What is RDO? Understanding Rostered Days Off and Their Impact on Projects in the US

Jackson Row
Jackson Row
April 26, 2024

America's capital projects are a testament to ambition and ingenuity – but let's be honest, they're also a grind. The pressure is relentless, and managing worker fatigue is a constant battle.  

Rostered Days Off (RDOs) are a powerful weapon in that fight. Think of them as more than just time off – they're proactive investments in a workforce that's sharp, safe, and ready to deliver. By strategically managing RDOs, you can protect your project's bottom line, minimize costly delays, and ensure a successful outcome.  

Here, we explore how to integrate RDOs effectively into capital project management and offer practical strategies for keeping your team at the top of their game.

Everyone deserves a day off. But how can you implement them without limping your operations?
Everyone deserves a day off. But how can you implement them without limping your operations?

What is RDO in US Project Management?

A Rostered Day Off (RDO) is a scheduled day when employees do not work, typically adding through extra hours worked in preceding periods. In the demanding environments of construction and capital projects, RDOs are essential for ensuring the physical and mental well-being of the workforce, as well as for keeping high productivity levels and meeting project deadlines.

The Impact of RDO on Client-Side Project Management

For asset owners, client-side project managers, and project management consultants, the strategic implementation of RDOs can deliver substantial benefits:

Enhanced Productivity: Teams with regular RDOs tend to have higher energy levels and can focus intensely on the job. This heightened productivity is crucial in meeting critical project milestones and delivering quality work consistently.

Improved Worker Satisfaction and Retention: RDOs are highly valued by employees, contributing significantly to job satisfaction. Higher satisfaction levels lead to lower staff turnover, which is beneficial as the continuity of experienced workers brings stability and reduces the costs associated with frequent recruitment and training.

Increased Safety: Well-rested workers are less likely to make errors that could lead to accidents. In the high-risk settings of construction sites, improving safety through fatigue management via RDOs protects their health and minimizes downtime due to injuries, promoting smoother project progression.

Regulatory Compliance and Reputation: Adhering to labor laws regarding RDOs ensures legal compliance and enhances the reputation of firms. Companies known for good labor practices are more attractive to potential clients and partners.

RDO Management Strategies

Effectively managing RDOs needs tailored strategies that align with project demands and workforce needs. Here are some targeted strategies for client-side project managers and consultants:

Proactive Planning: Integrate RDO schedules with the project's critical path to ensure that key project stages are not adversely affected. Planning should be dynamic, with the ability to adapt to project shifts without disrupting the workflow.

Transparent Communication: Maintain open lines of communication with all stakeholders about RDO policies and schedules. This transparency helps set realistic expectations and fosters a cooperative atmosphere across the project.

Utilizing Technology: Leverage project management software to track and manage RDOs effectively. These tools can help schedule RDOs aligning with project timelines and labor allocations, ensuring the best use of human resources.

Feedback and Adjustment: Regularly collect feedback from teams about the RDO schedule and its impact on their work and well-being. Use this feedback to make informed adjustments, enhancing RDO policies' effectiveness.

It's all hard labor in the construction industry. Giving employees a time off will help in their overall well-being and performance.
It's all hard labor in the construction industry. Giving employees a time off will help in their overall well-being and performance.

Where to Find Information on RDO Regulations in the United States

Navigating RDO regulations requires accessing reliable sources for accurate compliance:

Department of Labor (DOL)

  • Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA): Sets rules for minimum wage, overtime pay (crucial for extended shifts often seen with RDOs), record-keeping, and child labor standards.
  • Other Relevant DOL Regulations: Includes prevailing wages for government contracts (Davis-Bacon Act), family/medical leave, and worker safety (OSHA).

State Labor Departments

  • State-Specific Overtime Laws: States like California have daily overtime requirements in addition to weekly ones.
  • Rest Break Mandates: Some states require meal periods and rest breaks for employees working a certain number of consecutive hours.

Construction Industry Associations

  • Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs): Often outline work schedules, overtime rules, and RDO provisions in detail for unionized labor.
  • Industry Best Practices: Provide guidance on implementing RDO-style schedules effectively.

Company Policies

  • Internal Guidelines: Detail eligibility, accrual, and usage restrictions for RDO schedules within the company.

Key Regulatory Applications


  • Field vs. Office Roles: RDO schedules are more common for field personnel like superintendents and skilled trades, who work extended shifts on-site than office-based staff.
  • Remote Project Locations: RDOs are particularly prevalent in projects at remote locations where workers might stay on-site for extended durations, such as pipeline construction or mining operations.


  • Common Rotations: The "14 and 7" schedule (14 days on, 7 days off) is widespread in various construction sectors. Other rotations like "20 and 10" may also be used depending on the nature of the project.


  • Crew Changes: RDO scheduling is tightly integrated with crew rotations to ensure project continuity. For example, a two-week crew might have a staggered RDO to overlap with the incoming replacement crew.
  • Unforeseen Delays: Weather and material shortages might need changes to planned RDO schedules, potentially causing friction if not explicitly addressed in company policy or contracts.


  • Overtime Complexity: Construction projects often have extended workdays and weeks. Companies need meticulous systems to track hours, calculate overtime correctly, and ensure RDO days don't inadvertently become illegal "comp time."
  • Per Diem Considerations: Workers on remote projects may receive a per diem (daily allowance). The policy should clarify how this interacts with RDOs (if paid during days off).
Say no to employee burnout. Adhere to proper RDO compliance for everyone in your capital project.
Say no to employee burnout. Adhere to proper RDO compliance for everyone in your capital project.


Capital projects are a race against the clock. Deadlines loom, budgets are tight, and the pressure to deliver never disappears. In the scramble, it's easy to overlook the most important asset: your people.  

Rostered Days Off (RDOs) is an investment in your team – a strategic way to combat burnout, minimize safety lapses, and keep your project on track. Think beyond compliance regulations: RDOs are a competitive advantage, allowing you to build a more resilient workforce and consistently achieve superior outcomes.  

Take control of every step in your Capital Project lifecycle