In September my family is going on a weekend trip. They will be leaving on Thursday but I am not able to leave with them then because I started a new job at the end of April.

There is one flight to the location that my family is traveling to on that Friday. The only problem is that I would have to leave work at 2 in order to catch the flight. If I didn’t take a lunch that day I would only be missing out on 3 working hours. I would be back on Sunday and be at work Monday morning.

Before I got this job I had already booked a week long vacation in November (I didn’t have plans to get a new job, this new one just sorta fell into place). I told my boss this in the final stages of the interview in April. She didn’t say no and that’s about that.

The thing is, I have severe anxiety. To the point I’m more scared to ask than to get a no. I come into work daily and don’t have attendance or tardy issues. With my company we don’t receive any vacation or sick time until our 1 year mark. We get one personal day per quarter that we have perfect attendance. And with the way/dates I was hired I will not receive my first personal day until the beginning of October. I don’t want my boss to think I’m a slacker and ask off time a lot.

The one thing that gives me hope is that when I was freshly hired, like 2 weeks in, I mentioned to my boss that during a certain time frame I was going to be watching my sister walk at her graduation from law school on my computer. We share an office and sit right next to each other, that’s why I was giving her a heads up. She straight up asked why I wasn’t going and I explained to her that I had a new job and wasn’t going to ask to take the day off. She basically told me to go to the graduation, it was a special event that I couldn’t get back. So I know she has a soft spot somewhere in there.

I am fully aware that I would have to take those 3 hours unpaid if I left early that Friday. I’m perfectly okay with that. I just want opinions/advice on if I should ask if I can go. I have 6 other siblings and it is very rare to get all of us, our families and our parents together at one time. So this trip means a lot to me.

As an employer, how would you feel if your new employee asked for a time off unpaid?

  • 8
    What country are you from? Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 3:11
  • 3
    "With my company we don’t receive any vacation or sick time until our 1 year mark." That would be completely illegal where I live. Please add your location. What exactly do they expect, that you don't get sick for a full year because they say so? If it only were that easy.
    – nvoigt
    Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 8:12
  • Please also add details about your job schedule. Could you just do an hour overtime on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and basically just leave early friday, or do your work require scheduled shifts where you cannot come and go when you want to?
    – nvoigt
    Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 8:14
  • 1
    Where do you live? In a lot of countries, having worked for a company a few months entitles you to at least a couple of vacation days.
    – Abigail
    Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 11:59
  • I can only speak from a UK / Europe perspective but this should be an absolute non-issue. General etiquette is a weeks notices for a day and a month for a week. The right/expectation for time off elsewhere I know is different. Just to add - the unpaid part would be annoying but only because of the paperwork. Would rather you just took it / made it up by working late another day - opinion as a manager.
    – Techlead
    Commented Jul 14, 2021 at 10:18

4 Answers 4


Jeebus. The dilemmas we invent for ourselves. Are you an indentured servant? Is your boss an ogre who eats people for lunch? If the answer is no, then simply ask for the time off. You won't appear to be a "slacker" or a "bad" employee. You'll appear to be an employee who has a life outside of work who occasionally needs time off of work for outside of work life events.

The worst that will happen is your boss will deny your request and you'll both go back to work as normal.


I want to address the anxiety issue here, I also hate asking for stuff (it came up when I was having therapy for my anxiety). Here's one of the things I do when I'm thinking catastrophically about things, I play "worst, best, most likely", so maybe for you this would be.

Scenario : You ask for a day off work, unpaid to attend your family holiday

Best: Your boss says "sure thing" and all is well

Worst: Your boss gets angry says you aren't showing the right attitude and fires you on the spot (and would you even want to work somewhere like that really?)

Most likely: Your boss makes a face and says its fine, maybe you'll have to make up the time in the month.

In general I find that some part of this exercise allows me to somehow see that my catastrophic thought process is really very unlikely

  • 2
    I think it's important to realise that someone people work under conditions they hate because they have to. Statements like "who would want to work for a person like that" can be demoralising when that boss is the only way to put food on the table. Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 13:52
  • 1
    @GregoryCurrie this is a fair point.
    – R Davies
    Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 14:22
  • @RDavies To provide a personal example. I worked for a company that had a known bullying problem, where management gave up on handling it beyond partitioning people, or actively participated in telling the new hires "your job performance is going to directly reflect if you can make this person your best friend" I worked that job for two years, at not small cost to my personal sense of peace, mostly because my wife needed her cancer medications (and oil was in a slump, so my city had a high, if temporary, technology unemployment rate).
    – Edwin Buck
    Commented Jul 11, 2021 at 5:33

My opinion is that employees that take regular breaks are employees that are able to stay mentally fit and on-top of their game.

One personal day a quarter sounds very low for me, so you're probably from a culture/location that has a very different perspective of things, so I'd take what I say with a grain of salt.

A manager should easily be able to plan for an employee taking half a day off a few months from now.

In addition, you could offer to work a day on the weekend, so the business can get ahead of things before you take half a day off. This may or may not be suitable depending on the nature of your work.


You're overthinking this. Lots of places (in the USA) don't offer paid time off, but that doesn't mean they expect you to never take time off. They just don't want to pay you more than they have to. The fact that your manager already told you to attend a graduation in person supports this. I am completely sure that if you ask for this, the absolutely worst case is they say no because too many other people have already asked for the day off. The sooner you ask, the less likely that scenario is.

If your anxiety really won't allow you to ask directly, then ask about the general policy regarding taking unpaid time off. My guess is you'll be told it's fine if you get approval in advance, so that should help you feel more confident in asking to take that time off.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .