When Grandma Joan comes to town: how to request work off or trade shifts

We request work off at this hub, right? (Source: behindthethrills.com)
So you've started working at your job (which you are likely in love with - or at least don't mind doing) and are getting into the routine of working all the time.  However, one day your parents call you... and they're coming to visit for a week!  You're super excited but there's only one problem - you have to ask work off and you aren't sure how!

Never fear, friends - today I'll do my best to explain to you how you ask work off, request a schedule swap or trade a shift with a coworker!  Please note that this post will not cover how to call in sick/personal, however (which isn't the same thing as getting work off).  It will also not cover shift giveaways or exchanges for performers, who I believe use an entirely different system.

Can't Wait Until You Get There?

If you have an event that you absolutely must attend and feel you cannot wait until you start work to request shifts off, you are able to email a request to the Recruiting office for up to five days off in a row.  You may be asked to produce documents verifying that you have a legitimate reason for requesting off so early so make sure you have these on hand.  Also, keep in mind that this is just a request - you aren't any more likely to get it approved than if you had waited.

Please note that while you are able to send in requests ahead of time for any reason, Recruiting does this mostly for those who need work off for important events like weddings, graduations or anything or the sort.  If you want work off for something like a family visit, personal vacation or concert wait until you start work and request off using the normal method (the Hub).

Asking Work Off

Once you gain access to the Hub you'll be shown the page where you put in requests to get work off.  It'll be located in the same place as the page you use to swap shifts with or give a shift to a coworker, which I'll talk about in a minute.  Requesting work off is probably the easiest thing to do through the Hub, since it doesn't require any other cast member or advanced knowledge about schedules.  However, keep these points in mind:
  1. You can only request up to ten days off in a row.
  2. You are still responsible for paying your rent each week, which is taken directly out of your paycheck.  If you don't work enough hours to pay rent for a week you'll be sent a notice of how much you owe and a deadline to pay it by.
  3. If you need days off immediately (for a medical/family emergency or a funeral, for example) don't bother with the Hub.  Contact your managers directly and they'll be able to work something out with you.
  4. Your request may take up to a few days to process and you may get waitlisted.  It is your responsibility to keep an eye on the status of your requests, as you won't be emailed when they get approved/rejected.
The form is pretty simple to fill out so I won't go into too much detail.  When it comes to stating a reason for requesting off you'll get a drop-down menu with a lot of options - Regular Day Off and Personal Day Off are your best bets though your stated reason usually doesn't matter much (unless you need work off for something specific, like jury duty).  Regular Day Off means that you want the day you're requesting off to be one of the two days you usually get off per week.  Personal Day Off means that you want an additional day off.

Giving A Shift Away To Another CM

If you can't get work off for a certain day, you might consider giving your shift to another cast member.  These requests will always be approved unless you or the person you're giving the shift to aren't qualified to give/take the shift.  These reasons include:
  1. The shift you are trying to give away is a training shift or one that only you can complete (like one with a meeting with your managers already scheduled).
  2. The CM you are trying to give the shift to doesn't have the appropriate training for the role (for example, you can't give an Attractions CM at Space Mountain a shift for Soarin' because they aren't trained for that attraction).  Sometimes the system gets mixed up with training, however - if this is the case let a manager know and they can override the system to put the request through.
  3. You are giving a shift to someone who already has too many hours for the week, making your shift overtime.  They can only accept an OT shift if you were already getting OT for it, though this may differ between roles.
  4. The CM you are trying to give the shift to works at the same location as you but doesn't have the same proficiencies (for example, as a merch CM you can't give a cashier shift to someone who hasn't been cleared to work the cashier yet).  Again, the system may get messed up and your manager may need to step in.
If you and the CM you're giving the shift to are totally able to make the exchange all you need is the other CM's login ID and the date and time of the shift you're giving away.   Again, you won't be notified if you get the request approved or denied so you will both need to keep a close eye on your schedules.  If the request is approved the shift is no longer your responsibility, though I have heard rumors that you can still get penalized if the CM you give your shift to doesn't show up for work.  In this case, make sure that you can trust whoever you give the shift to.

Trading Shifts With Another CM

Trading shifts with someone is a good deal like giving a shift away (and it uses the same form), but it is a bit more complicated.  You might want to trade a shift if you need a certain part of the day off but still want to work (for example, you might want to trade a night shift for a morning shift so you can go out to dinner with your family in the evening).  You might also want to trade a shorter shift for a longer one, or a shift at a position you don't like for one you do.  However, along with the tips mentioned above also keep these in mind:
  1. The shifts you are trying to trade must BOTH be either non-OT or OT.  You can't give a shift that is OT for you in exchange for a shift that wasn't OT for the CM giving it and vice versa.  This rule may change depending on role.
  2. The shifts in question do not have to be on the same day, but both CMs must be able to work on the day and at the time of the shift they are receiving.
  3. Three-way shift swaps are possible but you may not be able to use the Hub's form.  Contact a manager if not.
Again, keep an eye on your schedules afterwards to make sure that you know if/when the request gets approved.  You are responsible for keeping track of your new schedule.

Finding/Posting About Shifts

So you have a shift you need to get rid of or trade, or you want to pick up more hours for a week - but you don't know how to get the word out.  Luckily, you have several options.  The Hub has its own shift post board that you can search for your role specifically in addition to the EHH (Extra Hours Hotline), which has shifts you can pick up no matter how many hours you already have scheduled.

In addition, depending on your role and location there may be a Facebook group of coworkers as a sort of virtual bulletin boards.  These may be secret, however, so you'll have to find someone willing to let you in in order to use it.  In addition there may be additional rules you have to follow in order to post on the page so keep an eye out for those.

Finally, you can go the old-fashioned route and post papers in your breakroom or base, if there's a place to put it.  Keep in mind that some managers won't let you, however, and will throw your notices away if they see them.  Ask if it's okay before you put anything up.

For the most part that's all you need to know about anything shift-related!  Your particular role may have different procedures but most should be the same for all cast members.  I hope this helps, and if you have any questions you can contact me through the blog or Twitter.


  1. I'll be starting my fall program in August and was asked to be a bridesmaid for a November wedding. I need to email recruiting to ask off as soon as possible, but I'm not sure who I should email about this... Do I send the request to wdw.college.recruiting@disney.com? Also, she hasn't sent out save the dates yet so would an email from the bride be sufficient "documentation"? Thanks for all your helpful posts!

    1. Yes, you email Recruiting! As for whether the bride's email is sufficient documentation I really can't say for sure. If you think you can wait until she sends her save the dates out I'd recommend waiting a bit, otherwise go ahead and email them now. If they say no you can always try to request off again once your program starts or give your shifts away.

  2. Hey! I have a blog for Fall 2015 in the Bell Service Dispatch/Greeter role, if you could put it up here that'd be awesome!