my new store manager is mismanaging our schedule

A reader writes:

I work in fast food, and I’ve worked at this branch for nearly a year and a half, totalling five years. We have a new manager who’s been here since September/October and she’s in charge of the schedule for the week which has to be done on a weekly basis. Recently (within the last 2 months) the schedule has been done late, and when I say late, I mean its posted online on a Sunday sometime in the evening. I don’t work weekends, only Monday to Friday, with some of my requests for days off being ignored. We have a book to request days off, and it isn’t being used by this new manager.

This is becoming an inconvenience, stressful and makes me not want to turn up to work, especially on Mondays because it’s so last minute. My absent list will be long due to not working shifts I should not have been scheduled for. I want to leave because instead of having the knowledge of what days I’m working before I relax on my weekend, I’m too busy worrying about what time I have to get up on Monday to get to work and Sunday becomes the weekly “I don’t want to go work tomorrow.”

More recently, the manager went on holiday for a week and did not delegate her task of the schedule to the most senior manager. Who asked about the schedule during the week, to which the manager replied that she’d do it on Saturday. But why when there’s someone who’s quite capable?

I know that publishing the schedule can sometimes be last-minute if things get hectic, but it’s been weeks now with no improvement. Should I tackle my manager on her lack of consideration and failure to notice requests? And if so what’s the best way to go about it?

Your manager sucks.

I’d start by talking to her directly and explaining the problem: “Jane, is it possible to have the schedule completed no later than Friday? Traditionally, it’s always been done by then, and I need to be able to plan my schedule for the coming week. When it’s not posted until Sunday night, I often have no idea until the night before whether I’ll need to be at work, or what time off I’ll have in the coming week.”

You should also address the fact that she’s not using the book where days off are requested: “Is there a different way you’d like us to request days off? I’ve been putting them in the days-off book, but I’m not sure that’s still being consulted. What’s the best way for me to let you know about those requests, so that I don’t end up being scheduled on a day I’m not available?”

If that doesn’t change anything, then you can consider escalating it to your regional manager or whoever her manager is. A good manager will want to know that this is going on so that she can intervene and get it fixed. However, if her manager is not a good manager, then this might not accomplish anything.

Based on my understanding of how fast food often works, none of this might get you results. But it’s certainly the professional way to approach it. If it doesn’t work, then at that point you’d need to decide whether you want to keep the job under these terms, or go somewhere else.

{ 79 comments… read them below }

  1. VintageLydia*

    I had this issue at my retail job. After going back and forth with my store manager for a month, he eventually delegated making the schedule for my department to me (I was the most senior in that dept. and was speaking for pretty much everyone.) I think he wanted to make a point about how difficult it was to accommodate everyone’s days off and have the coverage we needed while staying within hours. I don’t think he intended me to do it for more than a weIk or two. A month tops. Too bad for him, I _was_ better at writing it, giving us coverage, accommodating time off, staying in hours, and making sure it was done far enough in advanced. I ended up doing it for about a year until they changed the scheduling system entirely.
    It doesn’t sound like you want to take the responsibility for yourself, but I just want to empathize with you. It’s extremely stressful when your shifts are constantly changing and days you really want or need off are ignored for what seems like no reason.

    1. Lisa*

      I once worked at Home Depot. My manager would do the schedule a week or 2 in advance, then suddenly change it and add me at the last minute. Say I worked Sunday, and checked to see when my next day was in the book. It says Wednesday. So I am thinking I have off Monday and Tuesday. At some point on Monday, I would be added to the Tuesday schedule. I would have no reason to call and ask if I was working Tuesday, so guess who ends up with a dozen no-shows on my file. She did this on purpose to me, and I was pissed. I called her on it, and she was like well you really need to come in and check the book daily or call. So I would call, and ask whoever was nearest the book to check. I was getting around her, and showing up when she expected me to no-show. Then suddenly the book is locked up, and you must come in and request to look at the book. So I sneakily called a friend, asked if the book was locked up. It was, and my manager was on duty. I called again and asked to speak to another manager (higher up), claimed that I couldn’t get a hole of my manager and asked him to look at my schedule in the book. He was like ‘sure- hold on’, went to the book area, couldnt find it, was told by a co-worker that our manager locks it up and then we need to track her down. Thought it was odd, so got back on the phone with me. Its locked up, don’t have akey, but you were just here yesterday don’t you have your weekly schedule written down? I responded, yes but my manager has been rearranging my schedule and says that I must call or come in to check the book daily so that I avoid being labeled a no-show. Asked others if they too had to do that, and two people said no ‘only lisa’s schedule is changed daily’. He was livid. Bitched out my manager for a) locking up the book so no one but her had access to it and b) arbitrarily changing my schedule so that I wouldn’t know when I was working and giving me no-show demerits for days that were schedule the day of. Which was confirmed by another manager that had a photocopy of the schedule from the previous day, and it showed me not working Tuesday, but then today (tuesday) says I was scheduled to work.

