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TL;DR

  • cancelled a long-planned trip due to a delay in project deadlines and my backup person quitting, and received most of the cost back from the company.
  • Turns out in retrospect it wasn't necessary as the deadlines then moved again and the original dates would have been fine.
  • Now I would like to know how to address the current situation (if I should) with management/PM, and how to tackle it in the future.

History

I'm a lead developer and occasional architect in my company which develops projects for customers (the particular technology isn't important here). I'm involved in various projects but I'm the lead on, let's say, the Smith project.

About 6 months back (January) my partner and I planned a vacation to 'City X' but involves the cost of hotels, travel, etc which we obviously had to book in advance. We chose the dates based around the Smith project and its deliverables as that's been my main focus for the last year or so and most of my role at this company at the moment is the successful delivery for Smith.

At the time of booking, the Smith project was due to go live in June. As many readers will know... projects almost never go according to schedule so we didn't book the trip for "the week after the Smith delivery" -- I booked it for August, so around 2 months after that project was meant to be complete.

Although I'm the "Lead" developer, we do have other developers on this project, some of which are junior or mid-level and one other 'Beth' who is "Senior" developer and she is my de-facto backup. (The company would prefer that I'm around to oversee the Smith delivery but if I was out sick or something, Beth would be able to do it in my absence.) Beth and I both have multiple years of experience with this company and its code base which can be a bit... idiosyncratic ;-)

The context now

About 3 months ago (March) Beth has given notice to quit the company as she's moving on to a better opportunity elsewhere (to be a Lead, I think, so it's a good step up for her). I'm happy for her as her work was always excellent and she deserves to do well. She left a couple of months ago and the company is now recruiting for a replacement for Beth but shuffling their feet over whether to "promote from inside" or find someone via a recruiter, do they want to reconfigure the positions, etc etc.

Meanwhile the deadline for the Smith project has slipped, and go-live is now expected to be around the time I'd booked for the vacation. This wasn't directly due to Beth's departure -- there are more pressing reasons that I won't go into too much detail about but mostly are due to 3rd parties, incompatibilities with versions of vendor software that we are dependent on, etc etc. Smith are ok with this (as far as it goes) -- new deadline expected to be mid August. (2 months delay)

If Beth had been still at the company this wouldn't be an issue with the vacation as she would be a competent backup and I would have been able to hand over the knowledge to her.

However, since she left although we have other developers we don't have a senior-level 'Beth' type other than me, so reluctantly the company asked if I'd be able to cancel/postpone the trip (with any costs made up for). After discussion with partner I agreed as we don't have a particular reason to take the trip at that time (family weddings or whatever). A couple of bonus days off were given as well as vaguely making us whole financially (we could get some, but not all of the money back for the cancelled trip).

(Edited to add: the company refunded travel, hotels, etc. But there were a few other small costs I didn't ask for like additional fees we paid to the hotel for late checkout, advance tickets to tourist attractions, etc.)

But...

I've now found out, this week, after cancelling the trip - that the deadline for Smith has now been moved again (mostly due to factors on Smith's side, rather than ours) and will now be several months later most likely... but with no specific time frame at this point. And that it would have been fine for me to take that trip as we'll now be mostly working on other company priorities during that time, which I'm not particularly needed for (other developers could do my part of that).

I'm angry and disappointed! I was ok (within reason) with cancelling the trip for the 'bigger business purpose' and not to leave them in the lurch now that Beth has left.

Now I feel betrayed, uncertain, and a bunch of other things. I feel like I can't re-book the trip in case the same thing happens again, that I have disappointed my partner (who thought we should push back against my company not cancel the trip, which resulted in quite an argument which I 'won' in the end, but it was a pyrrhic victory!)

I did express some of this to the PM who came back with something like "yeah, that sucks but when we asked you to cancel it we didn't know Smith were going to delay it like that" PM cheekily suggested booking fully refundable reservations next time! (which, as you all will know, cost significantly more. [I wonder if there's a line item in the project budget for that cost difference..!])

I would like to know... (how would the workplace.SE collective suggest I proceed from here?)

  • Should I do anything further (if so how) in terms of bringing this up to management, project manager, etc?
  • How can I approach booking any future time off given that this could happen again? At the moment I feel totally reluctant to book anything ever again.
  • Did I do the right thing (I realise this one is more subjective) in agreeing to cancel the trip?

