Rota unavailability

In this article

Overview of intended functionality
Recording unavailability in ChurchSuite
Recording unavailability in ChurchSuite when adding Leave
Recording unavailability in My ChurchSuite (Overseers)
Recording unavailability in My ChurchSuite (Members)

Overview of the intended functionality

Rota unavailability is an optional feature that must first be enabled in the Rotas module settings.

Once enabled, the Unavailability section is added to the Rotas module and ministry overseers and serving team members can easily manage their rota unavailability within ChurchSuite and My ChurchSuite. Members and overseers can record single dates, or ranges of dates of unavailability, perhaps for holidays.

Essentially, unavailability will cause a clash notification for ministry overseers when they attempt to add or swap a team member to a rota date when they are unavailable. Clash notifications are also displayed when overseers or members add unavailability for rota dates that someone is already assigned to. 

Unavailability clashes are reportable in a Clashes report in ChurchSuite and are displayed on the rota Clashes page on a rota in My ChurchSuite, and shown visibly against the serving rota member's "Next Serving" list in the My Rotas section of My ChurchSuite. Unavailability is also displayed on a serving team member's contact page in the Address Book and Children module.

Within MyChurchSuite, when a serving team member attempts to record a rota swap with someone who is unavailable, a clash notification will be displayed and the swap cannot proceed. If this clash notification is received either by a ministry overseer in MyChurchSuite or a user in ChurchSuite, it can be overridden and the swap will proceed. 

Unavailability cannot be edited once recorded, but it can be deleted if no longer required, and re-entered if the unavailability dates have changed. Unavailability history is retained in ChurchSuite and can be viewed in the Rotas module by switching between Past and Future on the Unavailability page. Unavailability moves from Future to Past when the final unavailability date in a range has passed. Duplicated or overlapping unavailability is permitted and handled by the system.

Unavailability applies across all ministries - it is not ministry specific. It is therefore not possible to record unavailability for say just one ministry while remaining available for other ministries. A person flagged unavailable will cause an unavailability clash across all rotas where rota dates clash with the unavailability. Where adding unavailability generates a clash, an email notification is sent to the ministry overseer(s). Where adding unavailability doesn't generate a clash, no email notification is sent to the ministry overseer, although they will see clash notifications if they attempt to add an unavailable person to a rota.

For overseers, at the point of creating a rota for a Ministry, serving team members with unavailability will still be automatically assigned to their normal rota dates according to their team/ministry rotation; however a visual indicator is shown on the rota so that overseers can make rota changes accordingly. Without this step, overseers may not otherwise be aware of rota gaps caused by unavailability. Clashes (whether serving date clashes, or unavailability clashes) are shown in red, with unavailability further distinguished by a strikethrough on the serving team member's name (in both ChurchSuite and My ChurchSuite) - see example unavailability clash for Andrew Carter below. In this example, Andrew would not receive a rota reminder, but the other rota members would receive a rota reminder with Andrew included, but his name will show in red strikethrough to indicate that he is unavailable.

The unavailability feature is accessible by Ministry Overseers via the Unavailability menu option in the Rotas module in ChurchSuite...

...or, for serving team members, via the Unavailability section on the My Rotas page in My ChurchSuite.

Ministry overseers can also add unavailability for their serving team members from within a rota they manage in My ChurchSuite.

Rota members will continue to see "next serving' entries for dates of unavailability until an overseer has removed or swapped the unavailable team member; however, this is distinguished visually with red strikethrough, as shown below. Unavailable 'next serving' dates will finally disappear once the team member is removed or replaced on the rota by the overseer (or swapped by the serving team member).


Q: Can we set it so that overseers receive an email notification when unavailability has been added by a team member?

A: Whenever a rota member adds their own unavailability and this gives rise to immediate rota clashes on existing rotas, an email notification is sent to the ministry overseer(s). Overseer notifications are only sent where the unavailability gives rise to an immediate rota clash. Overseer notifications are not sent if the unavailability is added via the admin-facing system; only when added through My ChurchSuite by the rota member. Here's an example overseer notification.

Q: Why do you still add unavailable members to a new rota when it is created?