      1. Adam V*

        Wow. What a horrible situation to be in.

        At least after that happened, the higher-up manager would know that your manager had a history of treating you badly, and it sounds like he’d have been receptive to interceding in any future incidents.

        What was the final resolution? You quit? Manager was fired?

        1. Mike C.*

          I hate hate to pull this, but aren’t there, let’s say “firm rules enforced by a government body” which govern how schedules should be posted/how often/how prior notice at jobs like these?

          I’m pretty sure there are state rules, but it doesn’t seem right for an employer to say, “You aren’t working the next three days”, put you on the schedule anyway, then fire you for cause. If nothing else, it would be a great way to avoid paying out for unemployment, which I realize is a state by state issue.

      2. Jamie*

        Wow – that’s brutal. Like life isn’t tough enough sometimes without people screwing with you others just for sport.

        I’m really glad the other manager had your back – but maintaining civility through all that makes you a far better person than I.

        What is wrong with some people??

        1. Lisa*

          She found other ways to dig at me. I don’t get it, but I think it was after I finished college, and ended up at home depot. She was a career home depot employee destined to stay a low level manager for life. She had some resentment toward those of us working there for a paycheck til we found better jobs, I was there 1.5 years til I got an office gig. In 2003, she had already worked there for 10 years. I go back to that store, and she is still there. So are others, but most moved up to being dept managers or asst managers, she is still a cashier lead which to me is depressing. going on 20 years and she was only making $15 in 2003, with only 20 cent raises per year, yuck. I am at $75,000 … hehe … retail revenge.

          1. Grey*

            Yuck? Judging people by their occupations, and measuring their quality of life against their salary is rather arrogant. A bigger paycheck does not make you a better person.

            That comment implies that I must be unsuccessful or live a sad life because I didn’t move up the corporate ladder and don’t make nearly as much as you do. I happen to like my job and choose to stay where I am. Money won’t buy my happiness.

            1. Jenn*

              I’m pretty sure her “yuck” was in reference to getting a twenty-cent annual raise. And she isn’t judging the woman by her occupation, but the horrible, vindictive was she was being managed.

              You really need to read comments more carefully.

              1. Grey*

                I read it again and still have the same impression. Why else finish it with mention of your own salary, and a laugh?

                1. -X-*

                  It might not make you a better person, but certainly can be a sign of it.

                  In this case it sounds like it is – vindictive bad manager doesn’t move up, while other people did.

                2. Jamie*

                  I dont think salary has anything to do with making someone a better person.

                  But I read Lisa’s post as a pretty human sentiment. Someone deliberately and vindictively make her work life a nightmare…on purpose. Being proud of success in comparison is understandable. It may not be the kindest sentiment, but I think it’s a not uncommon response to being targetted.

                  I think for every person who goes to a high school reunion because they sincerely want to see everyone and catch up there are probably 2+ who are there to show some jerks how well they’ve done for themselves.

                  Again, it’s not nice, but understandable IMO.

                  But no ones profession or salary is any indication of their personal quality. I know people who make more money than I will ever see and there’s not one of them I think are inherently better than me…no matter what they may think.

                3. Tiff*

                  That woman tried to keep Lisa under her thumb and make her life miserable. Lisa “won” because she is more successful and the vindictive “manager” is still at the barely-bottom.

                  Yep, that sure does count as a win in my book! Been there, done that, didn’t feel guilty at all. I didn’t stoop to the level of the manager who really had it in for me, I took the energy from my anger and hurt feelings and put a lot more effort into my skill development and job search. The real win was getting a job I’m happy at to this day. Her being fired was just icing on the cake. Man, she was a horrible person.

                4. Lisa*

                  Ok, I am sorry. I ended up being negative in response to the negativity that came from my manager. And yea the salary thing was uncalled for, and no reason to mention it. I am happy and I do equate happiness with less worry about money. There were other cashier leads that loved their jobs, weren’t mean, treated people kindly, and still work there and they are happy. I never meant to make it sound like I am better than her, but SHE definitely tried to make me feel and like a horrible guilty traitor for going to college and wanting more for myself than retail for 20 years and she did it in a vindictive way in the only way she could control me with the schedule.

  2. fposte*

    No help for the OP, but I think this is an object lesson in how much management counts in places like this where pay doesn’t compensate for much misery. This is long-term satisfied and reliable employee who now doesn’t want to go to work. That’s unnecessary and avoidable.

  3. Coelura*

    This seems to be the norm in retail & fast food – all of my kids have gotten their schedules on Sunday afternoon or evening. They find it very frustrating because they don’t know if they work on Monday until Sunday evening. Sometimes they even have to call up to work to get someone to read it to them over the phone. One of the many reasons turnover tends to be high in retail & fast food establishments.