NB - I haven't (yet?) told partner that the Smith delivery has been delayed so it would have been fine to take that trip (in retrospect). Partner works in a completely non-IT field dealing with "day to day" workload (e.g. a call center) so doesn't really know about how IT projects tend to go and such like. I'm not sure what the response will be, although I know how I'd respond in his position!

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    what do you want to achieve? – aaaaaa Jun 27 at 20:06
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    @aaaaaa I'm not sure exactly, so I'm conscious that "what I'm asking" is somewhat open ended. From an emotional point of view I want management/PM to validate that I've been through this anger and disappointment unnecessarily, and to acknowledge how I'm uncertain about making any other arrangements at this company. I'm not normally an "emotional" person but I'm afraid anger has overcome me a bit at this point. I need to know if the relationship with this company can be repaired or if I should look to move on, actually. I was happy there before this, and had been for several years. – GeekingTom Jun 27 at 20:27
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    What exactly does "vaguely making us whole financially (we could get some, but not all of the money back for the cancelled trip)" mean? Did you lose money or not? My initial interpretation was that you got some money refunded when cancelling, and the company made up the difference (i.e. everything you couldn't get refunded), but there's at least one answer with a different interpretation (which could just as easily be correct). – Anthony Grist Jun 28 at 9:03
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    I'd imagine the company is pretty po'd too. They paid for your trip when they didn't need to. So you both lost. – Dan Jul 1 at 15:52
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    You should put your health and well being above work in my opinion. If work agreed the time off, that's it. If something came up, its for them to re-organise and not you. If you were to do anything in future it would be "sorry I cannot reschedule" and leave it at that. Maybe I am fortunate, but I've never cancelled a holiday due to work, only due to illness. If my work offered to pay for my holiday and give extra days I would still say no most likely; people need time off and management should be good enough to schedule accordingly or to push back on customers if they need to. – adamcooney Jul 1 at 16:03

13 Answers 13

155

Should I do anything further (if so how) in terms of bringing this up to management, project manager, etc?

They've already paid you in terms of your "expenses" and given you extra time off, so I'd think there's no point other than to vent anger (which is a bad idea).

How can I approach booking any future time off given that this could happen again? At the moment I feel totally reluctant to book anything ever again.

What you should be reluctant to do is cancel your bookings, especially plans which have been in the pipeline for a long time.

Consider it a life lesson and don't change your plans next time.

Vacation is important and there are lots of other people involved. In the future let them know months ahead (which you did) then tell them you can't change your plans. Don't supply details, don't mention that you don't think their deadline is firm, don't mention what happened the last time, just say you can't change your plans.

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    @GeekingTom They are changeable only if you let them be. You may not have children but you also need to think of your partner who had to go through the trouble of requesting/having approved their time off to spend a vacation with you and now has to cancel as well. – sf02 Jun 27 at 20:46
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    @GeekingTom your plans are changeable, but it does not mean you have to be willing to change them. – svavil Jun 27 at 22:44
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    Once I read something along the lines of " A lack of planning on your part doesn't constitute an emergency on my part". Of course you shouldn't say it aloud to your company in any circumstance but keep it in mind always. You planned ahead with a buffer of two months left for initial release and notified them about your vacation. They didn't find a replacement for Beth on time. And it resulted in you cancelling a vacation and them being arrogant about "fully refundable" bookings. "just say you can't change your plans" is the right thing to do next time I think. – Ege Bayrak Jun 28 at 6:33
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    @GeekingTom They knew in advance that you had a vacation planned, when they rescheduled the deadline, they should have taken that into account, especially if you're a major asset for the project. If they did not bother to do so, then they're not giving enough value to you, and your time. – user3399 Jun 28 at 7:45
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    @GeekingTom > Your experience, and this one is no exception, should tell you that their plans are certainly as much changeable as yours. They probably had less troubles pushing back the delivery of the project than you had cancelling your plans, was it financially or sentimentally. Moreover, there are only a very limited number of cases where your dedication and your sacrifice will be remembered or rewarded. – Laurent S. Jun 28 at 9:45
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Now I would like to know how to address the current situation (if I should) with management/PM, and how to tackle it in the future.

There is not much to address the current situation. You yourself knew that it wasn't likely that the project would have been completed on the original date. You even booked your trip a few months after the original date because of this. The fact that the project end date changed again after you cancelled your trip should not have been a surprise to you.

Yes, your backup left the company but that simply means that management has to identify someone else to temporarily act as your backup. I personally would not have cancelled the trip and in the future I don't think you should do so either. You are entitled to your vacations and it is not your problem if management does not facilitate proper cross-training.

