When they say flexible schedule..THEY MEAN IT!

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Comments (7)

John in Chicago, Illinois

50 months ago

You're right about needing to be flexible as a new hire generally speaking. As someone with low seniority, you will be expected to work the less favorable shifts and will be first in line for mandatory overtime. That's just how it goes, and to be honest how could anyone reasonably expect it to be any other way? It's a right of passage as a new hire, and it's temporary.

On the flip side, as you gain seniority that schedule flexibility works in YOUR favor. After you accumulate a couple of years of service and some new hires have been hired after you, then you're in good shape. You bid on your schedule every couple of months and can choose to move between AM and PM shifts, a variety of start times, different off days, and positions. Not to mention there is limitless trading, picking up, and giving away of shifts. You also get a "freeday" every month, which is basically just a paid day off of your choosing. For the most part you can get any day off you want as long as it's not some sort of a Holiday or something the senior people will be after. Any arbitrary day of the month is pretty easily had. Also, you get 2 weeks vacation to start, 3 weeks after 5 years of service, 4 weeks after 10 years, and 5 weeks after 18 years. Between that, freedays, shift trading, and bidded schedules,.. If you can't manage your life and work schedule, I don't know what would be required for you to be able to.

I've always thought that one of the major perks of this job WAS the schedule flexibility. In the time I've been working at Southwest (even in the early years), I've never not been able to be off on a certain day that I needed to be, even on short notice. If it came down to it, I could get someone to pick up a shift for me for a cash incentive or buddy pass. Or agree to a trade and pick up a shift for them in return. This, of course is after I've struck out on being able to take a freeday or vacation day which is a rare occurrence.

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tpin94 in Lockport, Illinois

5 months ago

how does vacation time work with southwest????? (for a new hire)

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John312 in Chicago, Illinois

4 months ago

Vacation works as follows. In your first year, the amount of vacation days you receive for the following calendar year depends on which month you were hired in. Let's just say you were hired on June 19th. You'll get one day per full month for each remaining month that calendar year. For example, July, August, September, October, November, December. So as of the first of the year (following year) you'll have 6 DAT (day at a time) days of vacation.. You'll have no vacation bank while working the initial hire year. Now, the next year in which you've worked the entire 12 months, you'll receive 10 vacation days, and from that day forward. Until the 5th year when you get 15 days, then 20 after 10, and 25 after 18.

Also, you have to remember that "vacation time" is not the only means to have paid off days. In addition to vacation, everyone is also given a "freeday" within each month with the exception of November and December because Thanksgiving and Christmas are the default "freedays" in those months (everyone is scheduled off, and only people who sign up for OT work).

Now as far as how these days are issued, it works as follows,.. Both types of paid off-days are issued by way of a "bid". The month proceeding, they will release these bids whereby you write your off day preferences in order. They filter through it and award the choices by the agents' seniority. For freedays, everyone participates in this because you just automatically get assigned an arbitrary day if you dont. For DAT days, only a low percentage of people might participate, for a couple of reasons. Firstly because not everyone is necessarily looking to use one of their vacation days (dat days) in this particular month. Secondly, it's not required to do in order to still be awarded a DAT day for that month. Sometimes you don't know a whole month in advance what day off you might need. The bid only serves the purpose of giving early dibs on days. ::Continued:

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John312 in Chicago, Illinois

4 months ago

Following the close of the bid, someone can turn in a Dat Request as little as 24 hours in advance and be awarded the day off. There are a set amount of "slots" per day to be allocated for people to use their vacation days. It varies by the size of the station but at MDW it's 7. 7 different people are able to have the same day off on a DAT day. So essentially if a slot remains open and you request it off, you have it. There's no management discretion. It's a contractual requirement that you be awarded the day. So, again, the bid mainly serves the purpose of getting a jump on the first slots. Which works out well if you've got a major plan that you know about in advance. Usually if you put in for it through the bid, you'll get it.

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Jay in Chicago, Illinois

2 months ago

I have my fingers crossed after my interview this week. They told me they'd do a background check next, which I'm not worried about.
But the question I have is this: Assuming I'm hired in the next month, we have an ordination to go to in NY in late May. How will I be able to get a few days off to go?

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Sam Lewis in Chicago, Illinois

2 months ago

Jay in Chicago, Illinois said: will I be able to get a few days off to go?

You're only real option is after you've been hired and are a regular "on-line" employee, you'll need to shift trade or give away with co-workers. In situations where I've needed days off in the past and was out of vacation, I'll offer my days as "give aways" and put cash on top of it. It's within the rules to pay people to pick-up your shifts. Hopefully some of those days you need off will at least partially coincide with your regular off days.

Be aware too that mandatory overtime is a common thing with low seniority agents. Very frequently you'll be told you need to work your first day off. You'll be notified of it the day prior following the closing of the overtime book at noon. To avoid getting mandatoried on your first day off, you'll want to be sure to be off the day before your weekend and therefore are unable to be notified. Don't answer any company phone number calls on that day! You'll see when you get here, but union rules are a major part of the job. You'll quickly learn that everything is very black and white and certain processes have to be followed with everything. You can only be issued mandatory overtime if you're present at work or are able to be reached by phone. So simply put, the trick is to not allow yourself to be available to be reached. If you're not notified it simply get's put down as an "unable to reach" and it moves to the next person in line. There are no adverse consequences. It's nothing personal and frankly the administrative supervisors don't care one way or the other, they just have to follow process. In my department our main admin supervisor is really cool. Once or twice I've slipped and answered that phone call, and he said something along the lines of "you've been issued mandatory overtime tomorrow, that is unless this phone call connection suddenly goes bad and you can't hear me." I then replied "::noise with my mouth:: what? click

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Jay in Chicago, Illinois

2 months ago

Sam Lewis in Chicago, Illinois said: You're only real option is after you've been hired and are a regular "on-line" employee, you'll need to shift trade or give away with co-workers. In situations where I've needed days off in the past and was out of vacation, I'll offer my days as "give aways" and put cash on top of it. It's within the rules to pay people to pick-up your shifts. Hopefully some of those days you need off will at least partially coincide with your regular off days.

Be aware too that mandatory overtime is a common thing with low seniority agents. Very frequently you'll be told you need to work your first day off. You'll be notified of it the day prior following the closing of the overtime book at noon. To avoid getting mandatoried on your first day off, you'll want to be sure to be off the day before your weekend and therefore are unable to be notified. Don't answer any company phone number calls on that day! You'll see when you get here, but union rules are a major part of the job. You'll quickly learn that everything is very black and white and certain processes have to be followed with everything. You can only be issued mandatory overtime if you're present at work or are able to be reached by phone. So simply put, the trick is to not allow yourself to be available to be reached. If you're not notified it simply get's put down as an "unable to reach" and it moves to the next person in line. There are no adverse consequences. It's nothing personal and frankly the administrative supervisors don't care one way or the other, they just have to follow process. In my department our main admin supervisor is really cool. Once or twice I've slipped and answered that phone call, and he said something along the lines of "you've been issued mandatory overtime tomorrow, that is unless this phone call connection suddenly goes bad and you can't hear me." I then replied "::noise with my mouth:: what? click

Sam, thanks. That's very helpful.

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