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I recently became a shift manager and used to be a casual crew. I changed my availabilities and no longer able to work on weekends due to family reasons.

My manager replied with this:

“Hi ****, why have you taken out all weekends?”

“Yeah I sadly had to. My family asked me to be free on weekends as they need my help.”

“What do you mean? Unfortunately that won’t work with the roster as it isn’t fair to not help out on weekends for the rest of the team.”

How should I deal with this? I already gave a valid reason which explains it and I can’t do anything about it.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – DarkCygnus
    Aug 25, 2022 at 20:08
  • What does your contract say? Is there any regulation as to how much work you need to do on weekends?
    – Polygnome
    Aug 26, 2022 at 15:35
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    what is your location?
    – Tristan
    Aug 26, 2022 at 15:38
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    @Tristan this is yet another throw away account where the author either leaves a comment on the first day or never comments at all and then just like that, he's gone.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 26, 2022 at 18:33

8 Answers 8

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I already gave a valid reason

No, you didn't. Either you don't need a reason and working weekends is entirely voluntary, or you do need a reason, then "my family said not to" is not one of them. PTO or sick days are reasons not to work the time expected, or a temporary emergency.

So for example:

I am sorry, my elderly father fell down a flight of stairs and needs constant medical attention for the next weeks. I am the only one available on weekends. I am trying to find a different solution, but I cannot make any promises when this situation will return to normal.

That is a good reason. That sets you apart from all the other employees, who do not have this emergency and who certainly understand your situation. But all the other employees have families or friends and they could all use help on weekends, too. You didn't even say what they need help with. For all your boss knows, your brother is mad because you always come late to his barbeque. That is not a reason to permanently skip weekend shifts if you are expected to take them.

It seems your boss is under the impression that all employees share the weekend shifts equally. Whether this is in your contract or just implied, we cannot say. If it is the expectation of your boss, then it is very likely that it is also the expectation of your colleagues.

The point that you changed your availabilities so shortly after having been promoted also sends a message. Multiple messages actually. It sends one to your boss, that loudly says "now that I got the promotion, I no longer need to work that hard" It also sends a message to the rest of your team that says "I'm boss now, I'm no longer one of you, I got privileges now".

Both messages are insulting and highly disruptive for a good team. If I were your boss, I would be miffed, too. I don't think they would have promoted you if they had known that you did not want to work weekends anymore. They probably feel a little betrayed.

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    What is even worse is that OP didn't even discuss it with their boss or their team first. The boss had to find out by looking at the rota. No discussion, no heads up, nothing. If I were OP's boss, believe me I would be more than miffed, and I expect the team would be as well.
    – ThaRobster
    Aug 23, 2022 at 12:35
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    nice answer - includes the social norms of work and the specific issue at hand.
    – Tiger Guy
    Aug 23, 2022 at 14:32
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    Big +1 - changing your availabilities to slots generally seen as more preferrable immediately upon promotion really is not a great look.
    – xLeitix
    Aug 24, 2022 at 11:37
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    @ThaRobster I'm not exactly sure why the boss would be miffed. They obviously have system for availability. OP used the system for that exact purpose. I worked shifts and temp jobs for years and this is exactly what that system is for. You self-service and set your availability. It's manager's job to make sure they have workers to cover the shifts, not workers. Aug 24, 2022 at 18:25
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    @MarcinRaczkowski If you have previously been given a job because you are able to work weekend hours, and then change this availability without consulting with your supervisor, even if it is not required for you to do so, it is still considerably rude and puts your supervisor in a very tight spot to find new coverage. It is their job, sure, but you making their job harder isn't a great way to endear yourself towards them. This is especially true if they recently promoted you, and especially true if, as is likely, they promoted you because they need a shift manager who can work weekends.
    – Zibbobz
    Aug 24, 2022 at 18:41
66

How should I deal with this? I already gave a valid reason which explains it and I can’t do anything about it.

  • Your company needs you to work weekends.
  • Due to family reasons you cannot work weekends.
  • Unless your company is willing to accommodate your changed schedule, you need to find a new job.

Based on the terms you used ("shift manager", "casual crew", "won't work with the roster"), it seems clear that this is the kind of work where working at least some weekends is the norm, and something that you used to do. If you can't do it any longer, then you and the job are no longer a good fit.

Ask your manager if avoiding all weekends can be accommodated or not. If not, find a new job.

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I'm hesitant to add an answer because there are good answers already, but I want to add a few things. In addition, I'm going to assume there is nothing in your contract that helps you here.

