4 tips for negotiating employee time off requests fairly

May 4, 2018

Yup, negotiating employee time off for pet bereavement is a thing

This article was updated and revised from May 23rd, 2014

Summer is drawing close. It’s the season for weddings, vacations and time home with the kids. Plus, employees need time for pet bereavement, “unsick” days and protesting. Wait. What? Yes, believe it or not, companies like Facebook and Google give employees paid time off for those things too. As the weather heats up, negotiating employee time off becomes a hot topic. Prepare yourself ahead of time with these 4 tips.

1.) Building relationships first

Of course, you would never employ salespeople you don’t trust. Trusted employees become ambassadors for your store. They invest themselves in your business and become a part of it’s success. However, along with trust, an employer needs to invest in their staff personally. Your staff will “go the extra mile” when you acknowledge there’s life outside of work. In their article, Employee relations – Inspiring loyalty, the HR firm Executive Advantage stresses the importance of making a connection with your employees. “Connection involves reaching into the employee’s heart and finding their passions, talents, core values and motivations,” they write. When you make that personal investment, negotiating employee time off becomes a matter of what’s best for the business first. Unfortunately, some will abuse your trust, but a loss of freedom changes that quickly.

2.) Put it in writing

If you already have a written policy in place, you’re miles ahead. Your employees want to know you’re a fair employer. So the best way to communicate is to spell everything out in writing. An employee training manual that states your policies regarding duties, sales procedures and requests for time off is essential. List any dates that are exempt from vacations such as the shopping period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Explain how vacation time is accrued. Most of all, indicate clearly what is a reason for paid time off. Pet bereavement, anyone? WhizBang Training writes, “In your employee training manual, make it clear that schedule requests are just that – requests – not a given.” The bottom line, everyone should be asking how an employee’s absence affects service to your customers. Make sure you include the following in your written policy:

  • How requests should be made (Whether you have a form to fill out or orally)
  • How far in advance they need to be made
  • Who needs to be informed
  • Exact dates and how much time is requested

3.) Negotiating employee time off between each other 

Negotiating employee time off by swapping shiftsAdvanced scheduling is beneficial for everyone. However, allowing your employees to trade shifts with one another has its benefits. Give them greater control and you reinforce your trust in them. This method can only be used when you have a mature and responsible staff. Make it clear that all shift changes must be approved by the store manager first. Plus, both employees must be able to perform the same duties. There are inherent problems with allowing shift trades, but the freedom it allows your staff offers other rewards.

4.) Creating their own schedules

Self-scheduling is another method of handling time off requests. Once again, it requires mature and completely trustworthy employees. To implement this type of scheduling, post available shifts and allow employees to select times. Post your requirements beforehand.

  • Indicate the minimum number of hours a salesperson must work in a given time period
  • Designate how often an employee must work weekend shifts
  • No one can work overtime
  • The manager must give final approval to the schedule

Obviously, only a seasoned staff  who understands your store and how to sell your merchandise can appreciate schedule challenges. To find trustworthy employees, read The ultimate guide to finding the best part-time employees. Successfully train your employees and you’ll have a group of sales professionals ready to take responsibility and work even harder for you.



Serving consignment and resale stores, who are serious about growth. Built so you can access your inventory anywhere, and get your store online. Ask about our free data conversions from other systems.