Recognize and Avoid Scheduling Abuse

September 30, 2020 | 675 views

Recognize and Avoid Scheduling Abuse
Recognize and Avoid Scheduling Abuse

If you’re reading this, you probably are a conscientious manager who tries to schedule employees in the best way possible. And yet, employees often complain about poor scheduling or how managers who take advantage of them.

Last year’s Schedules that Work Act brought additional focus to scheduling workers equitably. It is labor-friendly legislation, and managers must follow its rules to avoid lawsuits from employees.

On the flip side, it is also possible for employees to manipulate schedules to their advantage. When this happens, it creates inequity among staff and exposes organizations to scrutiny and possible legal backlash. Employers must watch for signs of scheduling abuse, no matter the source.

What to Look For

Employees might influence their schedules in several ways that create inconsistencies among staff. They might always ask for a particular night off, or avoid shifts that include more difficult responsibilities like stocking inventory. Maybe someone regularly asks to leave early or has a lot of other last-minute schedules changes. If an employee habitually manipulates schedules like this, it causes other employees to have to carry the weight. Clearly, that is not equitable scheduling practice. It might not end up in a legal battle, but it will definitely lead to employees who are disgruntled because they are left with the tougher shifts.

When employers abuse schedules, it includes mismanagement of things like split shifts and on-call scheduling. Sometimes, a manager is consistently late to cancel a shift or post a schedule as required by law. Then, employees do not have enough notice to work anywhere else or make other plans. Other times, a shift gets extended past its original end-time without notifying the employee that it could happen or, worse, because a manager allowed another employee to go home early.

What to Do About It

Correcting employee or employer schedule inequities is important for the whole team. And several considerations affect your organization:

  1. An employee handbook. A clear policy on scheduling should be part of every employee handbook. That way, employees can be held accountable for their behavior outside of the company policy.
  2. Employee preferences. Some employees want extra hours but others are not as flexible. Students will have specific days and times that are unavailable. Parents might prefer a later start on school days. Get to know your employees so that you can work with their preferences before it becomes an issue. They themselves can even input their availability for managers to utilize.
  3. Scheduling Software. Use a good program that helps streamline scheduling. It can block out an employee’s unavailable days and also communicate when there are extra hours available. Based on organizational needs, employees can make schedule change requests directly, making it easier to fill the shift.

Good employees and employers want to have appropriate schedules that are helpful for both parties. But abuses can happen that put organizations at risk. Be vigilant, look for abusive patterns, and minimize legal risks with clear policies and reliable scheduling tools.

Author Profile Jon Forknell is the Vice President and General Manager of Atlas Business Solutions, Inc., a software marketing company specializing in employee scheduling software, including ScheduleBase employee scheduling software, and other business software solutions. In the past, Jon has been recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as a SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Atlas Business Solutions was named as one of Software Magazine’s Top 500 Software Companies in 2004 through 2007, and 2010, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2018.

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