Vacation Need/Want

I usually have just enough vacation days to keep me happy, but the problem is a 6-work-day trip I am taking with my University, which seriously cuts into my PTO package. I have 10 PTO days, 6 of which will be going towards a trip, leaving just 4 days for everything else, which is not enough.

However, even though the trip is not directly related to company business, the owner told me he wanted to support it, and had donated some money to the University for the trip's cause.

Boss / HR

My boss and I talked about my situation, and agreed that an extra week of PTO will work well for my needs. Boss went to HR with the following:

  • that will be the typical PTO package in my industry (software)
  • I am going on a long trip, which is supported by the company (company-backing)
  • I have property in Florida I visit often (personal)

Boss & me also had the following questions:

  • can my annual raise be converted to PTO?
  • can I take my trip as unpaid time off?
  • can I work from home somehow?

Through negotiating with HR, HR explained that they have a mindset, which is "all employees are to be treated fairly and the equally, and no employee should get extra privileges over another". And for that reason, they cannot allow extra time to be negotiated for my case, and they frown on work from home arrangements.

My boss felt it was misguided, since he himself had more time off than me. HR said: "you, boss, have more time off, because you are in Managerial layer. Your subordinate (me) is not, so he does not".

My boss noted that he has seen people leave the company due to issues like these, and doesn't want to lose me and was concerned. His muttered that if there are different rules for different classes of employees, maybe HR can move me to the class that gets more PTO. He is really looking out for me.

In the end, HR came back with a plan: "What if we let the employee (me) work extra hours per week, to make up the 6 days off that will be taken off for the trip". Draw up an agreement and we'll accept it.

Boss is not happy but after long negotiations that's the best offer HR had thus far. My spouse is not happy & told me to look for new offers. Myself, liking the job so far, is conflicted, and want to get some solid feedback to possibly help sort this thing out. For one I'd rather have the owner give me unpaid time off for the trip instead of making a monetary donation to the University but that was not my call to make.

In Conclusion

In the end... I am not getting the time off for the trip, paid, or unpaid, but can work it off by working overtime, which is not the most convenient. Considering all of the above, what do I do? My thoughts are:

  • Accept HR's offer to make up 6 days by working extra hours
  • Look for new offers
  • Try another negotiation tactics
  • 3
    Really, "let" the company donate to your University - how generous of you. They are giving you the option to work of the time - so it is an inconvenience. Work is an inconvenience - paycheck is a convenience. – paparazzo Apr 2 '15 at 13:54
  • is it an option to work from Florida remotely? – peterPeterson Apr 2 '15 at 15:15
  • @blam, not entirely sure what you are saying. If I stop acting as a favorable liason between company and the University, it's unlikely that a donation will go through unless the company starts working directly with the University. – Chris Apr 2 '15 at 15:19
  • 1
    This answer of mine has a lot of possibilities - workplace.stackexchange.com/a/11481/2322 – enderland Apr 2 '15 at 17:29
  • 2
    What I mean is that is is not always about you. The company does not need your permission to donate money. Really everything is about you and what conveniences you and your partner. They offered for you to make up time and and donate and did not need to do either. How about option 5 - thank you. – paparazzo Apr 2 '15 at 18:34
up vote 13 down vote accepted

First things first - your HR people are not being "misguided". They are entirely correct that by giving you more PTO, employees in similar positions (salaried, non-managers) will want similar arrangements. This creates a headache for them, and a large segment of the staff when they need to tell them no.

Secondly, spending time with your spouse in Florida is a burden placed upon you by your spouse (or yourself). Passing that burden onto your company is your choice. Blaming your company for that is not right.

All that said, your boss is right that people often leave for things like this. But it seems as though your boss and the owner are on your side in this. Two things I would try (in this order):

  1. If your company is contributing money for the University trip, it seems as though you may be acting in an official company capacity during it. If so, why do you need to take PTO for it? This is something to suggest to your boss as a compromise to work around HR's qualms.
  2. Revisit your chat with HR, but invite the owner next time. HR might not like it, but even they have bosses.

After that, it depends on your situation. I might offer to take some unpaid time off if it was that important to me and money was less of a concern. I might apply for other jobs if this one was sufficiently unpleasant. I might threaten leaving the company (while having backup offers) to get what I want if I think that will work and not damage my relationships too much.

But I would also seriously consider why I'm going to these lengths. If my spouse would rather be in Florida than with me, I'm not sure I'd blow up my job to be with them.

