I work casual, and I also volunteer once a week on Tuesday nights. I have volunteered longer than I have worked in my current occupation, and everyone I work with knows that I volunteer.

I told my coworker, at the workplace where I work causal, who does the rosters that I am able to work Tuesday nights provided she discusses it with me first in case I am in charge of what is happening at my volunteering that night. I tell her this over and over again, and she's good for about a month and then goes back to just rostering me on and I once more have to remind her of my previous commitments. I'm sick of having to tell her.

Other casuals have asked for specific nights off, and we're pretty lucky that none of us clash with nights off that we want, but they very rarely are asked to work the nights that they want off so I know it's not just that she is forgetful. Maybe I'm being paranoid or judgmental, but I constantly feel like I'm treated like crap because I'm the youngest on the team by a lot, and also my parents left with bad blood from the same company and they're taking out their frustration for that on me.

So what can I say to her that might make it actually stick that I need to be asked prior to working Tuesday nights?

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    @BSMP: If I read it correctly, the volunteer work is somewhere else, hence the conflict when the company also schedules work for Tuesdays.
    – MSalters
    Aug 24, 2020 at 9:55
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    @Kilisi Forgetting a weekly commitment becomes disrespectful pretty quickly. Aug 24, 2020 at 14:36
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    Is schedule done by herself or does she use some program that does the scheduling?
    – Piro
    Aug 25, 2020 at 6:03
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    What country, what kind of job (driving a truck is not the same as being a medical doctor, in particular during Covid pandemic)? What kind of company or organization: startup or multinational or army or police force? What does your manager or work contract specifies? Please give more context so edit your question! Aug 25, 2020 at 20:11
  • The title is incomprehensible by itself. Can someone fix it? (e.g., put on what? Put on a (night) work schedule plan?) Aug 26, 2020 at 12:34

4 Answers 4


Making your availability dependent on the scheduler talking to you is the sort of thing that can easily be forgotten. You ask for a way to change her behavior. Changing someone else's behavior is often harder than doing something different yourself.

One option is to never be available on Tuesday. If most of your colleagues can get the nights off they need, the scheduler probably has some system for tracking those nights, and will be able to apply it to your solid, unchanging Tuesday unavailability.

If that is not practical, be proactive rather than asking her to take the initiative. You know roughly when she prepares the roster - it is when she asks those months she does ask. A day or two before then, check your Tuesday night plans, and notify her if you will not be available. Use whatever is the normal informal but written communication path, such as e-mail or a sticky note on her desk.

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    I'll second the part about "just not available on Tuesday nights". People aren't going to be particularly interested in how, or why, you aren't available. Volunteer work is often considered to be "lesser" work by employers as well. It's not you being treated like crap because you're the youngest, but because companies are ambivalent to your needs.
    – Malisbad
    Aug 24, 2020 at 3:09
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    @Malisbad I agree about not giving reasons. It should just be "I will not be available on any Tuesday night", or "I will not be available next Tuesday". Aug 24, 2020 at 3:20
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    I, too, agree that if she can't get that "you are not available on some Tuesday nights", you should raise that to "not available on any Tuesday nights". And the needs of those older than you are usually given priority, not because they're better or more valuable than you, but simply because over time you will age out to the point of not being the youngest any more -- therefore, since your reward is coming, not getting your reward now is not so bad after all. Or you could simply say "can't come that night" and let her figure out what to do about it.
    – Jennifer
    Aug 24, 2020 at 11:02
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    I am not convinced the issue is one of low priority, but rather of asking the scheduler to follow a special and inconvenient procedure, having to talk with the OP every roster cycle. Aug 24, 2020 at 12:51
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    +1 for the "just never be available that evening" and another +1 for "no reason". When you give people reasons, they think they can factor those reasons into their own conclusions. Keep it simple.
    – CCTO
    Aug 24, 2020 at 13:34

I'd suggest you make the default assumption as that you're NOT available on Tuesdays.

i.e. rather than "I am able to work Tuesday nights provided she discusses it with me first", communicate it as "I am not able to work Tuesday nights unless ...".

They're logically equivalent, but by starting from the position of "not available unless", it perhaps helps to communicate the intent more clearly.

That way, if it does cause a problem, you can say "I already told you I'm not available on Tuesday nights".

You could also pro-actively communicate when there are Tuesday nights where you can be available.

