A reader writes:
I work at a small family-owned/operated restaurant. It's managed by the owners, who seem to have some really strange rules.
If we are sick, it is our responsibility to find someone to cover our shift. If we cannot find someone to cover our shift, we are to a) show up to work or b) provide a doctor's note. About 6 months ago, we had to sign a waiver stating that if we have a fever, diarrhea, and or vomiting, we are NOT to come to work.
This past week, we had a girl who was sick who called everyone who had the day off to cover for her, but nobody could do it. So, they have now posted a memo telling us that if we are sick and can't find anyone to cover our shift, we are to provide the boss with the names of everyone we called and the reason given for not being able to cover their shift. As far as I am concerned, it's my day off and it's nobody's business what I am doing, nor do I feel obligated to provide anyone with an explanation as to why I can't cover them on my day off. What can we as employees do about this? (Besides quit, I know that.) Is it just me, or is that just asking WAY too much out of your employees?
No, it's not just you. The people behind this rule are insane. And short-sighted and jerks.
I know that a lot of restaurants put the responsibility of finding someone to cover an already-scheduled shift on the employee. I think it's lame and it should be the manager's responsibility to get the shifts covered. People get sick. It happens. It's unfair and unkind to make a vomiting employee call all over town to try to get someone to cover for her.
I know that the reason for this type of policy is that they don't want people calling in sick when they really aren't, so they want to create a high bar to faking it -- but there are far better ways to handle that, through this little thing called good management: If someone is calling in sick at the last minute enough times that it's passed a reasonable point, the manger should handle it as a performance problem, explaining that they can't keep scheduling the person for shifts if they don't get more reliable. Instead, their current policy screams "We don't want to bother with having to be managers."
As for what you can do about it: Well, you can complain to the management. You'll have better luck if you do it in a group with other employees. You can also stop answering your phone on your days off if you think it might be a shift request. But ultimately, a manager who comes up with a policy like this is going to come up with plenty of other ways to screw you -- so I'd walk, and tell them why.