  • Thanks. For number 1, my company, and my university, are separate entities. I will be in official capacity of the university, but not the company. I don't know the reason the company wants to support my trip. My guesses are in my question, but it could be that the company wants to develop university relations. – Chris Apr 2 '15 at 13:41
  • 2
    @Chris - right, but if you're doing something that the company sees as beneficial, that is leverage you can use to try and do that on "company time". – Telastyn Apr 2 '15 at 13:45
  • Just to note, unpaid time off has been discussed, but so far went nowhere, it seems. Ideally unpaid time off will work best for me, as it seems one of the lesser inconvenient things for the company to accepted as well. Welp, negotiations so far will continue – Chris Apr 2 '15 at 15:27
  • @JoeStrazzere - no, but them was perhaps ambiguous. Clarified. – Telastyn Apr 2 '15 at 20:03
  • 1
    "They are entirely correct that by giving you more PTO, employees in similar positions (salaried, non-managers) will want similar arrangements.". no, that's not correct. People in similar positions may have quite a different salary, so PTO should not be any different. Similar positions doesn't mean the value provided by each employee is similar. – Andy Apr 2 '15 at 22:22

I think you should look at this from HR's point of view: You want to get more paid holidays than everyone else gets, so that you don't have to choose between a trip you want to go on vs spending time in Florida with your spouse. Just because your boss is personally interested in supporting your university doesn't mean you aren't choosing to take time off work for it.

Everyone in the company (indeed, in most companies) has to make sacrifices when choosing how to spend their holidays. HR are correct to say that if you get extra holidays just because you ask for them, everyone else will expect (and should get) the same.

I think you have just a few options here:

  • Ask to take unpaid leave for the trip (as your expenses are being covered elsewhere). This has the risk of making you look unreliable and not able to accept being told no.

  • Ask the owner to pull rank if he is really invested in this (will probably make you enemies in HR and make things awkward if other employees feel you are getting special treatment.

  • Look for a different job with more flexible holiday arrangements or PTO exceptions for conferences

  • Have your spouse spend some time where you are based rather than risking your job insisting on a trip to Florida

I can't see why they will not let you take unpaid leave. That does not treat you "better" than anyone else. Personally, I think a 10 day PTO is ridiculously short for "salaried" employees, and that's an issue with the company in general.

I also vote for looking for a different job that will provide better benefits for you and your situation (i.e. same-sex spousal/domestic partner benefits). Every company I've worked for for the past 15 years has had partner benefits - it's not something I looked for in a company, but it just worked out that way, and I don't need them.

I have taken unpaid leave in the past (as a contractor, that's the only kind of days off I could ever get!), and I've worked comp time to "pay" for time off. If you're going to work comp time, get it in writing and make sure you take the time off (I've been in situations where I've worked out a comp time arrangement unofficially with my immediate boss and was never able to take the time before a layoff happened and I never got the pay for it, either).

Your SO is right, sort of. You will find that most companies give vacation time based on tenure with the company though, so switching jobs won't necessarily get you more PTO, and very few companies will give that during negotiations as well. It will help you after you get some tenure though.

If your company is giving less PTO for similar tenure then use that argument, that is also valid for same sex partner benefits argument too. If you have been with a company for 5 to 7 years, then 3 weeks is typical. If less then much rarer to see more PTO than 2 weeks.

Work life balance can be hard, and given that you are in a manufacturing company with many hourly people it can be even harder to negotiate that.

If you can find a better job with better benefits go for it, but it sounds like you have a very reasonable boss and one that willing to fight for you, so don't discount that, it's very rare indeed.

I would take them up on the make up hours offer.

First off, the time for negotiations of anything other than pure pay is prior to employment. That's when you want to set expectations. I have on many occasions negotiated more PTO than company standard, however I've only been able to do that prior to accepting a position.

Next, regardless of whether you think the owner and manager are on your side or not, HR reports to the owner. If the owner wanted to let you have extra PTO, then HR would do it - after all, they report to him. So don't be misguided here, the owner has decided what the "standard" PTO time is and isn't budging.

Which leads to this: it's obvious that you aren't getting extra PTO. They have offered for you to take unpaid leave and for you to make it up later. So you have a choice to make. Either you accept the offer or you find somewhere else to work.

Finally, please cut your posts down. The vast majority of it, such as the university things, how much you make, whether you like your job, what you do in your job, that you are gay, whether the company can afford to donate money, etc really have absolutely no bearing here. All that matters is whether you are going to get the extra PTO or not.

  • Updated my post. Not all things are relevant, perhaps, but there were reasons why I have included them into the question. If I didn't like and hated the job, for example, the answers could all go into "look for other offers" direction, and maybe there'd be no question for me in the first place. Things like spousal benefits, matter to the way my spouse influences my decisions. Company-support for my trip may influence how my time off for the trip is negotiated. – Chris Apr 3 '15 at 16:21

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.