    1. Jamie*

      When my daughter was hired at a place famous for golden arches, she was hired after a < 10 minute interview and told she was starting the next week and someone would call her the next day to schedule orientation.

      Next day nothing so she calls them. Oh so and so will call you back in an hour. Nothing. Calls the next day – so and so will call you at 3:00. Nothing. Calls back at 4:00 and he's gone.

      Anyway someone FINALLY answered her question about when her orientation was at 7:00 pm on a Sunday night. Her orientation was 10:00 am the next morning. Seriously – what a cluster of a hiring process – they should be embarrassed. This is her first real job and this was really frustrating for her as they told her she was hired, but then kept blowing her off about a start date. So much unnecessary anxiety.

      She still gets her schedule Sunday nights but she loves it there – so sometimes it is just a crappy hiring process. She likes most of her managers except the one who points right in your face for emphasis – who does that?

      It's cute – she's such a people person she comes home with stories about all of her favorite regulars and some senior citizens have even made a point to tell her manager how much they love her. She knows all about their dog and grandkids, etc. She really loves the interaction.

      My son on the other hand does a great job at another place and he's polite and sticks to the script – but lets just say he's not a big fan of the general public. That hiring process and scheduling is excellent and totally buttoned up. Maybe because the manager is also the store owner so she's a little more vested?

      She (the manager) goes on about him all the time how remarkable it is he's never called in sick or been late. He's only been there since July – and as he says "you don't make money turning down shifts."

      1. Jamie*

        In writing this I just realized – it’s the whole introvert/extrovert thing.

        If my daughter is has no work/school she has to go out somewhere with friends or she gets so cranky.

        The days my son has school and work he won’t even answer his phone when he gets home because he doesn’t want to talk to one more person – except me – and after a quick vent to me about how customers suck he puts headphones on alone until he can sleep.

        They are like poster children for being energized/depleted from interaction.

        1. Tiff*

          I was thinking the same thing about your introver/extrovert kids. My brother and I are the same way…or at least we were 15 yrs ago. I was the extrovert, he was the introvert. Now I think we’ve sort of switched – I notice he’s much more social now, and I’m swamped with work, home and kids so my idea of relaxation is anywhere I can be comfortably ALONE. ha!

      2. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        My little sister was hired at a golden arches location, had a similar runaround, and never actually started.

  4. Aggie*

    I doubt you’re the only employee dealing with this at your job. Have you spoken with your co-workers about scheduling issues? Maybe speaking with your manager as a group, or submitting a group complaint, will get results faster. Of course, this may totally piss off your manager and raise a red flag for senior management, but your right to engage in collective activity to improve working conditions is protected by law:

  5. KarenT*

    I’d look into the laws in your state. Where I am (which is not the US, so this may not apply), nonexempt employees are entitled by law to 48 hours notice before a scheduled shift. This doesn’t mean they can’t call you and ask you to come in if someone else calls in sick, etc., but it does mean for regular shifts the schedule most go up 2 days in advance.
    Having spent a few years in retail, it’s been my experience that doing the schedule is one of the biggest challenges for a new manager. I’ve done it, and it’s harder than it seems. You have to have coverage in every area, without going over the number of hours allocated by head office, and working around each individuals availability and vacations, and checking against store promotions to ensure extra coverage on big sale days, etc. This problem might get better as your store manager settles in. Telling her how this is impacting you might make this a higher priority. Also, if she really sucks at doing the schedule or hates it, she could delegate it to a capable assistant manager or other senior employee.

    1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      Oh! I meant to mention this as well. While it’s seldom helpful to bring the legal angle, many states have scheduling requirements like that.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Hmm, I’m finding nothing. The only thing I found was a question about it on a legal forum, where the moderator also says she can’t find any such law ( In fact, I’m not finding anything like this for any state, which is unusual if there are such laws — usually they’d come up through searching. Any chance you’re mis-remembering (or someone told you it was a legal requirement but it wasn’t)?

        1. twentymilehike*

          I’m wondering if this isn’t something that’s listed on those notices that companies are required to post on-site? I worked at a retail store for a few years and we had ours posted in our break room, so I ended up reading it while eating lunch a few times. I learned a lot that I didn’t know, and ended up bringing it up to management, because our company had a few violations under their belt.

          Years later I received a notice that there was a class-action lawsuit against the company for many of my same complaints. It was nice to know something was being done.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            That should be showing up in my search though, if it’s a law anywhere, and I’m finding nothing. That doesn’t mean that no state has it as a law, but it would be the first time that my usual methods of searching didn’t produce at least something about it … which is why I’m wondering if maybe Kim is misremembering.

