What is your policy on requested days off?

I am curious how people handle employee requests for time off. My staple has been as long as you give a 2 weeks heads up we will comply with your request. Over the last year or so it has become a substantial issue where employees seem to be taking more and more weekends off. As an example, I have one employee who requests a weekend off about every 5 weeks or so. To me it seems excessive and I am looking for some input on what you consider excessive requests for time off and how you handle it.

Where I am the labor laws lay out the requirements for vacation time. The first year is one week (5 shifts maximum) the second to fourth years is two weeks (10 shifts maximum) If the request falls within these requirements I am obligated to honor them. If the request does not I insist the employee find a replacement for the shift.

It has been my experience the people who are always wanting extra shifts off rarely will cover others. In time this comes back to haunt them because they can’t find a replacement.

It should also be noted that I work off a fixed schedule. When the employee is hired I assign their work schedule. They work the same shifts every week. Each staff member is required to work either a Friday or a Saturday shift.

We try to honor requests and we also tend to run pretty much the same schedule from week to week.

If someone is always asking for different days off we explain that we have shifts to cover and if they are not available for the shifts we need covered we will need to hire someone who is available and then THAT employee will have those shifts from week to week.

I had a staff member that just didn’t grasp the concept of demand. They would say they could make up the missed hours on Monday they just really need Friday night off.

That made me laugh I thought I was the only one who had employees asking to make up hours on Mondays

There has to be give and take in the process. The store needs to cover shifts according to business requirements. Employees have lives away from work and they need a certain amount of income to pay bills. The goal is to find the place where those needs line up… where the employee gets the hours they need to pay bills and is willing to be available when the business needs hours covered. If it gets too problematic for the employee to get the hours they need they seek another job, if the business cannot cover the shifts they need covered it seeks another employee.

The concept is pretty simple but you can not count on an employee “getting it” without an explanation. These things are best done in advance (upon hiring) and regularly. I want my employees to know that I am committed to providing a work place that respects them and their needs, is a safe and pleasant place to work, possibly is one where they can learn useful things… and in return, I need the requirements of the business met. That includes the obvious like quality work, customer service etc but it also includes being available to work at the times we agreed they would be available with reasonable exceptions.

Speaking of not understanding things… I once had an employee tell me that I was getting rich “making” thousands of dollars a week… referring to sales. No clue. I explained food cost, his paycheck, rent, utilities, advertising, insurance etc all had to covered, Response? “Wow, that’s a lot”