What’s a fair and effective employee schedule policy to follow? How do you keep schedule change requests from driving you insane?

I own a retail store. I used to have someone working for me that handled the employee scheduling but now I have to do it. What's more is i've never actually worked for another retail store so I don't really know what a standard retail schedule policy looks like. I'm even having trouble finding a good cookie cutter policy.

I tend to be way too easy going so employees do tend to take advantage of this at times. On the other hand it's all hourly pay so even if they have to go pick up their kid from school for the third time in a week, we aren't left crippled. Usually.

It's my most hated of tasks within the business. I've heard having a clear as day scheduling policy and visible scheduling calendar can really help. What are some examples of a good policy to you all?

I realize there isn't a one size fits all answer but, as I mentioned, i'm really not good at it so any input would be helpful.

How many times do i let them be late in a month? How many times can they be sick before its a problem? How soon should they have to tell me before they request a change to the schedule? How many unplanned emergency scheduling changes should i allow? It's like every other day someone suddenly has to leave because they have a headache or they call me the night before because they have to go to a parent teacher meeting. What do i do?

They all seem to have pretty legitimate reasons and they aren't getting paid tons here so I try to be lenient.

I think the trouble is that it doesn't cause the store to break down if someone doesn't show up, but we are firing on one less cylinder and it just gets annoying.

Hope you guys can help me simplify and alleviate this pain in my ass.

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