A: Without doing this the risk is that unavailability gaps would not be evident to overseers, especially in larger churches, or where team roles are important. By adding unavailable members to new rotas and visibly highlighting their unavailability, overseers can clearly see which people they need to swap or remove, and the roles that need to be filled. Some churches may also want unavailable members to still take responsibility for organising rota swaps for dates they can't serve on.

Q: What happens if both the overseer and the team member both add the same unavailability?

A: ChurchSuite will handle duplicate entries. In fact the duplicates and overlapping unavailability dates are simply ignored. It therefore doesn't matter if there is overlap or duplication.

Q: Why does an unavailable serving date still show in my Next Serving list?

A: Unavailability in the "next serving" list will be displaying in red with strikethrough text. It simply means that the ministry overseer has not yet removed or swapped you out from the rota yet. Don't worry though, they will see the same visual unavailability on their rota, prompting them that action is needed - they'll also have received a notification if you added the unavailability after the rota was created. If you're still seeing this on your 'next serving' list after a week or two, maybe drop your overseer a line to confirm they are aware. It's sometimes helpful for other rota members to still see unavailable members on the rota, avoiding confusion if someone hasn't seemingly turned up.

Q: Do unavailable rota members still receive rota reminders if they are left on the rota as unavailable?

A: No, only available rota members will receive rota reminders. Unavailable rota members that remain on the rota will show in red strike-through on that rota and in the reminder emails sent to the other serving team members, indicating that person is unavailable but still on the rota.

Recording unavailability in ChurchSuite

From the Unavailability section within the Rotas module, select Add unavailability.

Search for one or more people to record unavailability for - this can be useful if you wish to record the same unavailability for multiple team members - perhaps a husband and wife, an entire family, or when all your young people or students head off to a weekend away or a conference.

Click Add date and enter an optional Description e.g. Holiday, and then specify the range of Dates. Continue to use Add date to record each range of dates of unavailability.

By unselecting All Day you have the option of entering a time to the start and end dates, which may be useful for accounting for someone who might be unavailable for a morning but could be available for an evening service e.g. a pastor who may be preaching at another church.

Click Save Changes when you are finished. If any unavailability clashes have arisen as a result of those entries, you are immediately notified.

From the Unavailability page you can quickly and easily navigate to each rota (just click the rota name in the Clashes column) where an unavailability clash occurs. You can also see a note of who added the Unavailability and when. You can then decide to resolve the issue by removing or swapping the member from each clash date as appropriate.

When adding people to rotas, unavailable members are still shown in the list (for both Add to date and Add to role, but they show in red strikethrough. If you proceed with adding an unavailable person (which you can if you wish), an unavailability clash notification is displayed.

Recording unavailability in ChurchSuite when adding Leave

Users have the option of automatically adding unavailability when they add Leave in the Calendar module. For Users whose user profile is linked to their underlying contact in the Address Book, and where there is an active Leave Setup for that user, they'll see an option to auto-add their unavailability at the point of making a Leave booking in the Calendar module, saving them the need to make a second entry for their absence in the Rotas module unavailability section.

Notes about the intended functionality of this feature

Note that unavailability is block-booked as "All day" covering the full range of working dates in the leave booking sequence, irrespective of the individual days within the range of the sequence. So if a leave sequence is added for Monday to Friday, but the Wednesday is not marked as leave or is not a working day, unavailability will still be block-booked for the full Monday to Friday. If a leave sequence is added for Monday to Friday, but only Tuesdays and Thursdays are working days, unavailability will be added for Tuesday to Thursday. In these instances, if you wish to be more specific and avoid inaccurate block-bookings of unavailability when adding leave, then the user should manually add their unavailability separately from their leave.

Care should be taken when automatically adding unavailability where multiple leave bookings are being processed in a single leave entry - adding a single leave entry for the 1st April and another date on 30th September would result in an unavailability block-booking for 1st April through to 30th September! In this example, process each leave request individually.

Line managers with appropriate permissions for the Calendar module can add leave (with auto-added unavailability) for other users.

Unavailability can be auto-added for any leave 'type', not just holiday, including custom leave types (created in the Calendar module settings).

Once unavailability has been added when adding leave, subsequent changes to the leave sequence (including deleting the leave sequence) will not affect the original unavailability block booking. The unavailability will need to be edited separately to reflect any changes. When editing a leave sequence there is no option to automatically add unavailability. This option is only shown when a new leave sequence is added.