  • Actually when I booked the trip I was expecting the project to be completed on the original date, give or take "a couple of weeks" so that 2 months after would be where "this project is well in the past and now we're working on new stuff". At the time it was being discussed, it was "Smith must go-live on X date because of ABC market conditions that mean they need to launch the new site then" but I allowed 'a couple of weeks' of contingency. – GeekingTom Jun 27 at 20:34
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    @GeekingTom, I think sf02 understood all of that. His point is that you should still have gone to vacation on the original date. – Stephan Branczyk Jun 27 at 22:07
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    I agree with this. The point being that on really long projects (year to multi-year), it shouldn't be expected that no one can take vacation. The problem here is that management didn't properly have a backup. The fact that Beth left was beyond everyone's control but OP shouldn't have to suffer because of it. The company needs to get a backup, get them trained, etc. and ready to take over. – JeffC Jun 28 at 15:03
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While you're reluctant to reschedule at this time that is exactly what you should do. Talk to your boss and your partner and then schedule the trip so that it is only a few weeks or a month later than originally planned.

You will be clearing it ahead of time with management, it will be before the estimated time for the Smith delivery, and it will still be using the vacation time that you have earned.

Your boss will know that if suddenly they need it sooner, you won't be available during the pre-approved time. And you'll get a good break and will be better able to work upon your return from a well deserved break.

From a comment:

You should have negotiated about how and when to reschedule the vacation at the same time of the original negotiation about cancelling it, including how to cover the cost of rescheduling. Being made whole isn't just about money; even if you were happy to change your plan, you (and your partner) still need the vacation. It can't be scheduled for "never".

What is past can't be changed, so knowing what you should have done doesn't completely help. But the point that it can't be scheduled for "never" is very true - so what you should do now is schedule the vacation. Something might happen at work at anytime, and all you can do is try to mitigate the effect. And then take your vacation.

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    It's a shame this answer is getting down voted because it's the most sustainable answer of the bunch. I did the "I'm going anyway, tickets already paid for!" thing ONCE in my career. It took several years to live that down. And I did the flip side, and my relationships suffered. This is the only answer which balances the realities of both work and life. – Julie in Austin Jun 28 at 0:01
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    @JulieinAustin Interesting. I don't think anyone has ever asked me to cancel/delay a holiday in nearly 40 years. Europe/USA difference perhaps? – Martin Bonner Jun 28 at 10:50
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    @JulieinAustin If you have management that holds their mistake over your head for years... that's a flag to find new management. Needing an employee to cancel their life for work due to a moving deadline is project management making a mistake (by not accounting for that vacation), and then blaming that employee for anything out of that mistake is flagrant disrespect. – Delioth Jun 28 at 15:04
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    I don't see how this answer answers the actual questions very clearly. It should be rephrased a bit at the very least. Especially the first paragraph, the trip cancellation has already happened so I am not sure what "reluctant to reschedule at this time" means in this context. – hyde Jun 29 at 6:34
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    You should have negotiated about how and when to reschedule the vacation at the same time of the original negotiation about cancelling it, including how to cover the cost of rescheduling. Being made whole isn't just about money; even if you were happy to change your plan, you (and your partner) still need the vacation. It can't be scheduled for "never". – krubo Jul 1 at 3:40
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Should I do anything further (if so how) in terms of bringing this up to management, project manager, etc?

Why would you? From due date of your birth to how many weeks the doctor tells you that you have left at the end of life NO date is a guarantee until after it occurs. Yes, some are far more likely than others but projects are subject to change. The only conversation for management is if there was some unreasonable negligence. Don’t undo the goodwill you gained with your company simply to vent.

How can I approach booking any future time off given that this could happen again? At the moment I feel totally reluctant to book anything ever again.

You book it. If you’re worried, talk with your manager before booking, then book it. If something changes, you decide whether you’re willing or not to upheave your personal life and contacts for the good of the company. There will always be projects. You can’t put your life on hold until retirement just in case one of them changes.

Did I do the right thing (I realise this one is more subjective) in agreeing to cancel the trip?

It sounds like you did the right thing for your company and the wrong thing for your relationship.

I don't take from this that you have ownership (monetary, actual ownership, not just taking pride). Keep that in mind next time this comes up. If a less than full refund and a few extra days off was not worth the personal loss. Next time, you may want to either bargain for more, like a big bonus—which can get dicey—or politely decline. Even if you have no one in your life, you still have a life. It is not your responsibility to make up for every unforeseen event the universe throws at your employer.