            1. Anonymous*

              What about the employee handbook? I know it’s not law, but if it’s in the employee handbook that employees receive 48/72 hours notice, her manager should be honoring that. If this is a retail chain, her manager would face consequences for not fulfilling that obligation.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Yes, if it’s in the handbook, the OP should definitely point that out to the manager and explain it’s company policy. The manager might or might not face consequences from her own manager for not honoring that (particularly if the wording in the handbook isn’t binding, which it often isn’t — employers generally prefer not to tie themselves down to binding wording if they don’t need to), but it certainly gives her a bit more ground to stand on. (Although she shouldn’t need it, of course; the manager should respond to reasonable requests.)

              2. Jamie*

                Really good point – a lot of people have far greater protections in their handbook than the law requires.

                1. KarenT*

                  I’m the anonymous above (forgot to type in my screen name; not attempting stealth).
                  I’m picturing a non-confrontational mentioning of the handbook, (especially if this is a retail chain as they enforce their rules seriously for parity reasons).

                  “Hey, Jane. We usually get our schedules on Saturday, but the employee handbook says we are supposed to get them on Wednesday. Can we start getting ours on Wednesday?’ I think Jane’s response will tell you whether or not you’ve got a bigger problem on your hands.
                  Good response: “I’m sorry–retail near Christmas is insane and I haven’t had much time. Going forward I’ll have the schedule for Wednesday.”
                  Bad response: “I’m too busy for this. You’ll get your schedule when you get it.”

              1. KarenT*

                We definitely have it in Canada (where I am) and I also saw references for it in Australia, the UK and other countries, but I couldn’t find anything for the US.

              2. Mike C.*

                Not in WA either, and I was certain there was a minimum notice period and there isn’t. They don’t even have to tell you that your schedule has changed. What a load of crap.

                1. ARS*

                  The thing is that there may not be a law, but I’m pretty sure if you were fired and applied for Benefits, you would be covered. It’s reasonable that if you’re given two days off in a row, you would not call in to see if your schedule has changed; they would be required to notify you if that were the case. I live in Oregon and I know this had happened to people I knew and they weren’t held at fault for not showing up to a shift that wasn’t on the books when they left work the previous day.

    2. class factotum*

      I am thinking this is a huge business opportunity – to write software for scheduling. It’s just a simple management science program, with inputs and constraints and objectives. (I loved that class.)

      1. John Quincy Adding Machine*

        It’s been a goal of mine for years to write a simple scheduling program. Every time I run into a manager that forgets to put enough people on, ignores a time off request, or can’t get a schedule out more than 24 hours before the end of a week, this crosses my mind. Maybe this year will be the year I finally do it…

        1. Not So NewReader*

          The problem is that many managers do not have a computer at work. Many of these schedules are hand written. All the requests for time off become staggering, very difficult to process.

          On the other hand, I have seen scheduling programs that put breaks in according to the laws. (15 mins for four hour shifts; 1-15 minute plus 30 minute for six hour shifts and so on.) The programs would assign a lunch to an employee that had been working for an hour and a half. That employee was assigned to work eight hours that day. Lunch after 90 minutes of work is sooo not good.

          1. Schnauz*

            Yeah, they had to change our scheduling software at work for just those reasons. Now, breaks are not supposed to appear within 2 hours of your start/end time. Of course, that’s assuming we’re not so busy you just don’t get any scheduled breaks at all. (which is not to say you don’t get a break, but they’re not built into your schedule)

      2. AB*

        I’ve thought about that too, and I know there are some scheduling software available already in some fields like health care.

        However, the problem I see with this business opportunity is that it solves a problem for the employees (not having to wait until the last minute to be informed of their shifts) and a bit for the manager (if they don’t like the “power” that comes with assigning shifts — crazily enough, some do), but not necessarily for the budget owner, who may think it’s just an additional expense without much benefit*.

        *For narrow-minded executives, that is, who don’t care about employee satisfaction/retention. If shifts are covered anyway, there isn’t much incentive for them to pay a service or software to make the process better.

        1. Schnauz*

          I think one of the big advantages would be more efficient time management for their managers. If it takes them 2 hours to do the schedule every week and software can take it down to 10-30 min, then you are gaining back time your manager could use to make you more money or save you money by soothing more irate customers.

      3. Tasha*

        Actually as evil as it is, Wal-mart has a really great scheduling software. I don’t what they use but it can manage hundreds of employees with different scheduled about 3 weeks at a time and incorporate requests for days off (which then get approved by a manager). I hated working there but it was so nice to know what my scheduled was for almost a month at a time.

        1. VintageLydia*

          The software my former job used was TERRIBLE. My manager would spend a day finagling the program to get it to work correctly every week. It would constantly schedule some people only 3 hours a week or high schoolers during the school days (even though the availability was inputted correctly) ignore requests off even if we had the coverage, schedule lunch breaks 30 minutes into a 10 hour shift, etc. It’s awful.

