I been working for two years with my current company and the new manager is trying to implement a new rule which states that when an employee needs to take some time off, they need to find another co-worker who will work during your time off.

Is it normal for employers to require that employees make their own arrangements for their hours to be covered when they are away?

  • 2
    what type of position do you have? Is your team required to provide coverage for a specific period of time each day, or even 24/7? Sep 10, 2013 at 16:41
  • This is the responsibility of managers. 'Manager' means just that, manage the workload allocations of a group of people. At what point will your new manager ask you to recruit new employees? Sep 10, 2013 at 18:00
  • 2
    I have seen this as normal in some companies (not the good ones to work for) for lower level positions. It is probably more common in retail than anywhere else. It is very uncommon in the US to do this to someone in a professional position. However, even there they might ask you do identify who else could do your job while you are out. But generally it is the manager who will figure out exactly who will cover or if coverage is needed. If coverage is needed and no one is available to cover, the request may also get denied.
    – HLGEM
    Sep 10, 2013 at 18:35
  • 4
    I'm quite sure that it's not only unusual, but outright illegal in numerous European countries.
    – vartec
    Sep 10, 2013 at 21:52
  • @moises - What does the company policy say on the matter?
    – Donald
    Sep 11, 2013 at 12:54

4 Answers 4


Requiring the employee to find a replacement when they are scheduling a day off is generally done at locations that must be fully staffed and tries to have a set schedule. If you need to take a day off your chair still needs to be filled. By putting the requirement on the employee that does make it harder to take a day off, but if the schedule is a rotating schedule they expect that many appointments can be scheduled during non-work days.

If the manager is responsible for generating a weekly schedule they usually ask that the employees let them know about days off prior to them creating the schedule. Once the schedule is published the employee is now responsible for finding a replacement.

The requirement to find your own substitute generally doesn't apply to unanticipated sick days, but does apply to scheduled medical appointments.

Places where I have experienced this type of scheduling rules: hospitals, fire departments, satellite operations, help desk.

If you don't think that this should apply to your situation then you need to demonstrate that this new rule makes meeting the shift staffing requirements harder. If the schedules aren't locked in long in advance, then it is hard to schedule some appointments because you won't even know that you need to find a replacement until the schedule is published.


I know that I've heard of this type of rule in retail/restaurant-type workplaces, though I believe it's typically only in the case of "calling in sick", not "taking a vacation". Even then, though, it can be a difficult rule to work with, if many employees are unwilling or unable to fill in on their day off.

That said, employers can put in place many different rules specific to their workplace, and you will need to abide by them if you wish to work there.

If you want to change your manager's opinion, your best bet is to speak with him/her and ask why the new policy was put into place. You can also ask what to do if you can't find someone to cover your shift. "If I get the flu next week, and I call everyone who's not scheduled, but no one answers the phone, what should I do? Should I come to work and expose everyone else? Should I call in and explain 'I can't come in, but no one else would take my shift'?"

If they can't answer this (or if they answer it in a way that you find unsatisfactory), but they continue to insist on the new rule, then you need to accept that this is the way the company wants to work going forward, figure out how likely it is that you'll run afoul of the new rule (do you get sick often? are your coworkers likely to ignore their phones when they're not working, so that in an emergency, you're unlikely to find someone to take your shift?), and determine whether you want to continue with this job or begin a search for a new position.

  • 1
    I should also point out that it's possible that merely asking the questions could raise a bit of a red flag with some managers. They may think "this employee is trying to undermine my authority / test the bounds of the new rule". Be sure you go into the conversation with a friendly, "just trying to make sure I understand the rules" tone.
    – Adam V
    Sep 10, 2013 at 20:43

It is your manager's or assistance manager's or scheduler's responsibility to staff the office/department.

If you are not sure if this is in your job description, ask for a copy of your job description at Human Resources.


No if you are an employee its not your responsibility to find replacements to cover annual leave if you are self employed it may be - the right of substitution is one of the tests of self employment status that courts and the tax man use.

  • 1
    in the US. OP may not be in the US
    – smci
    Nov 19, 2016 at 12:20
  • @smci true but many legal systems descend from common law in English speaking countries Nov 19, 2016 at 18:28

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