Holiday week work schedule conundrum

My daughter started working for a grocery retailer last February when she turned 16. Her listed availability has always been Saturday and/or Sunday, between 10am-9pm with a maximum of a 4 hour shift.

Last Monday (2 days ago) the HR/scheduling manager posted the schedule for Christmas week. My daughter is scheduled to work on the 23rd from 10-2 when she already had plans with grandma for a baking day that day and the 24th from 10-4 (6 hours) when the store closes for Christmas Eve and we have our immediate family’s Christmas at noon due to my wife’s work schedule. She texted the lady and said she can’t work due to previous plans and it didn’t fit her availability anyways. The lady said she had a posting up right after Thanksgiving to let her know what hours employees need off over the Christmas Holidays and my daughter never requested any days off so she is scheduled to work. My daughter told her that due to her previous listed availability she would have never even thought to ask for those days off. The lady texted back and said “sorry, you are scheduled to work and are expected to be there. Failure to work as scheduled may lead to disciplinary actions up to and including termination of employment.”

So what to do? My thought is that my daughter’s previously listed availability overrides any list the lady may have put up. She likes the job and the people she works with. I like the job because it is less than 5 minutes from where we live. Should she quit? Not show up and possibly get fired? In my opinion if she gets fired, so what? There are dozens of entry level jobs for her that actually may pay more starting out than she is making right now. She is quite “wound up” at the thought of being fired.

IMHO, she needs to balance her enjoyment of the current job with the knowledge that if she gives in now, her listed availability will be thrown in the shredder.

The HR lady has already shown that she doesn’t care about your 16 year old daughter or her availability, all she cares about is having warm bodies around. If she is allowed to ignore your daughter’s availability this time, what’s to stop her next time?

She’s 16 and this is her first job. Of course she is all upside down at the idea of being fired. She’s not really old enough to understand that she does have some power in this relationship, and if its not working for her, its better to move on.

Good luck.

My daughter worked in a grocery store during high school. Although part-time, she had to join the union. Is your daughter in the union? This is the sort of thing the union handles.

I’d find out if there was any communication about holiday hours when the original availability document was filled out, or if the original availability form had any disclaimers to indicate that hours could be scheduled outside these times during peak times etc.

No union.

Honestly, years of retail have taught me that you should just expect to be working holiday hours because they always need people and usually disregard “Well, I can’t work Mondays because…” under the assumption that your usual Monday obligations aren’t happening due to the holidays. In other words, she should have made clear she needed those days off as early as possible. Unfortunately, that’s the sort of thing you learn with experience and aren’t imbued with at age 16. She’s not “wrong” for assuming she was okay, she should just remember that the rules for hourly retail tend to change for the holidays and businesses aren’t shy about playing the “Sucks to be you if you want to keep your job” card so it’s best to get in front of that.

If it were my kid, I’d probably feel like “Well, guess you’re working; we’ll try and work around that as best as possible when scheduling the family stuff”. That’s just me though and based partially off it not sounding as though any of these are rare chances to see family but rather just nice things. I think it’s equally legitimate to just make clear that she can’t show up based on her previous availability, not show up and either call their bluff or start filling out new applications. She doesn’t even need to list this place on her applications going forward; it’s not as though a few months working there will make a difference. You guys would know best how unique these events are or if baking with grandma is something that can happen later in the day or another day. Maybe she can move that one and offer to work one of the two days.

That was my thought too. Holidays tend to be all hands to the pumps in retail and hospitality. When I was 18 and worked 3 nights a week in a pub (stop clutching your pearls, it’s normal in the UK), it was simply a rule that you had to work Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, despite your normal shift patterns.

She may need to suck this one up - either cancel her plans (I mean, baking with grandma doesn’t sound like much of an excuse), or resign. Don’t see the point of waiting to be fired.

Besides it being the holidays as others have said, there may also be an assumption by HR: “she’ll be on Winter Break, out of school, so she’s available.”

Back when I was running a restaurant, I followed my employees’ availability, because that was easier than having to find new employees all the time. If I was making a schedule for a week where I new an employee wasn’t in school, I would ask if they were available that one time. I wasn’t required to do so, but, you know, don’t be a jerk.

Anyway, this was 20+ years ago, but I remember having run-ins with local supermarkets. There were a few times I had employees who were juggling two part-time jobs, the other with a supermarket, and each time the supermarket would not respect the employee’s availability. I recall once I called a supermarket store manager to see if we could work something out over an employee (he was one of my stars, and the supermarket was his second job). The manager basically said they didn’t do availability; they just wrote their schedules and the employees were expected to be there (as if working in his grocery store was some career opportunity that the employee should be thankful for), and tough shit for me.

