Schedule Accommodation

I need some advice on where you draw the line between trying to accomodate individuals who need to have their schedules accomodated for various reasons. One of the biggest is picking up children. One of our cath labs in our medical facility runs from 6:30 AM - 5:00 PM and someone has to be in the lab until 5PM. One of our techs has requested to leave at 4:30 one day a week to pick up one of his children because his day care worker will not keep children after 5PM. He said it may not necessarily be the same day each week (which would be another scheduling problem). He is not getting satisfaction from his supervisor who states that "I have 13 other people who will be asking for favors." He came to me and stated that others in the department have been given special privileges. He cited two people (female) who were covered under FMLA because of pregnancy issues. He cited a couple of others who were part time people whose schedules can more easily be manipulated than a full time individual. I did find out that a full time secretary in the department has been allowed to flex her schedule to pick up grandchildren.

I guess my question is: how far does a company have to go to accomodate individuals where the company needs for the individual to work a certain schedule. It's nice to be able to accomodate requests, but people with children (such as this individual) feel that this gives them some special privilege to have their schedules flexed. As I explained to the employee (because he brought up the fact that not everyone in his department had kids) that even though not everyone had kids, there may be other reasons just as important to them where they might request a special accomodation. Having children does not give anyone an edge over anyone else as far as scheduling requests. contention now is since accomodations have been made in the past for an employee in that department (she is a white female), we will have to try to accomodate this individual (black male). If it makes any difference, these individuals have entirely different functions in the department. But I know if we force another employee to work for this individual purely to pick up his children, we are going to have a very unhappy group of people.

Any advice would be appreciated.


  • 11 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • From your post I'm understanding that you need "someone" there until 5PM but how many do you need? If possible, my suggestion would be to create a rotating schedule thereby allowing ALL individuals within the department to leave early one day. This is something that would truly boost morale and get away from the mindset that those individuals without children are getting the shaft. Speaking as someone without children, it sometimes gets to me the accomodations people with children expect employers to make with the assumption that those without children can stay and pick up the slack. If this is something that is possible, I would inform this individual that he must have a set schedule of picking up his child to allow others the same opportunity to leave early.

    I have seen this done in other companies and the reports I have heard is that it works well.

    Just an opinion - hope it helps.
  • My guess from you post is that the lab techs worked staggered shifts since the lab opens at 6:30 and closes at 5:00. Some may start work at 6:30 and leave by 3:00 or 3:30 with others starting around 8:00 or 8:30 with a quit time of 5:00. If this assumption is correct, how do you determine who starts early and who starts late? Could this employee start with the early group, or could he get someone from the early group to switch with him on the one day that he has to pick up his child. That would be a classic example of people working together to each other out. Of course, if you don't allow people to switch like that then this suggestion may not work, or, you can consider allowing that on a department-wide basis.
  • I know how challenging this can be for folks. First off I think you need to talk with the supervisor, see if they would have any problem if the employees worked this out themselves. If he/she does not I would then talk to the employee and put the burden on him to talk to and work with his co-workers in finding a solution to this problem. SOunds like he might need to find another daycare provider? Of course I am sure this is not even something that has been considered.
    My $0.02 worth.
    DJ The Balloonman
  • All good responses as I knew they would be. There is a rotating schedule for this lab and I have since found that they would be willing to work with him one day a week for leaving early, but he would need to make arrangements to work himself into the schedule where he would have to stay late one day a week. The manager advised me that he was not willing to do this. I had also advised him about the day care situation - that he may want to change his child to a more ameanable daycare situation. Of course,he did not want to do that either I can't believe in a society where the vast majority of people work until at least 5PM, that this daycare would expect children to be picked up no later than 5PM. appears that we have offered accomodations, but what we have offered doesn't appeal to him. I think we have done our part in offering what we can and still keep the clinic open for patients. Thanks guys!
  • Could/would he be willing to come in early for someone? And would they be willing to work late for him? Absent of that, I would tell him he has to work out a way to work late one night. Everyone else is doing it and he should too. Can a friend pick the child up? Neighbor? I can sympathize with you. I used to run a pediatric practice with three locations and 10 doctors, including staffing from 7a-10p M-F and 8a-5p Sat and Sun. All ee's were female, the majority had children. I accomodated everyone and it made my life a living hell trying to schedule. Can you say ulcers?

    You also need to look at the receptionist's situation. I bet the two situations are not apples to apples.
  • [font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 03-13-03 AT 10:13AM (CST)[/font][p]I really don't have anything to add to the responses. The issue here is one of the increasing need that employees have to find some sort of balance with the work and out of work needs, and children are the number one issue. There are some people who will try to take advantage of flexibility but most are honestly trying to balance their life. The manager in your situation seems to be somewhat inflexible, but we can't tell that from long distance, and the sex/race issue may be there. You will probably have an employee who will leave or start looking for another job, the cost of being inflexible and too bad if it is the result of a manager who could be flexible if he/she really wanted to be.

    To answer your first question, no one has to accomodate to an employee at all, short of not violating some sort of regulation or law by doing so. The result, of course, will be an unhappy work force and turnover.
  • I agree with Gillian and want to add that what you have here is NOT a question of 'How far do we have to go to accommodate?', rather it's a dilemma for the organization of 'whether or not to operate departmentally with flex schedules'. Flex schedules exist largely, as far as I know, for one reason; to reasonably accommodate employee's lives and demands, thereby making employees happy, thereby increasing effeciency and improving outcomes. Sounds like the company has sorta flexed and unflexed, then not-flexed, now wondering if they have to flex. Either have a flex policy or don't if departmentally you can operate and provide excellent customer service while doing so. I like the 'you guys go work it out' approach to this one. As long as the company allows flex schedules within parameters, each department head should be charged with the responsibility for not letting it get wrapped around the axle.
  • Rockie,
    Does he have a position where he has to be there til 5:00 every day? When we have a scheduling problem here and need to leave early, if it's only 30 minutes like this gentlement, why not have him only take a 30 min. lunch? Then he can leave early, and still have his 8 hours? Just a thought, if he doesn't want to stay late..I would think there would be some way both parties could come to terms over 30 minutes..
    Hope you get to work it out.
  • Of course, I found out there is "more" to this story than what the employee told me. There is a rotating schedule in the department because someone has to be there until 5PM. I found out that he only has to be there until 5 PM one day a week and he does not want to do this. This is the reason the staff is in an unroar because they feel if they need to take a turn, that he needs to take his turn as well, regardless of his family situation.

    We try very hard to work out things with employees, but each employee has to realize that he is also a part of a team and cannot take advantage of others.
    Also, when you have responsibilities for direct patient care, it's a little different than some jobs where you can just leave.
  • You can only work so much with employees. It is unfortunate that your employee cannot recognize that he has a responsibility, not only to his children but to his employer as well. I don't think requiring the employee to work until 5PM one day a week is asking alot and I don't blame the co-workers for being upset. My opinion is that you have been as accomodating as you can be and it's up to him to make some decisions.
  • Rockie,
    Based on ...the rest of the story.....I say tell him to bad. He either takes his turn like everyone else or he can look for work elsewhere. I find is common that the most inflexible people tend to be the ones who demand flexibility to accomodate their desires. With this last little tidbit your supervisor does not sound as inflexible as we all thought!
    My $0.02 worth.
    DJ The Balloonman
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