A couple of people had asked me to post about schedules in retail.
This piece is something I wrote about on another website in the past. Unfortunately, retail hasn't changed much.
So here it is...
Vice President - you met him in Diary One - doesn't like to be at the door to let people in very early on a Sunday morning (Yes, I'm sure you're shocked by that.)
Therefore, "Bob" who is a non-manager, is given the responsibility of letting in overnight and early staffers. It's very common for us to work without any managers or "assistant managers" in the facility. Bob is the go-to guy.
Bob also has the responsibility of printing everyone's work orders based on a just-in-time schedule. He's not in charge of creating the work orders, that's done out of state. He just prints them.
We never know what the work plan is for the day until we physically see our work order. The work order might "authorize" overtime, so you need to be available. If you're not available when overtime is asked, your hours are reduced as punishment.
The work orders can run hundreds of pages. This is harder than it ought to be for Bob to print because none of us, including Bob, are allowed a desk or computers of any kind. He usually asks a sympathetic back office person to leave a computer on for him, and then carries his paperwork around in cardboard boxes.
The work orders change every 24 hours. For example, members of the inventory control team might find out on Tuesday that they are working overnight that night. Or they might find out they need to show up on Wednesday at 2:30am to unload trucks.
Or a combination of both.
(One of the few changes for the better is that Corporate's insurance company no longer allows the facility to schedule work shifts less than X hours apart. It used to be pretty common).
Otherwise, the expectation is that all workers will be available at all times.
We have no full-timers amongst our number except Bob.
As scheduling is so fluid, the paychecks are variable. It's not unusual for me to have a difference of more than $150 in my weekly earnings from one week to another, or to have a few weeks at less than $100. On the best weeks, I'm scheduled to work a full 8 hours on a federal holiday, plus 32 hours of straight time: that can be nice money. On the other hand, for the weeks where I'm only scheduled for 8 hours split over two or three days, it's hardly worth the transportation cost to come in.
Even that wouldn't be so bad if we only knew ahead of time. Bob can sometimes guess: "Oh, for the last few years we have a sale on the Monday after Have a Solar System Day, so they'll probably schedule you for 6am to 10am to stock Suns, then you'll have off Tuesday. But the Other Team will probably have to work Tuesday night and you should be prepared to restock the entire Solar System on Wednesday. We'll probably be scheduled for eight hours of that beginning at 8am."
But those are only guesses at best. Bob is often right, but management likes to keep things "flexible" for "just-in-time inventory control", and therefore won't allow work orders to be issued more than 24 hours in advance.
It's all subject to change at any time; therefore, we don't know what our paycheck size will be either.
It's very hard to manage a budget when your hours are varied and your pay fluctuates. It's also hard to look for a second job, take a class, or socialize.