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Scheduling people in the Netherlands

John Poppelaars has started a blog entitled “OR at Work” about OR applications in practice. One of his posts is about employee scheduling, where a Dutch directive includes the following requirements:

In normal English the rule states that when an employee performs one or more resident on call duties, each period of 7 times 24 hours must contain at least 90 hours of compensatory rest. So far this is simple, we can easily add up all the rest periods an see if it matches the requested 90 hours. There are additional restrictions however on how the compensatory rest period is divided up over the 168 hours period. These restrictions state that there should be at least one period of 24 hours compensatory rest, four of at least 11 hours, one of at least 10 hours and finally one of at least 8 hours. 7 rest periods in total.

As John points out, such rules are really good for OR people: it makes things so complicated that only OR models have a chance of doing well. Of course, whether our own approaches work (let’s see, let x[10] be one if it is a ten hour rest, but not eleven, then x[10]= … hmmm… maybe a branch-and-price approach instead…) is a little unclear. But bring on complexity: the more people get frustrated, the more they need us!