schedule changed after I accepted job offer

A reader writes:

When interviewing for a position, the hiring manager told me that the position would entail four 10-hour shifts a week with three consecutive days off per week. He said the three days off per week would be determined by my department manager when the position begins. Shortly thereafter, I was offered the position and accepted. I emailed the hiring manager again just to double-check that I would be working four 10-hour days and he confirmed that would be my schedule.

I had a preference for a certain three days off (due to a potential part-time job that I did not mention). So I sent an email to the hiring manager asking if he might be able to pass my request along to the department manager. He passed the request along and I soon heard back from the department manager. He was very polite but said that the schedule would involve five eight-hour days in order to meet client needs.

Honestly, the four-day-a-week schedule was a pretty big factor in accepting the position. I had other offers that were more in-line with my training and experience (though the position I accepted did pay better). I am trying to decide if I should bring this issue up with the department manager. I don’t want him to resent me before he’s even met me (I start in a few weeks), but at the same time, I would expect a hiring manager to have the correct information and tell me the truth. I have a feeling that my bringing it up will not change the end result, but I do feel misled (though it was likely unintentional). Should I bring this issue up or should I just be quiet and grateful I have a job?

They do have the right to change your schedule (assuming it’s not written in a contract somewhere, which it doesn’t sound like it was). However, I’m assuming that the department manager doesn’t realize that you were told you’d work a specific schedule during the interviewing process, so the first thing you should do is explain that to him.

Often — not always, but often — when someone is acting in a way that seems unreasonable to you, it’s because you have information that they don’t have … or they have information that you don’t have. So the first step should always be to approach it from that angle.

Approach the department manager, politely but straightforwardly, with the assumption that he just wasn’t ever privy to those promises. Say something like this, “I’m so sorry to cause any difficulties, but Julie had told me that the schedule would be four days on and three days off. I actually double-checked with her again before accepting the position, since it was one of the (many) things that appealed to me about the offer. Is there any way to stick to that original plan, without causing problems?” (You might even include that email exchange when you say this.)

You could also go back to Julie and tell it there’s been some kind of miscommunication and ask how to proceed. (I’d pick just one of these avenues though, rather than doing both simultaneously.)

Now, it might turn out that Julie screwed up and that there’s no way the department manager can offer you that schedule. Maybe they used to do that and don’t anymore, or maybe some other department does it but his doesn’t. Who knows? And if that’s the case, then you’ll need to decide how big of a deal this is to you. Would you have accepted the offer if you’d never been promised the four-day schedule?

But you should definitely raise this and get more information, because it’s perfectly reasonable to inquire as to what happened to something you were promised during an offer negotiation. And do this quickly, because it’s such a reasonable thing to be concerned about that it becomes weird if you wait.

{ 12 comments… read them below }

  1. Wilton Businessman*

    Sounds like the hours were more attractive than the job. Honestly, is this really what you wanted?

    If the answer is yes, then do your 8×5 for a while and see what the corporate culture is. Maybe when you are first hired they do 8×5 and when you’re further along you can choose to do 10×4. After you’ve proven yourself, you can bring it up and ask if there is any possibility that you can go 10×4.

    If the answer is no, then politely decline the offer and move on.

    IMHO, you don’t want to get between your direct manager (I’m assuming the hiring manager) and the department manager (I’m assuming the direct manager’s manager).

  2. Anonymous*

    Is it just me but as soon as the department manager responded back that it was 8X5 I would have nicely explained what had been told to me during the interview process? It sounds like the department manager responded directly so why not ask at that time?

    I’m also curious how much time had passed between interviewing and accepting and the notification of the 5X8 instead of the 10X4? If it was only a short amount of time I’d be very concerned that such a crucial part of the job changed, it sounds like they didn’t really know what they were hiring for.

    1. JessB*

      I agree Anonymous! I sometimes feel like people ask Alison really simple questions that they could easily solve themselves by going to the relevent people at their work. It seems like people need her confirmation that they are behaving reasonably before they act.

      I would also have nicely explained what I’d been told when interviewing, and asked if the department manager knew anything about that. If they did, I’d ask how we could make that happen, and if they didn’t, I’d ask if they needed to talk to the hiring manager, or if we could work something out between us. It’s pretty straightforward! It’s your job now, own it.

      Good luck OP, I hope it works out for you.

  3. BennettPlusTwo*

    I work in an industry where schedules change on a regular basis and normally without notice (healthcare). Generally speaking, these employees have more than one job (normally they are working PT for the hospital and PT for us). If it were up to the employees to dictate their own schedules, they would be at the mercy of the company, which is why availability is determined IN ADVANCE.

    If you did not make your new employer aware of your ability in advance, then you really are at their mercy. I agree with AAM that if you did not inform the employer of your intentions, you can’t fault them for a change in the schedule.