  6. Kimberlee, Esq.*

    I agree with Alison that the first step is to ask the manager 1) if the schedule can possibly be done earlier, so people know a bit in advance, and 2) how people should submit requests for time off. You definitely can’t expect a new manager to know there’s a problem unless you say something (it could be that she’s done schedules on the weekend at her previous gig and it wasn’t a problem).

    Though I think it’s important to keep in mind that she could be doing the late scheduling on purpose. After all, it’s hard to balance between “posting on Sunday night is too late and I need to know my schedule more in advance of that,” and “My work posts the schedule too early so I have to plan everything I do 2 weeks (or a month, or whatever) in advance to be able to schedule time off.”

    Are other people having all their time off requests ignored as well, or is it really a matter of not being able to accommodate everyone’s time off requests? If you’re just not getting the days you used to get, then it could just be that those aren’t the days the new manager wants to give you. Schedule change-ups happen when management changes (as I’m sure your experience has told you), and a new manager typically doesn’t like to come into a new situation with a laundry list of “Jamie always gets Mondays off, and Sarah has to be out by 5 every Thursday, and Kevin…” etc. A good manager will do their best to accommodate those scheduling things, but good managers are hard to come by in fast food, and even the best manager can’t accommodate everything.

    1. Jamie*

      I know management can change schedules at any time, but particularly in fast food I would think doing that without a discussion with the employee would be counter productive.

      I have two teenagers who work in different fast food establishments, one in high school and the other in college. Management knew their availability when hired, so if they were to all of a sudden start scheduling to conflict with classes – when that had been accommodated before – I can’t imagine that not being preceded with a conversation about how this change is happening and they can either accept the new terms or leave.

      So I would think if this were a schedule change due to a change in management it’s rude to not at least let people know they won’t be accommodating whatever anymore.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        Eh, I think that people overestimate the amount that “conversations” happen in fast food. :) Especially in the case of classes, if a new manager comes in, they might not even know that there is a class schedule to accommodate… often, previous managers don’t leave notes about that sort of thing.

        I imagine the conversation would happen when one of your teenagers sees that they’ve been scheduled already over one of their classes. From there… it just depends. In my experience, new managers don’t like the “But Susan promised you guys could schedule me around my classes when she hired me!” All bets are off when management changes.

        Not saying it *should* happen that way, but it does, and with 200 applications from desperate people sitting in the drawer, there’s just not that much incentive for food service/retail to accommodate requests. Losing OP and her 5 years experience would be a blow, but losing students is not as much. :(

        1. Jamie*

          Oh I’m sure you’re 100% right – I guess I just think when people show up regularly, don’t call in, and do a good job they deserve to be told if their schedule would change in a way that would cost them their job.

          It’s that whole perfect world that I want to live in, but can’t seem to locate.

          1. Laura L*

            “It’s that whole perfect world that I want to live in, but can’t seem to locate.”

            I’m going to start using this!

        2. twentymilehike*

          “But Susan promised you guys could schedule me around my classes when she hired me!” All bets are off when management changes.

          Is that really true, though? When I worked in retail, we submit our availability upon hire, and whoever ended up being our manager was given a copy of our availability. Even when my manager changed, my availabilty was kept the same, because it was in writing (along with the rest of the staff) in the schedule book. They had this info for every employee and basically it was set in stone unless you asked to have it changed and management was okay with that. I was fortunate enough to have good managers that were accommdating of my class schedule, but I honestly tried to keep my class schedule similar each semester so it wouldn’t be an issue.

          1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

            I think that you must have worked at a more employee-friendly place than I ever have. :) Also, I think that you mention there being a schedule “book” is telling… I think that when these things were/are done on paper, it’s easier to keep availability notes all in one place. The place I worked at most recently had a schedule program, so it was up to the manager to keep track of notes about days off. And those often disappeared once the accommodations were memorized.

            1. twentymilehike*

              The place I worked at most recently had a schedule program, so it was up to the manager to keep track of notes about days off.

              Ah, yes … I could see that being an issue. Scheduling processes can tell you a lot about a company and/or a manager’s organization and attentiveness! I did have a really great manager for a long time. He’s still there and we still keep in touch after nearly ten years and he still provides a great reference for me :)

              A great manager is golden.

        3. Lily*

          The problem with Jack saying “But Susan promised you guys could schedule me around my classes when she hired me!” is not just that new managers don’t feel bound by the old manager’s promises, it is also that Jack may be lying and even if he isn’t, his colleagues may try to take advantage of the situation and claim promises which weren’t.

          If you think someone promised you something, send an email summarizing it, at least!