"Although I'm not generally available on Tuesday nights, feel free to schedule me for Tues XX Sept or Tues YY Sept if required", again starting from the position of general unavailability and presenting these cases that don't cause a scheduling conflict as an exception. The gentle reminder each month of your unavailability is then always accompanied by an offer of flexibility.

  • Reading my own answer back, it will be necessary to be very clear with a message such as suggested in the last paragraph, in case the co-worker skim-reads as "... not .. available ... Tues XX Sept or Tues YY Sept", so perhaps combine with @jcaron answer where not-available dates are (also) explicitly listed.
    – Steve
    Aug 25, 2020 at 7:15
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    This approach is also more fails better than the alternative approaches: if the OP is in fact free some Tuesday but forgets to tell the person doing the scheduling, the OP has a free night and everything's fine. If the scheduler is assuming OP is free on Tuesdays unless they hear otherwise, and OP forgets, then everybody is unhappy. Aug 26, 2020 at 6:31

When does she prepare the roster? If you know in advance when she is going to do it (e.g. "every first tuesday of the month"), you can send her a reminder the day before.

Or even better, tell her about your unavailabilities for the upcoming roster at that time:

Dear X,

As you'll be preparing the roster for next month tomorrow, I'd like to let you know that I won't be available on the night of Tuesday the Yth. All other dates are fine.

Let me know if you have any questions or issues.

Put yourself in her shoes: it's time-consuming to start preparing a roster (using whatever rules are in effect), find out that X is scheduled for A and Y for B and they said that maybe there might be an issue, then ask each of those, then when she gets an answer go back to the roster to fix it, then find out that now Z is scheduled for C which may be an issue, and so on. You may not even be available at the time she asks, which means delays in preparing the roster, which may have an impact on operations or everybody else's planning.

If she has all the information upfront, she can use it at once and not lose time (neither hers nor yours) with a lot of back-and-forth.

Depending on the tools used (even if it's as simple as a sheet of paper!), making an annotation on the relevant dates would probably be the easiest and most practical way for her to do her job and respect your needs.

  • OP has stated (1) that the scheduler should already be aware of the potential conflict and (2) that in their opinion other co-workers are not typically scheduled on nights they want off. #2 is obviously somewhat subjective but according to OP lack of information should not be the problem.
    – David
    Aug 25, 2020 at 16:03
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    I'd also point out that the OP only requested to be asked so that they would be available to work some Tuesdays, i.e. OP was trying to be accommodating. If that's a hassle for the scheduler, there's an easy fix: assume OP is never available on Tuesday.
    – David
    Aug 25, 2020 at 16:08
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    OP has stated that Tuesdays are OK if she checks with them first. That's indeed a "potential conflict", so either she never schedules them on Tuesdays (which others have suggested), or she has to get back to them to ask whether it's OK, which is a hassle for everyone. The suggestion is to be pro-active, not reactive: tell her the specific days OP can or cannot be scheduled on, preferably by putting the information in a place where it is directly accessible during rostering, rather than tell her "maybe but you need to ask". Others seem to be more specific and say they are unavailable, not maybe
    – jcaron
    Aug 25, 2020 at 16:08

Next time it happens, go back to them and remind them "As they know you are not available to be rostered on those shifts. Please remember that when doing the rosters." Don't leave the option to be able to be rostered for that shift. Make sure you say this in person and follow up with a email.

That way when they try next time, they won't have an excuse.

You may want to talk to the other staff letting them know that although you normally can't work that shift, if they would like to swap a shift, come and talk to you in person, because you may be able to do it, and want to support the team.

You now have ammo if they try again. Which you can take to your bosses boss. Etc.

  • They don't know that (he's not available). He has communicated that he is likely available for those shifts and sometimes is not. But he wants special treatment where someone must go out of their way to ask him his availability every time, versus knowing he's never available or having a calendar they can look at to see he's not available. Since he's the one with the random unavailability, it seems the onus is on him, not others to adjust how scheduling is handled.
    – iheanyi
    Aug 27, 2020 at 15:42
  • @iheanyi It seems to me that OP is more often than not, unavailable for those shifts. So by setting the expectation they are always unavailable, OP won't have a conflicting schedule, but still has the option to swap a shift if they can. Aug 29, 2020 at 1:41
  • Agreed, however, that's not what your answer says. It says "As they know" which they clearly do not.
    – iheanyi
    Aug 30, 2020 at 13:47

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