Q: We hired an employee about a month ago, and at the time of hire they said they could work weekends. Now they say that they can't work weekends. What should we do?
A: It depends. In general, if an employee is unable or unwilling to work the hours they had originally agreed to work, and those hours are required to meet business needs, you can discipline the employee up to and including termination. However, if the employee’s inability to work these hours is related to a protected reason (e.g., medical leave), you’ll want to have a conversation about accommodations instead of discipline.
Whether you opt to discipline or terminate the employee, or work around their schedule, keep in mind that these actions will set a precedent for how you’ll be expected to handle similar situations in the future. Making exceptions for particular employees while disciplining others—when the reasons for the change in hours are not protected—could expose you to discrimination claims.
Terminating an employee always comes with risk, even when it’s done for valid reasons. You can reduce this risk by using progressive discipline. In this two-part blog series, learn how progressive discipline works and tips for using it.