Manager is mad that I can no longer work on weekends

First of all, I don't see anything to suggest your manager is mad. You manager is explaining the situation to you, and has let you know that the situation is not workable from the business perspective.

I already gave a valid reason which explains it

There is (generally) no such thing as a "valid" reason when it comes to this.

You will have reasons that will resonate with different people and to different degrees.

For example, a list of reasons that may resonate with some people:

  • Family reasons
  • Playing sport
  • Watching sport
  • Education / Classes
  • Childcare
  • Religious reasons *
  • Temporary reasons

Some managers will be willing to deal with disgruntled workers, or even lose workers, if some of the reasons above sound good to them.

I can’t do anything about it.

You can. Your family has asked you to be available, and you agreed. You could have disagreed.

My recommendation is to speak with your family, and try to juggle things so that you are available for enough weekends to keep your boss happy.

For instance, I used to play organised sport on the weekend while working a casual job that had weekend shifts. I gave my boss 3 months of weekend availabilities up front which allowed my boss to lock in a lot of shifts well in advance, which actually made things easier. I was sure to never pull out of shifts, so my boss was happy to accommodate me.


I just want to throw an addendum down here regarding religious reasons. It is not necessarily illegal to fire someone because they refused to work a day or days that they consider holy. It depends on jurisdiction, but there are a range of factors at play.

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    In the USA, the Civil Rights Act requires businesses to accommodate religious beliefs unless it causes an undue hardship on the business. Undue hardship is subject to interpretation, but in general in a regular shift work situation it would absolutely be illegal to fire someone for not working holy days. eeoc.gov/laws/guidance/…
    – David
    Aug 27, 2022 at 0:16
  • Also, time off for childcare is protected in many circumstances by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which requires employers to allow workers to take up to 12 workweeks of leave in a year to care for children suffering from health problems. Other federal laws or state law may extend these protections in some circumstances.
    – David
    Aug 27, 2022 at 0:22
  • @David The religious belief excuse was tested in the UK, and in that particular instance, the worker could not opt out of every Sunday as it was unfair to the other workers. So yeah, jurisdiction matters. Relating to FLMA, I would imagine you need something less vague than "I need to help my family" to trigger those clauses. Aug 27, 2022 at 4:37
  • @Gregory_Currie Whatever case you've found is exceptional. The UK generally prohibits workplace religious discrimination, including requiring employees to work at times they cannot work due to religious observances. They have an analogous reasonableness standard like the US has. I'm sure there are plenty of cases where a business successfully claimed a religious accommodation was unreasonable, but that is not the general standard.
    – David
    Aug 27, 2022 at 6:06
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    @David You can read more about it here: equalityhumanrights.com/en/advice-and-guidance/… An excerpt: "An employee with a religion or belief should not automatically be given priority to take leave. If they are given automatic priority over an employee with no religion or belief, this could be direct discrimination against the employee with no religion or belief. The Equality Act 2010 protects both individuals with a religion or belief and those without a religion or belief." Aug 27, 2022 at 14:51
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There's plenty of answers saying that your reason isn't good enough to avoid working weekends. Yes it is.

If I (or anyone else for that matter) don't want to work weekends, then you are not going to get me to work weekends. No matter the reason.

You (and the workplace) do not get to decide what is a good enough reason and you do not get to determine my actions.

That being said there are consequences for everything. If you say you don't want to work weekends and can't compromise for whatever reason, but the company needs someone to work weekends: Then the person that they get to work those weekends might not be you and you could lose the job you currently have.

But the fact that there could be consequences does not mean you that don't have a choice.

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    I mean, that answer isn't wrong, but it's also not extremely helpful. Of course you always have a choice if you see "piss of boss / team and potentially get fired" as a valid choice. But OP presumably already knew that.
    – xLeitix
    Aug 24, 2022 at 11:40
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    Unless there's something legally binding that OP has signed, then this is the exact answer. They can't force you, but there's consequences if you don't do what they want. Aug 24, 2022 at 12:25
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    That "something legally binding" that people tend to sign is a work contract. Given that OP seems to be doing shift work where they used to also work weekend shifts I find it incredibly unlikely that their work contract allows for the employee to unliterally decide that weekends don't work for them any longer.
    – xLeitix
    Aug 24, 2022 at 12:52
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    "There's plenty of answers saying that your reason isn't good enough to avoid working weekends." A lot of answers actually say the concept doesn't exist here. Aug 24, 2022 at 13:43
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    If OP had suddenly stopped quit with absolutely no notice, that would be an unethical thing to do. So simply being prepared to be fired is not sufficient to justify not working on weekends. By your logic, OP's boss could fire them for any reason, and if OP complains, the boss can say "You (and the workplace) do not get to decide what is a good enough reason and you do not get to determine my actions." Employment involves reciprocal implied obligations, and "My family wants to see me on the weekends" is not sufficient to override those obligations. Aug 25, 2022 at 3:04
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What does your contract say?