  • I don't have "ownership" in the company. I'm just a standard employee. – GeekingTom Jun 30 at 20:09
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A couple of bonus days off were given as well as vaguely making us whole financially (we could get some, but not all of the money back for the cancelled trip).

If they wanted to cancel a pre-arranged holiday, they should have paid you the whole amount (days off are not the same). If you had the money, you could now re-book it and you'd be fine barring the bridges burnt with your spouse.

Consider it a learning item - next time look for total compensation.

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    I read "vaguely making us whole financially (we could get some, but not all of the money back for the cancelled trip)" as the company covered any money they didn't get refunded when cancelling, and also gave a few extra days of bonus vacation, but perhaps I'm misinterpreting that. May be worth getting that clarified. – Anthony Grist Jun 28 at 9:02
  • They did pay the whole amount (well, the bit that the OP didn't get refunded). Note the "as well" in the bit you have quoted. – Martin Bonner Jun 28 at 10:52
  • Edited the Q. I could get some (small amount) back, they paid the rest of the cancellation of flights and hotel but I was still out of pocket for a (relatively) small amount. – GeekingTom Jun 30 at 20:19
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Your mistake was to be too accommodating. Your vacation time is legally yours and unless your employer is willing to refund you in full for your vacation fees, as well as pay you extra for the hassle, there is no good reason for you to allow them to disrupt your plans.

At the end of the day it is their responsibility to manage deadlines and the potential missing thereof, not yours. If they haven't factored in the potential of people movements and vacations, again: their problem not yours. After all, if the project can slip due to other vendors, why can't it slip due to people?

Finally, you've set a problematic precedent by being so willing to bend over backwards for your employer. You can bet that next time such a crunch situation comes up, they will expect you to put them first again, and will be upset when you refuse.

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Your company has handled the matter in an acceptable although not spectacular manner. It was reasonable to ask you to postpone as long as they made up any financial loss and they apparently did.

From a strategic view, what you need to learn from this is that it is better to book a vacation before a project deadline instead of after. The other thing you should learn from this is that it’s important to have a backup. You should be pushing for a replacement for Beth.

On a more general note, it sounds like you are letting this bug you more than it should. It’s understandably annoying, but it’s not a major institutional process problem or personal insult or anything like that. Let it go.

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    It was reasonable to ask you to postpone I disagree, They did not plan properly for contingencies. This is a common (senior) management error (and conceit). It's extremely unreasonable to mis-manage things to the point you end up asking people to postpone long planned vacations. They failed to recruit even a temporary backup in a timely manner even though they should have seen the potential for this exact problem. What would they have done if the OP had e.g. had an accident - they'd have had to find an alternative solution, as they should have in the first place. – StephenG Jun 30 at 12:26
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    @StephenG: as things turned out, everything would have been OK. They seemed to have just asked, not threatened to fire him or put undue pressure on him. They asked, it wasn’t that important to him and he said OK. Not the best way to handle it, but hardly terrible. – jmoreno Jun 30 at 15:06
  • @jmoreno "better to book a vacation before a deadline than after" -- typically in the last stages leading up to the deadline, it would be 'all hands on deck' finalizing details of the deployment, last-minute changes, etc. Not really a 'sedate' time in the software lifecycle let's say! – GeekingTom Jun 30 at 20:17
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As others pointed out already, it makes no sense to push this further with management, since you have no uncovered expenses except the emotional regarding your partners disappointment. One could say you even gained the extra days off. So thats a good thing.

I understand your anger, but following your description this is a unique situation that arises mostly from the unlucky timing that your standin left at. That means: Don't be frustrated, unplanned problems like that occur from time to time but hopefully not regularly. If you want to do anything, support management in finding a new "number two" that supports you and pay attention that they understand the importance of recruiting someone new. Having a replacement is the best insurance for those situations.

Your partner should understand that you also wished for a different outcome but I would understand if your partner is still disappointed.

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One way to avoid situations like that (or at least greatly reduce their probability and adverse effects) is as follows:

  • always get your vacation approved officially.

  • don't follow the HR advice about booking fully refundable vacation, unless you want to be used as the plug to every hole. If anything, booking a non-refundable trip will make you less likely to be affected by planning changes.

  • if the management asks you to reschedule your vacation, tell them you have already booked a non-refundable trip. Only consider changing your own plans if the company agrees to cover your losses in full. Even then, understand that you don't have to cancel, you can still say "no" or use the situation to bargain something useful. To give you an idea, one of my acquittances got almost another month of salary when they were needed for one week between Christmas and the New Year.

