I missed a shift and it was my fault. I would like to apologise and take measures so it doesn't happen again. I work seasonal at a large chain of retail stores. I take the work extremely seriously (even though many people don't) and would like to get hired full time and transition to the head office. There is a policy where 3 no shows is cause for immediate termination and today was my first.

Today a manager called asking why I hadn't shown up for work. I told her I didn't know I was supposed to and she said another manager had told me. This other manager usually sends me text messages for shifts, so I checked these and found he hadn't for today. So I texted him that I didn't have a record of a shift today and confirmed the other dates were correct.

Embarrassingly, I just found the piece of paper the manager handed me when I was working on till. It had today's date written down.

I plan on apologising to both the manager who called and the one that gave me the shift. Anything in particular I should say, or just "sorry, my fault?"

Another complicating factor, is when the manager called me today she called from a private number and she said "where were you?" so I answered literally. I said I was sick and at the doctor, which was true. That being said, since I want the work and wasn't too sick I may have not bothered to call in sick and shown up, but since I had been under the impression I wasn't working today anyway I hadn't given the decision thought. Should I bring any of this up?

  • 19
    If you were at the doctor's office, get a note from them confirming that.
    – Neo
    Commented Dec 19, 2018 at 13:12
  • 18
    So, you are normally notified of your schedule via text, but this time you were notified by a manager handing you a note while you were busy working?
    – Kevin
    Commented Dec 19, 2018 at 13:43
  • 1
    @Kevin yup pretty much
    – DellBlue
    Commented Dec 22, 2018 at 13:34
  • 2
    @DellBlue I haven't worked hourly/shift work in long time, but that seems like crappy management to me
    – Kevin
    Commented Dec 22, 2018 at 23:43

2 Answers 2


I would like to apologise and take measures so it doesn't happen again.

You answered your own question. You simply acknowledge the mistake, explain why it happened if relevant, and say what you're doing to ensure it doesn't happen again. That signals that you recognise the mistake, aren't cavalier about it and want to avoid it in the future. That's all that's required when you mess up at work. Errare humanum est.

In your particular case, you may want to update your manager when you see her if she's not aware of the planning mixup. She might worry that you don't think you need to call out if you're sick so you want to avoid that.

  • 9
    Yep, this. And as quickly as you can.
    – Neo
    Commented Dec 19, 2018 at 13:11
  • 1
    I once had a Christmas job in retail, and on the morning of my shift I got terrible tooth ache and couldn't go in, ended up calling as I was on the drive in, about 2 minutes away from the store (and about 10 minutes before my shift would of started) - essentially the worst possible time for me to call in to say I wasn't coming in, as far as getting cover is concerned.We were told at the interview stage that doing this would mean we guarantee we wouldn't get a perm role after the Christmas period. However I still worked hard, and I did in fact get a role after Christmas. Commented Dec 19, 2018 at 13:49
  • 15
    You might also want to follow up with your manager, and request that they text you for any unexpected schedule change - the note they left at your register obviously was not noticed by you the other day, which led to this incident in the first place. Do not be accusatory - just make a polite request.
    – Zibbobz
    Commented Dec 19, 2018 at 14:09
  • 3
    @Zibbobz It's a valid point indeed, that would be part of the "ensure it doesn't happen again". Which can be sticking to a single way to get schedule updates or just having a better way to track them.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Dec 19, 2018 at 15:57
  • 1
    Thanks, it worked out well. The following day a different manager called me into his office and asked why I didn't show up the other day. I told him the truth and said I didn't recall I had a shift. I told him it wouldn't happen again as I would immediately make a note in my phone when someone assigns me a shift. He didn't like this as phones aren't supposed to be out in the work place (I didn't know this) so I told him instead I would remember to do it on my break. The manager seemed to think it's his job to 'get mad at me' but I felt comfortable knowing I tried my best and was honest.
    – DellBlue
    Commented Dec 22, 2018 at 13:41

Every mishap can also be an opportunity.

Of course you apologize first.

But then you can try to play an active role in fixing the cause. Texting and scraps of papers on the till doesn't sound very efficient. If you are comfortable with it, you could offer find something better. Maybe a shared document on Google Docs or Box that everyone can access all the time (only managers would have write access). Maybe there is a scheduling app out there, that everyone can easily use from their phones. You can start with asking some managers on what's currently working and what could be easier and better. Something like "Hi, I recently screwed up and missed a shift, so I was thinking maybe there is a better scheduling system we could use and I would love to look into that bit. Could you tell me how an ideal scheduling system should work for you and what's working well and not so well with our current approach".

That shows would

  1. demonstrate you take responsibility and own up to your mistakes
  2. show that you learn from them and that you proactively try make things better
  3. maneuver you in a position that adds more value to the company. They person who setup and runs the scheduling systems (even if it's just a file on Google Docs) is harder to replace than a generic sales person
  • 4
    google docs? How about a calendar? People get automatic emails, they can look on their phone/everywhere, write authority is tightly controlled..
    – user90842
    Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 0:40
  • 1
    @GeorgeM I second that. One company I know has a groupware "resource" created for each work that has to be covered every shift, a "mailbox" with company email for every manager and a "contact" for every grunt with their private mail address. When planning the shifts, managers create a "meeting" at the resource, inviting the contact. That way everyone has the overview that all shifts are covered and by whom.
    – Alexander
    Commented Dec 20, 2018 at 13:44
  • 1
    I would love this. But do you really think the new guy, a seasonal employee, could change the way the whole company operates?
    – DellBlue
    Commented Dec 22, 2018 at 13:35

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