines.

Reference:  Ministry of Labour (

Z. Ricafrente | DBPC Blog