  7. Jubilance*

    Can you talk to the overall store manager? Its possible that they aren’t even aware this is going on. Also, if your location is corporate-owned instead of a franchise, you may be able to let Corporate know as well. If your attempts to reach out don’t work, then you seriously have to consider if you’re ready to look for a new job.

  8. Julie*

    No real help to the OP, but I just wanted to say I feel your pain. When I worked for a summer at a grocery store as a cashier, our workweek was Sunday to Saturday, and the schedules would only come out Friday afternoon. So I never knew until Friday afternoon whether I was working on Sunday, and thus whether I could go away for the weekend. (Almost invariably, as the newest employee, I was scheduled for Sunday. But I held out hope anyway.)

    Of course, I had plenty of other scheduling problems with that job, some of which were actually illegal practices, but I was young enough that I didn’t realize it at the time, and temporary enough that I didn’t want to get into the hassle of confronting The Man ™ on doing anything about it.

    But I feel your pain…

    1. Editor*

      I have been amazed by some grocery stores and the way they do their schedules. There was one very large grocery store where I shopped regularly that employed a lot of teens who were still in high school. Every couple of months I’d overhear a conversation about how some teen had just started with the store and was hired to work part-time, only to be scheduled for a full 40 hours the first week of work at a time when school was in session. The teens reported regularly that the person doing the scheduling ignored their availability in regard to school and school events. I was glad when the chain opened up a newer store closer to my home. I have never heard the teens there complain about scheduling, so it must have been a management problem, not a pervasive corporate problem.

      A fast food place where some of my daughter’s friends worked regularly fired teens who asked for prom night off. Basically, every year they lost a bunch of experienced workers who wanted to go to the prom because the manager said they couldn’t swap shifts and everyone had to be available Saturday nights. If it had been a case of every worker wanting to bail out for prom, I could understand it, but the prom-goers were the minority. So kids who wanted to go to prom resigned before that weekend or were fired for refusing to take the shift or forr

      1. Jamie*

        That’s very shortsighted on the part of the employer.

        Seriously, if you’re going to treat the people who work for you as disposable employees then don’t be surprised when they treat it as a disposable job.

        And absolutely if a place threatened to fire my kid for wanting prom night off I’d fully support him quitting.

  9. Helen*

    Hello guys… this is not my real name as I wish to remain unknown.

    Thank you for answering my question so promptly… I was expecting it to be a while. :)

    As for the advice… I shall attempt to do that this week, if it happens again, we still work Christmas Eve regardless anyway, I shall speak to her. I do wish to take my concerns to her actual boss because the managing system is all over the place. I do agree that my steps may not be taken into consideration or change a thing and if it doesn’t then I shall leave. No argument or strife, just leave with something else hopefully lined up behind. I only came back to this company because I was a student and needed something that was very flexible but because I had to stop due to funding I have to work full time and this is the worse it’s been.

    As for the comments… I do work in the fast food store with the Golden Arches, so that makes it even more ridiculous. Anyone would have thought that the emphasis they put on delivering good customer service in timely fashion could be paired with managers who know how to do their job and be able to delegate. But in this franchised Golden Arches it’s more about money and pushing emails. As for the schedule it’s suppose to be up every Thursday regardless of time so 3 days late is pushing it. However there is a culture of blame because the second senior blames the store manager and the store manager blames the second senior according to my colleague and what I heard from the second senior.

    I don’t live in America sadly, I live in the UK so those laws don’t apply. I have spoken to others who have also not had days off, fed up of the late scheduling and apparently requests are taken over the managers social networking account (as my colleague said… ‘so unprofessional’ which is why they’re on my Restricted List because my private life is not their business, it’s crossing a boundary). Schedules are done electronically with paper or the online sign in system sending emails recording requests.

    Thank you guys

    1. John Quincy Adding Machine*

      apparently requests are taken over the managers social networking account

      What, like people are posting on her Facebook wall, “Hey, Jane, I need Saturday the 15th off!”? Where does that leave the employees who aren’t her Facebook friends? ‘Unprofessional’ doesn’t begin to cover it.

    2. Brightwanderer*

      I don’t think we have a law in the UK for minimum scheduling time (though it’s almost certainly in your contract/handbook), but you might find this page useful for general employment rights –

      (That’s the one for England, it may differ in Scotland, Wales or NI)

      Even if there were a law specifically about notice for scheduling I doubt it would be useful to bring it up – AAM’s suggestions are much more likely to get results – but do bear in mind that we have a lot more employee protections in the UK, so don’t assume everything you’ve read here applies to you (particularly things like right to paid leave, breaks, and notice).

  10. Not So NewReader*

    Sadly, this discussion here only scraps the surface of what goes on the retail arena.

    They tell you that they will work with you on scheduling but they do not mean it. It does not take long and suddenly your “lack of availability” is causing them mortal pain. If you point out that you told them you were going to school, they reply that is not their problem it is yours. (huh?)

