What Is a per Diem Shift?

What Is a per Diem Shift?

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You are looking for a job and come across the phrase “per diem shift” in the job posting. “Per diem” derives from the Latin phrase meaning “for each day,” – but what does a per diem shift mean? And how does it work for you?

A per diem shift is a work schedule that depends on the employer’s needs and the employee’s preferred workload. A per diem employee’s pay rate may be higher than part-time or full-time employees, but they are not eligible to receive company benefits.

This article will discuss how per diem shifts work, the advantages and disadvantages of working per diem shifts, and the jobs that offer this type of shift.

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How Do Per Diem Shifts Work?

There are instances where businesses are required to pool additional resources to meet the demands of their day-to-day operations, like understaffing due to attrition or completing a vast amount of work during a peak season.

A per diem shift denotes temporary employment on an as-needed basis. An employee under this setup gets paid on a day-to-day basis, and his work schedule varies depending on business needs. Job responsibilities are negotiated between the employee and the employer before the work commences.

These employees do not have a fixed schedule or guaranteed hours compared to full-time or part-time employees. Companies may need them today but not in the following days. However, per diem employees do not have a limit on the number of hours they can work, provided this is consistent with the company’s policy concerning work hours. Per diem employees can also choose if they will work on a day shift or a night shift.

They may also receive higher hourly rates than permanent employees but are ineligible to receive benefits afforded to regular or part-time employees like paid vacation leaves, company-sponsored healthcare plans, or company retirement benefits.

Difference Between Per Diem Employees and Independent Contractors

Some may think that per diem employees and independent contractors are the same. But the difference lies in how they are paid and how they file their taxes.

Whether part-time, full-time, or paid per diem, employees have their taxes withheld and receive W-2 forms. Independent contractors are not counted as employees and receive 1099 forms.

Although per diem employees are ineligible to receive benefits given to regular or part-time employees, they are entitled to receive overtime pay and the minimum wage set in the state where they work. Independent contractors, however, only receive a fixed amount for services rendered.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Working Per Diem Shifts?

Now that you know how per diem shifts work, you may have thought about the benefits and stumbling blocks of working per diem shifts. Let’s discuss the pros and cons.

The pros of working per diem shifts include flexibility, a better work-life balance, and higher pay. The cons include little to no benefits, no guaranteed income, and an inconsistent schedule.


  • Flexibility: per diem shifts offer flexibility to employees who wish to work with multiple employers or want to try a workplace before fully committing to work with a company.
  • Work-life balance: employees working per diem shifts have a say in their schedule compared to regular or part-time workers who are required to work on the stipulated hours.
  • Higher pay: per diem employees can earn additional income as they are paid higher per hour wages than regular or part-time workers.


  • Little to no benefits: companies are not required to provide benefits such as healthcare or retirement plans to these workers because they are not working full time for them.
  • No guaranteed income: because they are employed on an as-needed basis, per diem employees are only paid for their daily work hours compared to regular or part-time employees with a fixed schedule.
  • Inconsistent schedules: since they work on an as-needed basis, their work schedule might differ. Their schedule also depends on the amount of work needed within the day or week.

Which Jobs Offer Per Diem Shifts?

Several companies offer per diem shifts to help them meet the demands of their work. The most common industries that provide this type of employment are education, healthcare, logistics, construction, and media.

Here are some jobs that offer per diem shifts:

  • Healthcare workers: these include nurses, pharmacists, and nursing assistants who are being enlisted to cover shifts when there is understaffing or an increase in the number of patients in a medical facility.
  • Teachers: school districts and individual schools employ substitute teachers on a per diem shift to cover teacher absences.
  • Warehouse workers: companies involved in logistics hire additional workers paid per diem to cover a higher intake of items transported to their warehouses.
  • Delivery people: similar to warehouse workers, logistics firms offer per diem shifts to cover more deliveries than usual. This is common during a holiday season such as Christmas or Thanksgiving.
  • Construction workers: per diem workers are employed to assist in expediting a building project’s completion.
  • Reporters: media companies and newspapers hire per diem reporters to provide additional material or coverage to monitor important events like elections, natural disasters, or sports competitions.


A per diem shift is a type of temporary employment offered by businesses to help them ease the amount of workload they have.

It can be an opportunity for those who wish to earn additional income, want flexibility in their work hours, or maintain a work-life balance. However, it has disadvantages regarding the consistency of schedule and pay.