I'm asking this question on my partner's behalf/request.

My partner works in retail. It is important to note that she is a part-time employee (~20 hours a week, paid hourly) and is not in a management role (she is neither a manager, assistant manager, or a shift manager).

She just got next week's schedule and the store manager has assigned her to a closing shift without any managers present. There are several issues with this.

  • First, the store's point-of-sale system only allows managers to process returns. Since this shift is from noon to 8:00 PM on a Saturday, she'll have trouble addressing customer service concerns during these peak hours.

  • Second, only managers have the combination to the safe or can open the cash drawer in the POS. Since she is not a manager, she cannot do required tasks such as balancing the register or putting together the next day's bank deposit.

  • Third, the only other employee working with her during that shift would be a new hire (also not a manager) that has received no training, does not have login credentials for the POS system, and would not be able to check out customers.

My partner is afraid that her manager is setting her up to fail and will use this as a pretext for firing her. This anxiety isn't entirely unreasonable. A couple of weeks ago, the store manager assigned another non-manager to a closing shift, did not give him the code to the alarm system, and fired him for failing to activate the alarm.

How do you suggest that she handle this situation? Should she contact HR? I've already suggested that she document as much as she can (just in case).

Thank you fo your time.

Some clarifications:

  • She has asked if a manager could be present, but was told they were all unavailable.

  • She is not aware of a company policy that requires a manager to be present at all times, but with the amount that only managers can do, such a policy would make sense.

  • She has never received any suggestion of poor performance. The store manager has also never spoken to her about or offered her a promotion or management role.

  • Since this other employee cannot use the register, my partner feels pressured to not take her breaks.

  • We are in the United States.


  • The answers to this question and this question don't quite work, though Hanlon's Razor is a really plausible explanation for this manager's behavior.

If the manager is setting her up for failure, then this advice may not help. This will only help if the manager is just careless and not paying attention to the jobs that need to be done.

Ask the manager (soon) for how to handle possible situations that might occur, where a manager usually deals with the issue. The following are some questions she should ask:

I see a few potential issues, and I want to run them past you to make sure I know how to deal with them.

I am not allowed to process returns. What do you want me to do if someone comes in with a return during that time when there is no manager? Should I direct them to come back at a different time?

How do you want me to handle the balancing at the end of the day? I don't have access to the safe.

The other employee is not yet trained to use the POS system. How do you want me to handle my required breaks? Will they be trained to cover me by that time?

Don't ask as if she is attacking the manager. Ask in a way that indicates she is problem solving, and want to make sure she is solving the problems the way the manager would want them to be done. She sees possible issues and wants to make sure she handles them correctly, just in case.

  • @BastionGamma I hope it works! If the manager IS setting her up to fail, probably nothing will work. – thursdaysgeek Nov 1 '18 at 15:21
  • 1
    also probably worth adding - document document document, and if legal in your state, record the conversation. If the manager is truly trying to fail on purpose, that might be evident in the response and leave you with some measure of recourse – NKCampbell Nov 2 '18 at 19:53

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