My boyfriend wanted this coming Saturday off but didnt get it off on the normal schedule.

So he asked a co-worker to trade shifts with him, and found one who was willing to exchange Saturday for Sunday. His manager told him he couldn't switch with another employee without getting the manager's signoff.

Can managers require workers who are agreeing to trade shifts to get supervisor sign off first?


Yes, they certainly can.

Some employees have differing levels of experience, and are being scheduled in a way to ensure that there is always someone with enough to handle certain kind of situations.

Some companies also have to manage how many hours individuals work in a given period. In the US, it's common to try to schedule hours so that no hourly-pay individual works more than 40 hours in a defined "one-week" period, and switching days could shift hours such that one week has fewer, but another has over 40, which the manager may not want (because it usually triggers overtime pay).

Also, managers need to know who will be working when.

In short:

  • This is common practice
  • It is certainly legal in the US (and I'd guess almost everywhere)
  • There are legitimate, good reasons behind it
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    @user16111 Please accept the answer if it was helpful by click on the tick mark on the left side of this answer. – Bleeding Fingers Feb 21 '14 at 18:39
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    This, exactly. When I was a supervisor at a grocery store, we actually had to instigate this rule because all the younger employees who couldn't sell alcohol liked to switch shifts with the older employees so they could work together. Then we'd have one supervisor trying to handle an entire fleet of under-agers who couldn't sell alcohol all night. It also makes it impossible for the supervisor to go on break because there's no one old enough to cover it. frustrating – animuson Feb 21 '14 at 18:47
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    Not only could they not sell alcohol, but you also had to deal with an entire shift of under-agers. I'm not entirely sure which one I would hate more. – corsiKa Jul 8 '14 at 0:51

Yes, they can. In addition to the other answers detailing the reasons why that makes sense from the companies point of view, I would like to add why this makes sense from the employees point of view:

You need to make sure your company knows you are working that day. Although probably this is different from country to country, there are insurances that cover most of what you do. Get into a car accident? Insurance. Got hurt at home? Different insurance. Got hurt at work? Yet a different insurance again.

Lets say you get into your car on your way to work and you have an accident. Where I live, this is covered by the "got hurt at work" insurance, because it happened on your way to work. If however, the insurance company can get it's hands on a testimonial from your manager, stating (quite correctly, because you never let him know) that you were not supposed to work that day, guess who is more than happy to not pay your costs.

So having your manager sign off the change in plans is required for the safety of both parties, the company and the employee.

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Yes, shift swap should be taken approval from manager. Because manager has to be aware of who is working in the shift and there can be a reason how the roster was initially prepared. Some engineer may be needed that day.

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    Hi Madhava, welcome to The Workplace. On our site, we typically look for answers that dive a little deeper into the subject matter. While this is a good start, would you be able to edit and expand on this? One of the best ways to improve a post is to include references or to talk about an experience that happened to you personally. – jmort253 Feb 22 '14 at 7:47

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