Looking for a solution to this employee problem

In about the past 6 months I’ve managed to peice together a pretty decent crew that is fairly good about showing up for work. Dont know how it happened, but they seem to realize that when they call in, and are unable to show up for work, the rest of the crew has to take up the extra work because they couldnt be there, so most of the time, I believe that everyone really tries to show up for their shift. I’ve gotten to where I dont really have to be at the store unless I want to be, however, there are those times when an employee is actually sick, or some emergency happens and they cant be there. This happend twice this week, (flu bug maybe?) and I had to cover their shifts on both occasions. Normally this wouldnt be a big deal, however, I am looking at purchasing another business that will be taking a lot of my time again, and wont be able to cover sick employees shifts. At one point, I made a rule that If the employee wasnt able to work their shift for whatever reason, it was their responsibility to find someone to work it for them. The problem with this is that the other employess always tell the sick employee that they cant cover for them, or they just dont answer their phones. I know for a fact that if I try to call someone from the store phone, they never answer because everyone has caller ID now. Call them from a cell phone that they dont recognize the number, and they answer. Both days I had to cover, I tried to call other people in, both times no one answered. I’m needing to find a solution to this problem so I can move to other things. Anyone able to share how they deal with this issue?


The next time an employee is looking for a raise that you agree with, make it contingent on being on call one day per week. Actually write on their scedule the day they are on call and treat it like a day they are scheduled. It’s just as important that they answer their phone on that day as it is to show up on time on days they are working. I’ve just last week started doing this so I really don’t know how well it will work in the long term. I do now have 2 days a week covered with me not being the first one on call.

How do you compenste the employee for being on call? I would think that if they are not scheduled to work then the time is theirs to go and do what they please. I know that any job that i have had that required me to be on call has always paid a premium for the privilege of me being at their beck and call. Unless they are salaried employees that know it is part of the responsibilities of the position i would think that some form of standby pay should be given.

How do you compenste the employee for being on call? I would think that if they are not scheduled to work then the time is theirs to go and do what they please. I know that any job that i have had that required me to be on call has always paid a premium for the privilege of me being at their beck and call. Unless they are salaried employees that know it is part of the responsibilities of the position i would think that some form of standby pay should be given.

The compensation comes with every hour they are working. They are given a raise to compensate them for the possibility that on a specifically scheduled day they might be called in. If they do get called in, they will be compensated for these hours at their overtime (time and a half) rate.

AFAIK, there is no requirement to pay employees to be on standby if they voluntarily agree to it. I have searched federal and my state law and could not find anything. I would think that many would agree to it because of the overtime if they came in.

I don’t think there are any laws that compell you to pay standby pay. I was just saying that to expect someone to be on a scheduled call list you may want to compensate for that. Paul has done that in the form of a conditional raise another way would be to pay a dollar amount per day.

I schedule all employees “on-call” or O/C on the schedule with the understanding that if they don’t recieve a call by 6 pm, the on call status expires…seems 2 work…

Our on call policy is that any employee that is scheduled to work must call by 9 am if a morning shift and 3 pm if night shift to inform us of a no show. I don’t see making an on-call employee wait all night to determine if they can make plans or not. I’ve been in that situation and it sucks when friends or family want to make plans but you have to tell them “well I have to wait to 5 before I will know”.

Ahhh the dilema of the decade. We have never tried the on call thing.

Our employees are required to be at work and if they aren’t they must have a doctor’s note or a replacement.

We used to be a bit more lenient but since we opened our second location we have found we can’t be a fill in everywhere all the time. Our employees also know we will not call them unless it is an emergency, most of the time they answer the phone. We will also owe them a “favor” for when something special comes up and they may need off we will schedule them off.

If an employee has something “fun” come up they are told on their first day…I would rather you call and be honest with me…if there is any possible way we can get you off we will, but if you call and lie to me that your sick or your grandma died for the 3rd time you will be terminated for being dishonest.

Most of the time this approach seems to work, and when it doesn’t it is an example to the other employees.

Just this past Sat one of our drivers called 1 hour past their scheduled time and said her car was broke and they were working on it all morning…little did she know another employee has just stopped in and said “Jen hasn’t made it in yet? I just dropped her off, we had a late night”

She was terminated. Sure we will be short for a couple of days but I want a team with integrity and a liar is not a person I want on the team.


I should have knocked on some wood when I posted the above post…

Right after posting I stop by one of our locations to pick up the schedule to cover the terminated employee. The manager says “Oh I have the schedule done through Nov 5” I was like,huh? (We do it weekly)

Come to find out she is taking another (unpaid) vacation. This will be the 4th week this year. What??? I said no way she said you already okayed it. I said no I oked you off halloween not the whole week. She said I got my schedule covered so what difference does it make?

