Hired but no hours?
March 29, 2012 9:25 AM   Subscribe

I have a couple of friends who were hired at retail and fast food places but have never been put on the actual schedule, even after months go by and they follow up with the manager. Is this an employers way of laying someone off? What is the purpose of hiring someone if you don't put them on the schedule? Any ideas about how my friends can advocate for more hours? Thanks so much!
posted by tessalations999 to Work & Money (13 answers total)
To be clear, they have not worked any hours? Or the work has just been intermittent and they haven't had any regular hours?
posted by Jahaza at 9:29 AM on March 29, 2012

One of them has not worked any hours, and two have worked one time over a few month period. thanks!
posted by tessalations999 at 9:32 AM on March 29, 2012

My first thought is that having "phantom employees" on the payroll lowers the location's average hours per worker, as a possible method of obscuring specific (favorite?) employees that get more than their share of hours. Not sure if this is even a metric that corporations would use to measure anything though.

Perhaps they were hired but never properly trained? If that's the case, the manager probably can't or doesn't want to give an untrained employee hours, but also probably is too busy or lazy to actually train them.

Recommendation for your friends - keep in regular touch with the manager, but also get to know all the other employees. At many hourly jobs it's the worker's responsibility to find their own coverage if they can't work - so if your friends make friends with people who do have hours, they can at the very least cover a few shifts even if they don't have regularly scheduled shifts.
posted by trivia genius at 9:49 AM on March 29, 2012

In my experience this is usually the case of a manager not being direct and proffesional- in my youth I got taken off the schedule by a family friend who didn't have the guts to tell me to my face it wasn't a good fit. I also think places sometimes over hire because of no- shows, but don 't always use the people they hire if the first ones work out.
posted by momochan at 9:52 AM on March 29, 2012

This happened to me at a retail job I had one summer in high school. In that case there were two managers in charge (recipe for disaster!) and one of them massively overhired; the other one was worried about having enough coverage for hours, but didn't want to have any hiring above what they actually needed, so she kept people on payroll but never scheduled them (myself included).

In my case, I started getting hours once they let a few people go and bumped one of the managers down to a lower-level title. However, I would not recommend counting on that. IME this is a sign of questionable management, and your friends should start looking for different jobs.
posted by pie ninja at 9:55 AM on March 29, 2012

They are probably hiring them as backup for their current rotation of staff, or hired too many people. (Or your friends have, after being hired, come up with unreasonable schedule requests - I can only work on Friday evenings but only until 10pm sort of requests. But you'd probably know if that was the case.)

If I were in their position, I would immediately begin looking for another job while arranging to speak to my manager and asking frankly that given the past workless weeks if they actually have any hours for me, what their plans are for my continued employment there, etc. and I would try as hard as possible to get a concrete answer from them. So not just taking, "yes, we'll get something started soon" as an answer, but pinning down a day and time to come in to train or actually getting your name put in on the rotation with hours scheduled. If the manager was resistant, I'd let them know that while I would truly enjoy working for them, I'd be forced to look for another job soon if this one doesn't actually need me.
posted by vegartanipla at 9:59 AM on March 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

If I got hired at a retail place and still hadn't put in a single hour two months later, and had already asked the manager about it, I think I'd just assume that for some reason, they had made some sort of mistake and I did not actually work there. I'd just start looking for another job.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:01 AM on March 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

Former retail (assistant) manager here...

There's obviously some mismanagement going on here. Over-hiring can happen, but the lack of follow-up is a big red flag.

I'm going to guess that these are corporate, chain-type places. The scenario I most often saw play out would be something like:

1) Corporate/regional/district management rolls out Initiative X that will require expanded payroll. (Variation: said upper management orders stores to crack the whip on longer-term, higher-paid employees to drive them out and replace them with new hires.)
2) Store management hires new people before Initiative X rolls out, thinking that they're being smart by being proactive - makes for a smooth transition/rollout/whatever, right?
3) Initiative X is cancelled or delayed. Maybe it was a dumb idea to start with, or maybe there's a purge up the corporate ladder.* (Variation: Initiative X goes on as planned, but the extra payroll promised evaporates.)
4) Store management, who is probably absolutely miserable working for such a crap company, just keeps on as before and lets their newest employees slip gently out of sight/mind as they run around like headless chickens.

But there are other possible scenarios, all pretty much caused by unprofessionalism (and probably exacerbated by workplace chaos).

If your friends want hours, I would absolutely encourage them to visit with the manager who hired them and remind him/her that they exist - drop by at a non-busy time of day, and maybe bring a written copy of their available hours, current phone numbers/email, etc. Turnover is such in these industries that there's likely to be a need for a new body sooner rather than later, and someone you've already hired, even if it's only on paper, is more attractive than the prospect of going through applications again.

Seconding everybody who points out that this may not be the best place to work, of course, but getting hours out of a place that hired you already is probably going to be less miserable than continuing the job hunt!

PS: It is possible that your friends may have made themselves undesirable in some way. It is a not uncommon tactic in retail management to simply ignore a new hire who's turned out to be a big mistake - changes their availability, flakes out on showing up for the first shift, never answers the phone, etc. But I don't want to assume that about your friends; and even if it's true, it's still not the way to treat people.
posted by snoe at 10:11 AM on March 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

In addition to Federal stuff, there may be State or local cash or tax incentives to officially hire more people. It also keeps the real number of unemployed people lower than it should be. That keeps bureaucrats happier, makes the employer happier, and keeps your friends out of actual work.

I don't think they can advocate for 'more hours' or to even be put on the work schedule. They really are out of work. Find a new job, if possible.
posted by caclwmr4 at 10:16 AM on March 29, 2012

My Mom works retail, and she says at her store, if you're dumb, lazy, worthless, etc., they don't fire you, they just stop giving you hours.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:26 AM on March 29, 2012

I'd get someone to call up pretending to be checking references and ask to confirm their employment.
posted by jacalata at 11:57 AM on March 29, 2012

I worked in retail for nearly a decade, and snoe's post reflects my experience of this phenomenon quite accurately.
posted by celtalitha at 1:01 PM on March 29, 2012

Yes, these employers may have overhired, or maybe they don't like your friends. But the reason they don't just tell your friends that they don't actually need them anymore is because they do not want to pay unemployment, which they would have to do if they fired them. They would prefer for your friends to get the hint and quit.
posted by parrot_person at 10:24 PM on March 29, 2012

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