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Scheduled to Work on My Vacation

July 12, 2012

I wait tables at a restaurant where we don’t have a lot of say over our work schedule. Time-off requests are taken but usually not fulfilled. If you get scheduled and need time off, it’s your responsibility to find someone to take your shift. Same thing goes if you’re sick. Later this month, I’m planning a trip to visit my mom who lives in another state. I requested the time off and was told ‘we’ll have to see’. Now the schedule is out, and guess what—I’m supposed to work the weekend of my planned trip. I’m afraid that I won’t be able to find someone to work my shifts. It feels like they’re making me choose between my job and my mom.

— Missing My Mommy, Denver

Answer:

Wow, I wonder how all the moms who go to your restaurant would feel about this—my mom would ask (loudly and preferably so everyone around her could hear): ‘What is wrong with you? Does your mom know you work this way? Get your priorities straight!’ Sounds like this guy is just lazy; most workplaces can figure this out. I also wonder how restaurant patrons would feel if they knew that their servers are working sick because they have no earned sick days and they can’t find their own replacement. There’s amazing information on working sick.

I would try pulling people together from the restaurant where you work. Have the meeting in a neutral space so everyone will be comfortable speaking freely. If enough folks have similar concerns to you—put together a list of priorities and go talk to your supervisor as a group. Even in the absence of a union, most employees in the private sector are covered by the National Labor Relations Act which protects employees who join together to challenge workplace practices.