So my question to ya’ll is am I unreasonable to say no. Yes in a way she has it covered, but still with some loose ends, lots of loose ends now that we lost a driver.

Also while I am there an employee who is one of our highest paid employees is asking off for Dec30-Jan 2. We are closed New year’s day but have no requests for the 31st. When I reminded him of this he said you better get it covered cuz I won’t be here. I wanted to tell him to get out right then…but instead said do what you gotta do and I will do what I gotta do…I am half tempted to go back and go off…what would you do?

Next time you can be assured I will be knocking on wood!


I am going to be honest, and a bit blunt. PLEASE do not take anything directed as personal, because it is not intended to be such, and under this new pain medicine I have…well, I will try to make this as to the point as possible.

I am learning a LOT while I am sitting here at home nursing this back injury, and I think as a humble employee, that this insight might help you owner/ops, and that’s why I want to share my thoughts.

For Kris…so, the manager has snuck in another vacation. If you do not have a limit on vacations, paid or otherwise, it’s part your oversight…so get something into writing now to prevent this in the future. 4 weeks of UPTO to me says “my work is interefering into my personal life” and I would be really concerned that this person is setting a very bad example for my crews.

While I honestly don’t think a “no” would be unreasonable, she might, and may leave you or cause other strains in your working relationship…so if it truly is covered, I’d probably let this one go, with a firm notice that any future time off, paid or unpaid, MUST be submitted to you in writing with your written approval in return before it is EVER posted to the schedule.

I have been off work for 3 months now, but I am on medical leave, and give my boss detailed progress reports (sometimes lack of progress reports haha), and even with the proof, even though I’ve been promised a return regardless of when I can, I do NOT expect it.

It appears she is taking her position for granted, I guess is what I’m trying to say.

As for the highest paid employee having NYE off. Well, it is in plenty of notice. He’s your best paid employee, so I assume to be given the title of the best paid employee, it comes with reasons, such as never calling in, always staying 'til the job is done, going above and beyond expectations, etc, right?

If so, then what WILL giving HIM the time off hurt when that day is included in a week that he is requesting off?

See, I give 110% to any job I ever work, and this back injury coming back to the forefront and me having to actually be off has given me “too much” time to think.

See, I am the doer…the thinker…the dependable one…the one to call in when chips are down. I am the one when working who you hardly EVER see a pizza get mis-made on a Friday night (maybe once every 2 or 3 months). Right now, they make about 5 to 10 mistakes a Friday.

I am also the one who gets all the hours, working every weekend, etc, because my boss knew he could depend on me to get the job done, and get it done right. I have kids and a life, too…so quite frankly, sometimes it can feel like you’re punished for being good, and I think that many of the younger kids have caught on to that and that’s why you get the crap work you get sometimes.

I guess what I am trying to say after all this medicated rambling is that if you really are wanting to develop a crew of excellent employees…reward those of us who DO step up with things that mean something to us. For that one guy…it’s NYE off. For me, it might be a free pizza to take home inbetween paychecks to my family.

It gets hard watching those like that woman at my establishment who is my arch nemesis (I have heard so many things she’s said about me behind my back) get paid more to do less, get the “glory” of it (hello, I got the 200 pie order and she tried to take the credit just because it was a school who called me, and that’s who she started dealing with AFTER that order) by higher titles and more priviledge.

If any of that makes sense…hallelujah! haha

I just hope that it helps you see inside the minds of those who do still take pride in their jobs, and actually take “ownership” without being the actual owner. There are people out there like me and others who really DO care about your business…if it wasn’t for you, we wouldn’t be out there, and vice versa.

I just quoted you. I wonder, what family member is worth more than your business. your sweat and your reputation? Either hang it up dude or do it yourself and gain back the respect you earned.

BTW, I have been there and it was a difficult moment but my family member did not invest the time I did nor the money, so I fired him.


I see where Kristi is coming from in her post about written expectations and rewarding valued employees with privileges. I am right there with the value of both.

I quoted out the above to highlight that there is a little more going on with the manager than just having no limit on unpaid leave in a policy manual. The “so what difference does it make” comment lets leak out a little underlying defiance/rogue element. You have an employee slipping off the chain of respect and accepting your authority. It is probably not a big deal if limits are put in place now. The obvious answer is that her supervisor has questioned her judgment in taking an (unapproved?) unpaid leave WEEK when the company is adjusting to cover a terminated employee. Those who disagree with me . . . look at the fact that the schedule was done out three weeks instead of the customary one.

