In my current role I was hit with a string of illness that made it inadvisable to come into work for ~4 days, and then my significant other had broken her foot and required assistance for the first day so I was out for an additional 2 days. This was all over the course of 3 months.

After this I was sat down by my manager, and an HR rep. and told that if I intend to keep this position, I will need to make sure I am available.

Now as we near Thanksgiving I requested the day before, and the day after Thanksgiving, the day before as it is more convenient for my family to observe the holiday then due to work restrictions, and the day after because I figure there's not much of a point to me being out of the office for two days that week, only to come back for one day before the weekend, and the extra days off will help me manage my stress more effectively.

The day after I put the request in the system the same manager had come to me privately without HR present and had said something to the effect of "I saw you put in for some time off? Just bear in mind to keep up your availability, wouldn't want this to effect your position."

He seemed to be making what to me seemed to be a thinly veiled threat against my position. Is it at all reasonable to expect him to do this? How should I proceed?

closed as off-topic by Dukeling, gnat, JasonJ, Mister Positive, paparazzo Nov 17 '17 at 15:57

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    Have you been given any sort of definition of what "your availability" means? – Blrfl Nov 17 '17 at 14:28
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    Do you get some number of paid days off per year, and you were only using those? Or are you taking unpaid leave or do you have some other arrangement? It would be weird for them to confront you about taking days off that you're given, but if you're taking unpaid, it's a different story. Were you "on call" during that time, or something similar? But mostly this is something you need to discuss with your manager to figure out their expectations of you - we can't know what they expect of you. You may just need to make it clear that this is unusual for you (if it is). – Dukeling Nov 17 '17 at 14:31
  • You should just sit down with your manager discuss the appropriate time to use PTO(Paid time off). Every company is different due to needs and culture. – Isaiah3015 Nov 17 '17 at 14:33
  • @Dukeling my days off were unpaid as workers here do not accumulate PTO for their first 90 days, but I made myself very available via email, phone, and our office's instant messenger which I installed on my personal phone. The days I requested off for however, would be PTO. – Cody Beaner Nov 17 '17 at 14:55
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    That was not a thinly veiled threat, that was a threat. And you could argue that your manager's statement is creating a hostile work environment. But that is probably a different question altogether. – Peter M Nov 17 '17 at 16:00
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Taking slightly less 10% of the days off (first three months = approximately 65 work days) when you haven't been around long enough to earn any PTO would be considered "absenteeism," in many cases

But, obviously, you had a pretty good reason. However, from their perspective, a person who doesn't have good reason is going to claim the kind of fluke events that happened to you, but that would eventually be exposed by continued absences with more and more claims of special circumstances to the point where credulity is stretched. As a new hire, you don't have the track record yet for them to know if you just had a string of bad luck, or if you are a new "problem child."

It's entirely possible that they are alerting you to the fact that they are unsure and a little concerned, but they don't want to accuse you of being a malingerer, because they don't know that's the case. That could be the cause of the kind of vague (to not accuse), but kind of threatening (to also let you know they won't let you get away with it if you're not on the up and up) manner of communication.

Hopefully, being sidelined for unusually frequent physical illnesses or injuries won't be the norm, and their initial concerns will be allayed by your consistent attendance and productive, industrious work habits.

So, if you follow Mr Positive's excellent advice about communicating instead of trying to read minds and make assumptions, keep in mind that perspective and let them know that you understand that perspective. It might help to lower the tension and potential conflict level of any communications you have.

He seemed to be making what to me seemed to be a thinly veiled threat against my position. Is it at all reasonable to expect him to do this?

No, it is not reasonable for your manager to threaten your job in this situation. However, I am not certain if that was their intention.

How should I proceed?

I would set up a meeting with your manager and ask him what he meant by his comment. Anything else you do is just pure guesswork (and speculation on our part), and asking is the only way you will know the true meaning of the comment.

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    Looking at the recent question comments, it looks like these days were taken almost immediately upon employment, before any PTO was earned, so, to a certain degree, 6 days off unpaid in the first 90 days of employment might reasonably be a management concern. Threats are never a good way to go, though, implied or explicit. – PoloHoleSet Nov 17 '17 at 14:59

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