    Not only have I had my schedule rearranged as discussed above. I have also had my hours erased and changed on a given day. (Picture going in for a morning shift and finding out you have a closing shift.) Some how it was always the employee’s fault.
    Then there is the wild fluctuation in hours – 4 hours this week, 38 hours the next week. No set days off. Every. Single. Appointment has to be requested off- car repair, doctor appointment, etc. Then you get in trouble for too many requests.

    This only covers one topic– there is oh-so-much more running in the background.

  11. Anonymous*

    Just some perspective:

    I write the schedule for a restaurant. We have 37 employees. Three of those have open availability and 34 have other jobs or school or other jobs and school. The process for requesting time off is in fact to come to me with a note, two weeks in advance asking for that time off. I work a varied enough schedule that I’m pretty sure I see everyone once a week. I write down every request I get- but after 3 people I can’t guarantee anything and make that quite clear. I still make mistakes- however if the mistake is my fault I am very pro active about getting the necessary shifts covered.

    Our week starts on Wednesday and I have the schedule done by Sunday at 4pm almost every week. One holiday week it was Sun 9pm. It takes me 2-3 hours on an easy week- and on weeks when people are leaving for Christmas break, starting a new semester, coming back from back, it has taken as many as 10 hours to write the schedule. I also don’t get time written in to my schedule for this- I have to do it before or after my own scheduled shifts.

    If your manager is new to doing the schedule- especially during the last two months during the holidays/semester change at school, it make sense to me that she might be late. Just talking to her about it may help.

    As far as delegating the schedule? For one week that’s almost impossible. No matter how detailed my notes, I forget things and don’t catch them until the final proofread. It would be very difficult to explain to another manager that Bill can work on Tues and Thurs this week- but he has a lab every other Thurs so can’t next week, and Jamie works her second job and is available til 3 every day except Sunday and Joe and Kristy will bring your the schedules from their other jobs by Friday. (Imagine this for 34 people.) For one week I wouldn’t delegate it either. I’d probably just post it a little late that week.

    1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      Scheduling is soo hard! I was never in charge of the regular schedule for my (much smaller than 37 people) fast food location, but I did volunteer to do the holiday schedules, so my manager didn’t have to deal with it. Just 5 days (Thanksgiving, Xmas Eve, Xmas Day, New Years Eve, and New Years Day) at our 24 hour location, and it was super hard. Not everyone got what they wanted. And I believe I worked every single one to make it easier. While I think consistently having the schedule out so late is bad, and there’s no excuse for it, it’s definitely not reasonable to expect all day off requests to be accommodated. I hope that these are problems that the OP can solve with a real conversation aimed at finding a solution.

  12. LG*

    First to the OP – tell your manager’s manager what’s going on. I am a district manager in retail and would absolutely want to know about it – not to “punish” the manager but to figure out how to fix the problem – more time mgmt training? Help with the scheduling software? My job is to support the team on the front line that are interacting with our customers and unhappy employees do not give the best service!

    For others who have had bad experiences in retail – not all retailers work like that! I love my job and love the work I do with PEOPLE whether they are building their career with us or are working to get through school to go get their “real job.” Find a company that cares about their people, has an open door policy and has leaders that love people more than profit and loss statements. The best way to find those companies – look for the places that give the best customer service and ask those employees how they like working there.

  13. pidgeonpenelope*

    I believe in the state of Washington, it is illegal to post a schedule less than a week (possibly two weeks but that seems extreme) in advance. I would check your state’s labor laws because she could be violating labor laws.

    Back when I was 17 and working in fast food, the scheduling manager would write our schedules in pencil really lightly and then change the schedule by erasing and rewriting. I know this happened because I witnessed her doing it to others first hand. I used to get written up because my schedule would change and I wouldn’t know it and of course, I would be a no call no show. Yay for that one. This was back in the 90s so there wasn’t an online schedule to look at either.

  14. Cheryl*

    I used to make the schedule for a 60+ pizza joint and it was a time consuming job. We had to take into account the time of year, was it superbowl sunday, kids out of school, snow forecast usually meant bigger sales, concerts in town meant more requests for time off and then the forecast from the previous week. I prided myself on on giving folks the time off they wanted until one day I couldnt. Once I realized this is a business and I am not your friend, the schedule making became a lot easier and I didnt hate it as much. But in my company, I always had the schedule posted a full week before it began as it is common courtesy to allow folks to have a life without too much interruption.

    I too would check with the Employee Handbook and if it doesnt state in there the time frame for posting the schedule, I would then check with the manager or district manager as this is usually regulated within the company as opposed to the state.