Definitely get something in writing right away and have her sign it. State that unpaid leave by manager MUST ALWAYS be approved. Sure, it may have made fiscal sense to her, but there was a lot of effort to arrange this leave without you knowing anything about it.

Same sort of thing with the valued employee and New Year’s Eve. This isn’t about valuing him and giving him time he requested. He has been outright defiant in his response, “you better get it covered cuz I won’t be here.” You can have your cake and eat it too. Give him the time off and then give him a written reprimand of insubordination for his response and failure to comply with the established rules.

If the store is running properly in the manager’s absence, I have no problem with them taking 4 weeks of unpaid time off.

So if the store is running properly without the manager what do you need the manager for?

QFT(quoted for truth)

as for my employees i let my crew get away with ribbing me but setting up a vacation and redoing scheduling around me, instead of coming to me about needing the time off would bother me, I pride myself on being very accomadating with my employees needs. and if they are willing to go behind my back to schedule themselves a vacation, it would make me wonder what else goes on behind my back, are steaks walking out of my walkin, are pizzas going to friends/family? my view on staffing is i take care of my crew, they take care of me, my core crew doesn’t call in unless they are on there death bed or in jail. in turn I do my best to make the kitchen a fun, exciting place to work, and make sure they are rewarded when they go above and beyond expectations. in addition I always try to teach them new things as far as cooking is concerned. once a cook gets bored/feels there job isn’t pushing them, they seem to get complacent, i don’t have time for complacent cooks, they get in the way, they hold up the crew.

ok i think im done ranting

The term “decimate” comes from the Roman army method of motivation, where 10% of the unit was “eliminated”. This served as a warning to the remaining 90% that substandard performance would not be tolerated.

Economic tough times have impacted sales negatively but have also produced a more hungry work force, as displaced workers are looking for work, and may actually appreciate what you have to offer more than some of your current staff.

Within the past two weeks, I had a staff shake up at one of my stores (the two store folly is a whole 'nother topic) , terminating the manager and another employee, while bringing in two new faces, both hungry for opportunity.

My what an impact it’s had on the crew, not just at that store, but at the other one as well (word travels)!

This is tough advice, and I wouldn’t have accepted it 5 years ago, but always remember…

Everyone has an agenda and most of the time, it isn’t yours!

I have been a loyal employer for over 14 years, and have had many, many loyal employees, but the bottom line is…this is my livelihood! To them, it’s still only a job. I wish I had understood that better a few years back before I opened a 2nd location!

Hire another employee or two and start some competition. It brings out the best! The power and ability to terminate (with documentation of course) is the greatest power you possess. As long as you can cover the shift, you retain that power.

Once you spread yourself across two businesses, you become dependent on others who have no “skin” in the game, and they know it. (They can always leave and leave you scrambling for solutions.)

I wish it wasn’t that way, but I wish a lot of things!

Well after some more research of the schedules found out it was 6 weeks this past year. We forgot about the 2 week stint we arranged for her so her boyfriend could fly her to vegas for valentines day.

Also noticed she had down she was taking the 2 days before thanksgiving & day after and then is normally off saturday and sunday.

Anyway went to talk to her and she said she would not be returning to work after her vacation and was quitting.

What an eye opener this is for me. I will definately get somehting put in place in writing about vacations.

Whoever posted about “what difference does it make” is right on. My eyes have been opened and this store needs our attention more than we realized. We have been so focused on the newer location we let her have the reigns and I think she got way to comfy with her job.

We have always prided ourselves in being flexible and understanding and encouraging that our employees have a life outside of restaurant but this is beyond that. I too am begining to wonder what else I don’t know.

I think change is good sometimes.

As for the other employee we will see how it goes. If I can get him off, I will but if not I will revert back to the policy he has signed the last 4 years which states no requests for those days. I will also have a chat with him.

Thanks for the insight you all gave us.


My eyes have been opened and this store needs our attention more than we realized. We have been so focused on the newer location we let her have the reigns and I think she got way to comfy with her job.

In the Navy, it was called the ROAD program (retired on active duty).

A store without a manager is better than a weak or complacent one. The manager sets the tone (culture) of the store when you’re not there, and should represent you well not just to the customer, but to the staff as well.

It’s a bit depressing when you realize how much you paid them for it.

Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds:
for riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations.
Proverbs 27:23-24

The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming,
he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it.
John 10:12

The store is not going to run properly forever without a manager. But a properly managed store relies heavily on employee self-management.