  • don't cancel your trip until the very last moment (in case of a non-refundable trip that means "never"). If your company's plans change again, you may be able to go to your originally planned vacation.

As for the life-work balance, there's no "right" or "wrong" thing to do. What you did was right from a professional standpoint, but repeating that a few times can completely ruin your personal life. Now you have to see how much your company appreciates your sacrifice: for instance, how difficult it will be for you to get your next vacation approved on the dates that suit you, but not so much the company.

And don't forget to make it up to your partner for cancelling the trip you both have planned.

2

tl;dr: Never protect people from the consequences of their incompetence (or dishonesty) - no matter what their power relationship to you, or whatever their implied threats. Your well-meaning gestures will only make things worse, burn you out, lower your productivity, and cause them to further lose respect for you, exacerbate their dysfunction, and condition them to try it again. If they need to break stuff to learn hard lessons, then so be it, do not save them. "Don't Just Do Something, Stand There."

"I cancelled a long-planned trip due to a delay in project deadlines and my backup person quitting".

Never do that again. (We all did that once). Back when your coworker gave three months' notice to quit, they already had a crisis in staffing (probably much longer, if they knew it was coming), that's their crisis not yours. They also have an ongoing crisis in planning, and hiring, and those are their crises - not yours. Fundamentally they have crises in project planning, managing, staffing, hiring, communicating to customers and treating their employees properly. It would be easier to list things at which they're competent - if any.

If you sacrifice yourself to compensate for their (many) inadequacies and save their bacon, they will neither appreciate nor respect you, and you will burn out. If you had not 'solved' their staffing problem three months ago, they'd have had to either go back to Smith and tell them there'd be a delay, or expedite hiring. Either would have solved the problem (at least the short-term problem).

as well as vaguely making us whole financially (we could get some, but not all of the money back for the cancelled trip)

Sorry, that's pure BS. Stand up for yourself, already! Invoice the company, in writing, for the owed amount. (It helps if they have a policy that supports you, or at least don't have a policy that doesn't help you; or if they have a record of having compensated previous employees for vacation cancellations. Include any written manager authorization that they had authorized your vacation. If you don't have any, make sure to send much memos in future confirming that your vacation was authorized.)

Anecdote to prove the point:

The following true but mind-blowing story occurred to my acquaintance F some years ago (albeit during a boom, and his skillset was in hot demand):

  • F had joined a company earlier that year and worked his ass off and delivered his components on a new product, done a great job and everyone was totally happy with him, and he was expecting a big bonus. It was November and coming up to his well-earned Christmas vacation which he was going to spend in his home country, with his mother; this being her first Christmas alone since his father/her husband had died suddenly the previous Christmas.
  • suddenly end of November, some urgent product problem arose (not caused by him). So mgmt asked him to cancel/delay his Christmas vacation, or shorten it, or even fly his mother up instead so he could work through Christmas week (even though she didn't speak English, and didn't want to come, least of all on the anniversary of her husband's death).
  • F said no. He absolutely needed to go, and would be gone for 3 weeks to see his mother.
  • they threw offers of money at him, stock, early promotion, other perks and promises, you name it.
  • F still politely said no, he had to take that vacation. End of discussion.
  • at this point F expected them to fire him. But he was damn sure he was taking the vacation he'd earned, and that (what was left of) his family needed, and if needs be he'd just come back and find a new job in January (this was during a boom, and his skillset was in hot demand).
  • now the insane part: mgmt, said alright, go ahead, take the vacation. (Not sure how they handled their product crisis, but whatever, they muddled through, the sky did not fall). He still thought they might fire him or reduce his bonus when he got back after Christmas.
  • But here's the effect: they respected him more after that. They treated him better, showered him with goodies, and never made insane requests again. He stayed at that company for several years, made $$$ when it got acquired, and even bought a yacht.
  • Moral: most of us won't have the leverage F had, and won't get the fairytale outcome. But the point stands. Identify the line where you won't compromise (strained relationships, family commitments, messed-up plans, unhappiness etc.) Then politely stand firm.
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•Should I do anything further (if so how) in terms of bringing this up to management, project manager, etc?

Yes, when you re-book your holiday, explicitly mention that the project is currently missing a vital role after Beth left and that during this time there will be no back-up for you until this role is filled. State something like "I hope this role will be filled with enough time to bring said person up to speed before my vacation"

•How can I approach booking any future time off given that this could happen again? At the moment I feel totally reluctant to book anything ever again.