Does it mention that you should work X amount of weekends or anything in general about weekends? If it says you for example should work 2 weekends per month then your employer has the right to make you work 2 weekends per month even if your family wants you at home.

If it doesn't mention weekends and only says which number of hours you are expected to put in each week then you have all the right to not work weekends.

So first of all check your contract and act upon that

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    The contract should also specify if the company is bound by what employees write in the "availability system". It might just say that the schedules are made by the company however it wants, which would mean that the system with the "availabilities" is just an internal tool that can be used as long it works and disregarded when it doesn't.
    – Rad80
    Aug 25, 2022 at 8:27
  • "you have all the right to not work weekends" - sure, but his boss doesn't have an obligation to comply. Aug 26, 2022 at 6:21
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How should I deal with this? I already gave a valid reason which explains it and I can’t do anything about it.

Yes, you did. Despite some other answers "I don't want to work on weekends" is a good and valid reason not to work on weekends. However that doesn't mean there won't be consequences to this, especially if you live in a country with poor labour laws.

I'd approach it this way:

Hello Manager!

I understand that due to the nature of the work we work shifts. However as stated previously due to personal reasons I'm no longer able to take work on the weekends.

I'll talk to my colleagues to see if any of them prefers to work weekends, I'm sure we can find a solution to this problem together.

I hope we can continue working together but if being available on weekends is a hard requirement then I'll accept the termination

(DO NOT mention resigning, as if you're in USA that can make you ineligible for benefits, make them fire you). If you need the job - skip last paragraph.

But in short: if store/company is open on weekends and manager is needed to be present on weekends, you might need to accept demotion or have to change job if you can't manage to get someone to cover weekends consistently.

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    If you need the job - skip the message altogether and take back your place in the rotation, including on weekends.
    – jcaron
    Aug 24, 2022 at 22:54
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    " "I don't want to work on weekends" is a good and valid reason not to work on weekends. " It would have been a valid reason to not take on the obligation, but it is not a valid reason to abruptly walk away from the obligation. Aug 25, 2022 at 3:07
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    @Acccumulation Do you somehow know more then I do? Because based on the OPs post there was no explicit obligation to do anything. The fact that he used to work on weekends does not imply he has to work on weekends. Aug 26, 2022 at 8:41
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    @jcaron The fact that you need a job does not mean you have to be a doormat, you can be assertive and look for a solution that works for everyone Aug 26, 2022 at 8:43
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    @Acccumulation And if you are a casual worker in America it seems generally that hardly any obligations are spelled out as a lot of jobs are based on a verbal agreement only! Aug 27, 2022 at 4:39
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TL;DR

Manager is mad that I can no longer work on weekends for family reasons

False.

Your manager is actually mad because they trusted you to become a shift manager and you decided to throw that trust out the window by still acting like a casual.


I recently became a shift manager and used to be a casual crew.

Very nice, congrats!

I changed my availabilities and no longer able to work on weekends due to family reasons.

Was this coordinated with relevant parties?

My manager replied with this:
“Hi ****, why have you taken out all weekends?”

Well, that answers my previous question...No.

“Yeah I sadly had to. My family asked me to be free on weekends as they need my help.”

Yes, needs arise all the time.

“What do you mean? Unfortunately that won’t work with the roster as it isn’t fair to not help out on weekends for the rest of the team.”

It sounds like you have a job which expects weekend work. Was this family need pre-existing or did it perfectly coincide and manifest when you became a shift manager?

If it was pre-existing then how did you manage weekends before the promotion.

If it's a new need then you should have spoken to your superior to explore possible solutions.

How should I deal with this?

I assume this translates to "How do I get what I want?" and if what your want is free weekends then being promoted to a customer is one solution I can think of.

You're gonna have to backpedal and start asking for forgiveness. You seem to have had a false assumption of unilateral power when becoming a shift manager.

I already gave a valid reason which explains it and I can’t do anything about it.

I disagree, for all I know your family is really into birds and need your help bird watching every weekend.

You should have communicated your needs before changing the roster. Now you'll have to claw back respect from both your subordinates and your superior; that is not a situation which I envy.

