I work in a cardiac catheterization lab where all nurses are trained to do all cases. My manager is requiring two specific nurses provide vacation coverage and flex time coverage when others are away on vacation or flex time, while not requiring this of anyone else on staff.

It seems unfair to me that just two members of our team should be expected to cover vacation for the whole team. How can I approach my manager to discuss the issue?

  • The manager is requiring these two women to find replacements for themselves whenever they are on vacation. She asks this of no other employee while they are away. – Mina Aug 29 '19 at 13:14
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    This would be much easier to answer if we knew the country. Hospital power structures and labour laws vary quite a bit according to region. – P. Hopkinson Aug 31 '19 at 21:55
  • @Mina - Asking only a subset of employees to find replacements can have reasonable explanations. I was in a volunteer collective and some days were much harder to cover than others. You could be seeing the same thing -- some shifts just aren't popular. Doesn't excuse the manager, but does explain the problem. – Julie in Austin Sep 1 '19 at 14:34
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    Are you one of the specific nurses? If not you may not know all of the details. You could start by asking those nurses whether they feel there is an issue or not. – John3136 Sep 1 '19 at 23:39

It seems unfair to me that just two members of our team should be expected to cover vacation for the whole team. How can I approach my manager to discuss the issue?

To discuss this, you need at least two critical things:

  • an issue, and
  • a goal as to how to resolve it (ideally, with a proposed solution)

First of all: Make sure there really is an issue.

  • If you are not one of these two nurses, consider well before getting involved. Are the two bothered by that? Did they maybe even agree in exchange for other benefits? If you know them well, you could try asking them what they think of the situation. Otherwise it's probably best to stay out of it unless it seems the manager is outright bullying them.
  • If you are one of the two nurses, make sure to have your facts straight. Did the manager explicitly say you two need to provide cover? If yes, what was the reason given? If no, why do you think that it's only you who has to provide cover? Check timesheets or similar to make sure others are not covering, too.

Now, assuming you have the above covered: You (or someone else) is annoyed by the situation, and the coverage is really distributed unevenly. Now you need to figure out your goal (and, ideally, a solution to propose):

  • More even distribution of coverage?
  • More influence on when you cover (i.e. you're fine with covering more often if you get your favorite days off instead)?
  • More pay? Some other benefit?

Once you have all that, make an appointment with your manager. Lay out the facts you gathered above, calmly, without reproaching him/her. Tell him why you feel this is unfair, and that you want to ask for a different solution. If applicable, also ask why the current solution was chosen.

Then enter into a discussion of what other solutions you can propose, and see what the response is.

That last part is of course the most difficult, and may or may not go your way. Ideally, the manager will understand your concerns and acommodate them. Or maybe they become evasive, or flat out tell you the current solution is fine to them and will not change. Then you may have no other choice but to live with it or switch jobs (or possibly go over their head if applicable, but that is a difficult path to take). But at least you know you have tried.

Best of luck!

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