Book this holiday again and with far enough advance time to get someone new up and ready to cover. Say 1 month for searching, 1 month to cover new persons notice, 1 month to get them up to speed/settled in.

•Did I do the right thing (I realise this one is more subjective) in agreeing to cancel the trip?

It is highly subjective on how much you value the company and the project vs. your personal life. Having a drive for the company to succeed is great as long as it is balanced. Doing the right thing can be seen 2 ways:

From a Job perspective: Yes. You are the Lead developer on a project about to go live. There could have been fallout from missing the deadline had the issue been caused by you not being there, that could have on-going (regardless if justified) ramifications on your standing in the company. "We failed because X went wrong and Y was on holiday"

From a Person perspective: No. The reason that this has happened is upper managements inability to find a replacement/cover for you. Not your problem, yet you and your partner are the ones suffering. It not would have been out of place to send off an e-mail stating that they were aware of your holiday for a while and have not found a replacement for a crucial role. You cannot change you plans and as such they will need to accelerate finding someone to promote from within.

1

I think there are a few things you should do to take the situation forwards.


Now I feel betrayed...that I have disappointed my partner (who thought we should push back against my company not cancel the trip, which resulted in quite an argument which I 'won' in the end, but it was a pyrrhic victory!)

I would advise you to wholeheartedly apologise to your partner and make a promise to listen to her judgement in future. She seems to be quite clued up about what's important!


At the time of booking, the Smith project was due to go live in June. As many readers will know... projects almost never go according to schedule so we didn't book the trip for "the week after the Smith delivery" -- I booked it for August, so around 2 months after that project was meant to be complete.

With this line you've demonstrated that you didn't have a complete overview of the client needs and sensitivities. You thought a project was mission critical whereas it could be extended on a whim. As a British Civil Servant who has worked on Brexit issues, not even we were encouraged to cancel holidays, so I don't see why your project should be more important than that.

Going forwards, you need to be better clued in on what the business' priorities actually are and what deadlines are actual deadlines and fall on a critical path. Also, both you and your project manager need to factor in holidays. They are there for a reason.


I did express some of this to the PM who came back with something like "yeah, that sucks but when we asked you to cancel it we didn't know Smith were going to delay it like that" PM cheekily suggested booking fully refundable reservations next time! (which, as you all will know, cost significantly more.

So after all this sacrifice you've been told that the PM didn't appreciate. You've lost reputationally and the only way to fix this is to be more clued up about the business' priorities and assertive about your own needs.


A couple of bonus days off were given as well as vaguely making us whole financially (we could get some, but not all of the money back for the cancelled trip).

I think the company has done more than it's statutory duty to compensate you, and there's nothing much you can do to get more out of them. With all due respect, you made a rookie error and your partner seems more clued up. You need to learn how business priorities work and how they interact with your priorities.

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    "As a British Civil Servant who has worked on Brexit issues, not even we were encouraged to cancel holidays" – so that is why Brexit still didn't happen? (SCNR.) – Paŭlo Ebermann Jun 28 at 23:45
  • "I would advise you to wholeheartedly apologise to your partner and make a promise to listen to her judgement in future. She seems to be quite clued up about what's important!" She was saying this on the basis of something like 'once they've approved it they have to let you take it, why are you letting them stomp all over you like this when we have our holiday booked??' rather than really understanding the situation. She works in a company/industry with different norms, where they just need a certain number of people to cover each shift, and the people are "interchangeable" to some extent. – GeekingTom Jun 30 at 20:30
  • We actually have had conflicts over this kind of thing before when I've had to log in remotely on Saturday (etc) to support a software release (not related to 'Smith' particularly, just in general with customers) -- "but your contract says you work M-F 9-5!! They can't ask you to work that!" etc. – GeekingTom Jun 30 at 20:33
  • Then you have communication boundary-setting problems all around. Saturday is completely different from vacation because (unless you forgot to mention it) your partner has no claim on how you choose to spend your Saturday. Whereas your partner had a reasonable expectation that you would keep your joint vacation plans since you made the plans together. Based on what you've disclosed, you should apologize about vacation, but make your own decisions about Saturday. – krubo Jul 1 at 3:29
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You did not mention the country. In France (and in all the EU countries I discussed about) the law is that once your vacation are approved, any change which involves costs must be covered by the company in full.

I leave aside the rest of your questions since they have been amply covered in the other answers.

protected by Mister Positive Jun 28 at 16:18

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