I know this is all anecdotal, but that’s my impressions of grocery stores. Back to the OP, I have to agree with the others here that say it’s not a fight worth taking on. She’ll either have to work the shifts or find another job.

I think HR is in the right here. They asked employees to identify when they wanted time off and your daughter didn’t request any.

Just out of curiosity - where are you based a6ka97 ?

My 16 year old daughter faced exactly the same issue.
She had a job with a novelty stationary retailer, after the schedule was posted her second job rostered her round the shifts she had.
Stationary retailer changes shifts, and rosters her for 3 hours in the middle of the day (who the hell does that unless it’s specifically requested!)
Conflict ensues
Daughter “cowboys up” and goes to see manager.
She ends up resigning and picking up more shifts at the second job.

And this is where I do a brag - the 16 year old went actual door knocking for a job - dropped resumes, spoke to people at about 30 different stores. That does take cojones and determination

My daughter has missed few, if any days she has been scheduled since she was hired. Yet she talks about how people just don’t show up and nothing seems to happen to them. If she asks my opinion again I will tell her I think her stated availability (why state it in writing if it doesn’t mean anything?) takes precedence over the list and I would let the lady know she isn’t coming into work those days.

If the employer has a policy of asking for availability during the crunch time of Christmas, and gives employees a chance to state their preferences for that period, I would say that the employer is saying that there are special rules governing the Christmas holiday period. Normal rules of availability don’t apply.

Why else would they post the request after Thanksgiving, giving employees a chance to state their availability during the holiday period?

I don’t think it’s fair to say it doesn’t mean anything. Clearly they had been respecting her availability up to that point.

For many retailers the holiday season is just different, as indicated that they put a specific notice up about days off during that time. Maybe they could have been clearer with her, but don’t paint them as totally irresponsible.

Is she able to trade shifts with anyone? That might be the best first option. Otherwise, if it were my kid, I think I’d either let them resign, or see what happens if they don’t show up.

In college I worked weekends in one of the cafeterias. I only worked weekends (maybe even just Saturdays? I can’t remember now, but no more than 2 shifts a week). Approaching finals week that semester, they required everyone to sign up for at least 3 shifts, or you would be unable to be re-employed for the following semester. I thought “that’s more shifts than I work now, and I’ll be studying for finals on top of it” so I didn’t sign up for any and never saw them again (in hindsight, I should’ve at least resigned, but I was young)

I was a grocery industry union rep for many years. The Collective Agreements we worked with recognized “availability” language. From the facts the OP is relating, this quite likely would have been grievable. However, as it appears there’s no union your daughter is stuck as the boss can make up/change rules on the fly whenever the employer wants. She has to make an election as to what is more important to her. Her job or baking with grandma and the family get together. If it’s the latter, then she will most likely be fired. A good pre-emptive strike will be to resign as it will look better on her immediate work record to have quit rather than being fired for disobeying a direct order.

I think not showing up is just a really shitty thing to do - it puts the store in a fix and will mean other employees will have to pull some extra shifts, at last minute, to cover. I would never encourage any child of mine to do that. If she doesn’t want to work, then fine, resign. But not showing up stinks of bad attitude. This is an opportunity to teach some responsibility.

No, I agree, she should tell them she’s not coming in.
I thought the original post said she told the scheduler she couldn’t work those days, but re-reading I see she said she wouldn’t have thought to ask for those days off. So I’d say resign or clearly tell the scheduler you won’t be coming in on those days.

But that’s not this.

She tells them a week in advance: “I won’t be working the Wednesday shift. You need to take me off the schedule”

They say “Too bad, you’re scheduled. If you just don’t show up, you may be disciplined or fired”.

She says “Ok. I am not showing up”.

When she doesn’t show up on Wednesday, that’s not a “bad attitude” on her part and she didn’t “put the store in a fix”. They laid out the consequences, she told them what she’d be doing. If they decide she doesn’t really mean it and will show up, that’s on them, not her. If she doesn’t go to work and they fire her over it (which I doubt they will do), that’s fine. But she didn’t do anything “wrong” by notifying them a week in advance she wasn’t available for a shift.

Someone up thread suggested she just not show up. I think that’s the scenario he’s discussing

Ah, here it is

I can honestly see both sides of this issue. My advice: Let your daughter decide what to do.

She is old enough to understand the implications of any decision. You can (should) still support her, but make it known that you will not (should not) make the decision for her.

Adulthood is rife with difficult choices. View it as a lesson in being a grown-up.