  15. Big Pat*

    This just happened tonight. I work in a small business store, it is a family enviroment and everbody is to help. Yesterday I looked in the schedule and was scheduled to work 4-9 on Saturday, tonight I looked and it said 10-9. I told the manager I couldn’t make it because I had plans. She said ” There’s no one else to work. I’m going to be with my step kids and husband and suzie (the managers sister in which niether the manager or sister are related to the owner, and this was textbook case of nepotism) last day is Thursday. Now assuming the sister is leaving on good terms, she needs to finish her schedule then leave I said back and that “I’m sticking to my guns”. She replies back by saying “Her working a notice is not your business. You can work tomorrow. I won’t need you the rest of the week.” Only problem was the owner a.k.a my boss was standing right next to me. He said to “work the original schedule”. Now I’ve been their for over two years, she has been the manager for six months. I would’ve been the manager but I go to school full time. She has been calling me in early so she can leave early at least twice a week. I only do it to help the boss, though. Latley there has been another employee who has been their for five years talking the owner about getting rid of the current mananger and delegating her duties to me. In whcih I can do from my computer in 30 minutes. Since all she doses is schedule 6 people, report pay-roll to accountant, and is suppose to be ordering product but she doesn’t. She also has that “I don’t have to do that because i’m the manager” mindset, which would be true if we were a corporate store, but we’re not. This is a “lead by example store”, which I try and do but its hard to do when I go to school and the manager is training them telling them, don’t worry about, I will do it, next time when I work, which sometimes isn’t for a week. This mostly applies to grunt work like; folding shirts, stocking, and cleaning.

  16. Jennifer*

    From what I’ve heard from my ex who worked retail, his manager would make SURE to schedule people to work when they wanted time off. I honestly thought until this thread that was a deliberate choice by retail managers–kind of a “fuck you for trying to have a life” sort of thing. Other folks have told me that you can’t schedule anything into your life because you can and will be called into work at the last minute and get canned if you don’t go, schedule be damned. And then there’s the passive-aggressive way of firing the retail worker by only giving them 8 hours a week repeatedly after awhile….oh god, I hope I never have to work retail.

    I have a question, though, as someone who hasn’t done it: why can’t retail jobs be scheduled on a same from week to week level? Why is it so verboten/impossible to slot people into the same overall time period from week to week and just make alterations when you have to? Why does it have to utterly and drastically change every week?

    1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      Some people you can schedule the same time every week, but ultimately it’s 1) the time off requests and 2) the fact that you need evening and weekend coverage that end up messing things up. Lots of people in retail want to work 9-5, but then, that means that those people never have to work an evening. Relateldly, few people want to always work Saturdays and never have that night off. Then you’re 9-5 cashier has a dentist appt and you need to move someone off the night shift to cover, or your regular Thursday night person wants the night off because Thursday happens to be Xmas eve, or something. Ultimately, most places try to have a regular schedule but every single week there is something that needs to get moved, because if some has an appt or calls in sick, that shift *needs* to be covered by someone.

      Some places are lucky enough to have someone interested in working sort of “on-call,” so they are available to cover when someone calls in or something needs to get covered. But that’s pretty rare; it would have to be someone interested in working on short notice and having perhaps 0 hours one week and 30 the next. You just don’t typically find people like that.

  17. Anonymouse*

    haha. I have the opposite issue. I am the scheduling manager at my place. We have one employee whose availability changes from week to week and I’m starting to feel like I have to hound him every week for his availability. I like to have our schedule posted by Thursday (Friday in an extreme situation) because it gives everyone time to plan their week, as well as more than enough time to shift the schedule around if I’ve made a mistake or if someone has an expected conflict, etc.

    I’m starting to get a little peeved because I have politely stressed to him that I need his availability early in the week, I try to have the schedule done by Thursday, etc., and this is now the second time I have had to call him and nag him about getting me availability. (I’ve also requested this in person and have stressed why this is so important.) I don’t think that having the schedule done before the weekend hits (to insure that everyone has ample time to view it, record it, and make adjustments if necessary) is unreasonable, especially in the food industry, and I’m struggling with how to get this through this guy’s head.

    It wouldn’t be as much of an issue with me if he had been here for months and this had only come up a few times, but he’s been for a few weeks and I’m already starting to feel like I have to hassle the guy. I want to give you hours in exchange for money! Please make my job easier!

  18. Anonymose*

    I totally feel your pain. I have had to deal with this ridiculousness for years at my server job in a hotel restaurant. Our schedule often doesn’t get posted until the day before the new work week . So basically we come in to work on the last day of our work week, and dont even know if or when we work the next day, until sometime during our shift.No matter how much we complain about this, it never gets fixed. So we have no way to make plans, know our days off, or know until last minute if our requested day off is approved. It can drive ya nuts! How nice it must be, to have a job where you at least know your days off each week! To not know your days off, OR your shifts each day is so annoying.

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