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    that is not a situation which I envy really sums this up. I've never seen this happen, shift managers have direct influence and interaction both up and down management chains, possibly more influence than any other role. This was a bad place to rock the boat, all eyes are on you and there is no one else to pass this on to. Aug 26, 2022 at 2:28
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    Very bad answer. Employment is not equal to paid slavery. Even company may be fully right here and employee may be fully wrong, Still it is employee right to decide upon his life and career priorities. If that involves free weekends and as result searching another job, then it is okay, If it involves to talk with manager/boss and clear doubts politely then it is also okay. "Start asking forgiveness" AND "bird watching" This is seriously offensive. Aug 26, 2022 at 13:45
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I recently became a shift manager and used to be a casual crew. I changed my availabilities...

The biggest problem here is the process. In the past (when you were casual crew), if you wanted to change your availability you would have first needed to communicate this to your managers. This might have been an email or informal chat, but it would have been a discussion and you would likely have entered into this discussion before the next period roster was allocated.

I would suggest that your manager is not necessarily mad, but you have certainly caught them off-guard, blindsided even. Understandably their response is always going to be short and sharp, just as your change to availability was short. (zero notice is very short indeed!)

  • What is often worse is that these issues a commonly raised by your subordinates. Perhaps they noticed an increase in weekend work, but that you were no longer on shift, perhaps it was during a shift that they wanted to complain but you were not available when the previous manager was...

Just because you are now a manager, does not mean that this process no longer applies to you, in-fact in many workplaces if you are a shift manager you now have greater responsibility to cover shifts if there are no-shows or otherwise high demand, and you will need to do so with less or zero notice.

  • Generally, this expectation should be documented in your new employment contract, however in many workplaces it is an established normal practice. Think about it, when not enough crew show up for a shift, who is left to step in?

  • You can't just change the roster and not expect to have to justify or discuss this action with anyone.

  • By changing the roster/availability before authorizing this change, you are flaunting your new power over everyone else and you are sending a message that you are above reproach.

Having the privilege of managing the roster does not make you the final step in the chain of command, you still have a manager, at all levels in employment hierarchies if you need to alter your workload this will affect your direct manager, when you cannot perform your task then they will need to do so. This is why we call this a chain-of-command. We are all linked loosely, if we all do our job then the chain doesn't pull too tightly on upper management, but each link along the chain aggregates the links before it. If a manager feels that one of the links in the chain below them is not working, or at least is not contributing to lightening the load, then that link is usually the next one to be replaced.

My family asked me to be free on weekends as they need my help

In many industries, to accommodate a request like this from family when there is a general expectation or requirement to work on the weekends, would require us to step down a level. Lots of people would love the opportunity to take weekends off, but in some industries and services this isn't really possible, especially if the weekends are an important revenue or productivity stream to the business.

This all doesn't mean that you can't take the weekends off, but as the shift manager and a position of power and authority over other staff members, you will be under more scrutiny than before. Than means you have to pre-empt reactions to any changes you might want to make, you have to mitigate the issues before they arise. You are after all a manager now... The biggest thing we have to manage is expectations.

Unfortunately that won’t work with the roster as it isn’t fair to not help out on weekends for the rest of the team.

You really should have seen this response coming, put yourself in the shoes first of your subordinate crew members, what message does it send when the manager tells them to work every weekend, but the manager is never there. Then put yourself in the shoes of your manager, when someone calls in sick on Sunday, who is going to open the shop or answer the phones? Who is going to pick up the slack?

If you want to keep this role and take the weekends off, then you need to implement a process to deal with your absence. Once off here and there is fine, you're a team that can adapt, but this adds a lot of stress to the system. If it is a regular or known occurrence, then we just need to plan up front that all actors in this plan can be ready for.

Find a way to make this a win-win proposition and take this to your manager, requesting the weekends off. Perhaps you will put in extra time in other areas as a trade-off, in Australia we often refer to this as time-in-lieu, overtime without taking any extra money for it. They might decide not to accept your proposal, they might have one of their own, or ultimately this might mean that you are no longer a candidate for the role you have been promoted into and may need to step down.

But it is a common courtesy that you engage in an active discussion about a change that you want to impose on everyone else before you apply that change. To do otherwise is to be a dictator, even autocracies are based on a concept of consent. Consent is essentially the difference between Autocracy and Dictatorship. If your organisation is one that champions democracy, then consensus is the difference.

  • So far you have not sought consent nor consensus on this change of yours, so your actions in terms of leadership style are by definition, that of a dictator.

So your manager might be mad, they didn't realise or expect that they were promoting someone who would turn out to be a dictator ;)

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