The "Unavailable" check box will not be visible if: -

  • The user profile is not linked to a contact profile in the Address Book.
  • The Unavailability feature has not been enabled (or is disabled) in the Rotas module settings.
  • The user does not have an active Leave Setup profile in the Calendar module.
  • Your church does not have the Rotas module.

Recording unavailability in My ChurchSuite (Overseers)

Overseers can record the unavailability of their serving team members from within My Rotas. Unavailability added in this way will affect all rotas that a team member serves on. Go into any active rota that you oversee, select the "Unavailability" tab and click the "+Unavailability" button.

Note for overseers

An overseer must have at least one active rota for their ministry in order to navigate to the Unavailability page to add unavailability, since the list of members against whom they can record unavailability for is locked down to those serving team members within their ministry; a list that is only viewable when there is a rota. If you wish to record unavailability for a ministry that doesn't yet have an active rota (published or draft), we suggest you simply create a draft ad hoc rota, record the ministry member unavailability and then delete the rota afterwards. You can then set about creating a new rota when you are ready.

In the pop-up window, select the serving team member name from the drop-down list - note you will only see names of people that are members of your ministry. Enter the date range and optional description.

Unchecking the "All day" box will allow you to enter unavailable times for the start and end dates - perhaps the member has told you they'll be available for a morning service but away for the evening service.

Click "Add Unavailability" when finished. A success message is displayed, or, if any unavailability clashes have been caused on that rota, these are displayed instead.

Click OK to return to the Unavailability list.

From here you might now navigate to the rota Dates page to see your rota. If any unavailability clashes have been advised, these will now be clearly visible on the rota Dates page - whether viewing in name or role view, "Unavailability clashes" are displayed in red strikethrough. Rota date clashes (i.e. caused by serving on more than one rota at the same date/time) are displayed simply in red.

Hovering your mouse (Browser only) over the name indicates the reason for the unavailability.

From the rota Dates page you can now easily identify rota gaps due to clashes and unavailability and simply remove or swap those members out as required.

There are a couple of other useful ways to record unavailability, which will help overseer with the rota workflows in My ChurchSuite.

One method is from the Dates page of a rota, overseers can "Add unavailability" from the date menu in the top-right corner of a date...

Selecting "Add unavailability" displays the "Add" modal. From here you can add an optional unavailability reason e.g. Holiday. By default the unavailability modal is populated with the rota date and serving times. These can be overridden and extended, or accepted as they are.

Clicking "Add Unavailability" on the modal will display the Unavailability clash notification...

And refresh the rota page to show the unavailability visually. The overseer can then choose whether to remove the member, or organise to swap them out for another member.

The other method of adding unavailability on the rota Dates page, is direct from the rota member's position on the rota - click the menu next to a rota member's name and select "Add unavailability".

The Unavailability modal then displays, pre-populated with the member's name, rota date and the serving times of the ministry. Again, these can be overridden, extended or simply accepted as they are.

Clicking "Add Unavailability" will display a clash notification confirming the unavailability clash has been created.

The rota date automatically refreshes to visually show the unavailability. The overseer can then choose whether to remove the member, or organise to swap them out for another member.

Recording unavailability in My ChurchSuite (Members)

The My Rotas page is available to ministry members even if there are no active rotas published for that ministry yet. On the My Rotas page within My ChurchSuite, under the "Next Serving" section is the "Unavailability" section. Listed here is all future unavailability for the logged in ministry member (past unavailability is not visible to serving team members within My ChurchSuite). Serving team members can simply click "+ Unavailability".

In the same way as Overseers can, members can add entries for a range of dates and an optional unavailability description.

Unchecking the "All day" box allows members to specify times, which apply to the start and end date of their unavailability - ideal if a team member is away for a morning service, but available for an evening service.

Serving team members do not receive clash warnings when entering their unavailability. However ministry overseers will see a visual 'unavailability' indicator on published or draft rotas (see previous section for red and strikethrough visual clash indicators on rotas), and will be alerted to unavailability clashes when adding members to a rota. Overseers will also receive an email notification if a rota member adds unavailability in My ChurchSuite, but only if that unavailability gives rise to a rota clash. If the added unavailability doesn't give rise to a rota clash currently or the unavailability is added outside of My ChurchSuite, then no notification is sent to the overseer.

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