    However, from an HR perspective, I’ve rescinded offers of employment because people have indicated that they had a full-time availability but then mentioned when we were trying to establish their schedules that they were not available on specific days due to either a part-time jobs or other commitments.

    I’m not trying to fault you, but you were not totally forthcoming with your new employer which is not a good way to start things off. I would take AAM’s advice and go to your direct report (not the hiring manager, who really has no control over your scheduling at this point). At that juncture you have the opportunity to accept the schedule as is, or elect not to work for that organization if the outcome is not as you expected.

    Good luck!

    1. Anonymous*

      I second this. It’s your responsibility to make it known to your potential employers that you have another commitment. A schedule change is unfortunate, but if you had been upfront they may have worked with you. I work 3 positions; one full-time, two part-time (weekends and evenings). Granted, I have the luxury of adjusting my hours as needed in the part-time position (tutoring and performing). Regardless, with each job interview I was honest about my busy schedule. Some interviewers were put off by this. But, I found some wonderful people to work with in each position because of my honesty.

      Long story short (too late!) – Hiding other commitments can create undue stress and stunt trust in working relationships.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Regardless of her interest in working a part-time job, I could see just being really excited about the chance to work a 10×4 schedule (simply to get a 3-day weekend) and could imagine that being a big part of what might sway someone to accept the offer. So part-time job or no part-time job, there’s clearly some kind of miscommunication going on within the org, because they’re offering things that they’re not then granting. (Although it’s possible they’ll grant it once she points this out.)

  4. Anonymous*

    She’s not “hiding other commitments” – she has a POTENTIAL part-time job lined up. And besides, even if she didn’t, and used that time to do something else (care for her kids, sculpt, whatever) it doesn’t matter. She accepted the job mostly because of the schedule offered. Now the schedule changed. She should absolutely bring this up, and right away. And if they won’t honor the schedule originally offered, then she has a decision to make.

  5. Charles*

    The op is at fault? Sorry, folks who are saying that; but I do not read it that way. “He said the three days off per week would be determined by my department manager when the position begins.” – what exactly does this sentence mean? Does it mean four day vs five days of working and 2 or 3 days off? or does it mean which three days off? I read that sentence to mean which three days.

    The OP said that she had a preference for which three days off; but did not say that she would hear later if it was working for 4 days or working for 5 days.

    So, The only fault I would place upon the OP is NOT speaking up IMMEDIATELY saying that she could NOT accept the job as the terms were different from what she was told.

    Hopefully, OP, you let them know that this 5-day schedule is NOT acceptable and that you could only work the 4-day schedule as told in the interview.

    Despite the tight job market; I would very carefully check out those other options that you have – these folks, for whatever reason, don’t seem to have the act together. If they aren’t even clear about how many days per week you will be working, then waht else are they not clear about?

    1. Anonymous*

      I agree, especially with your last paragraph. It’s like the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. The OP was told once in the interview about having 4 days on, 3 days off (maybe not in that order), and then her interviewer reaffirmed that schedule in an email. That’s where the blame should be unless the department manager did not notify a change with the interviewer. I’d ask the interviewer first, in a non-confrontational way, with the evidence; put the blame on yourself and say you are confused. Maybe the interviewer is out of the loop and can act as a liasion between himself and the department manager to put everything straight.

  6. clariisa*

    I have a similar issue. I agreed to change my schedule to work four days straight and have friday saturday and sunday off. it was approved, then two months later they said they had to change it again because the woman i switched with was mad she didnt get a sunday off and she was the one who stated she does not like to have sundays off…WTF? now the everyone has a memo stating that they are eliminating a position on a shift and that they want people to come in later to leave at ackward time and to come in earlier to leave later. they said we might have to work doubles to get our 80 hours and work two different shifts as well? I feel like it is not right at all. what should i do? i mean its a bunch of woman that hate each other and all everyone does is bash each other behind their backs to try and fire them. it is so stressful and i dont know how to take anymore of it. I feel like im going to have a nervous breakdown. please give some advice.

  7. Anonymous*

    Hi there,

    I really need quick guidance here.

    I have a meeting with the Director tomorrow at a place where I got a job recently.

    I am so excited about the job but think that I rushed to accept the salary offer and did not negotiate enough.

    I will be earning just a little less than what I am getting right now but the whole compensation package is better than what I get now.

    I am thinking though that had I negotiated to get what I get now, I could have although I already accepted the offer they gave me and negotiated for just a little increase. The Director I am meeting today was hesitant to give me that little increase bse it would get me close to the final step of the scale.

    I meet him tomorrow to sign my contract which the PA has already prepare I guess with the agreed amount. Can I renegotiate at this meeting to get what I am getting right now?

    Please advise,

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