I'm asking this question on behalf of a friend a mine which wants to remain anonymous.

My friend recently passed an interview for a position and was called the day after to tell him he got the job. This is kind of a big deal because my friend just moved to the country and this first experience would be really good to have on his resume.

The position was advertised as being for 6 months, replacing an employee that will go on paternity leave.

A few days after the first phone call, my friend was called back and they told him they made a mistake and that the position would only be for 4 months, and that his start date would likely be delayed for 2 months.

My friend initialy planned to leave 2 weeks during the summer to go back to his birth-country, for a family wedding (someone close). Everything is paid for already (plane tickets, hotel).

The problem now, is that this holiday period might now happen only a couple of days/weeks after the beginning of the contract. On top of that, 4 months of employment don't grant you the same amout of days-off so he would have to take unpaid holidays (which is fine to him but subject to approval by his new employer).

My friend wanted to tell his new employer about that right away, as he thought he would sign the contract soon. But now that things are delayed, he is afraid that telling them he intends to leave for two weeks might cause them to organize another interview round and that they end up hiring someone else, more available. After all, my friend hasn't signed anything yet.

I'm not sure how to advise him: what is the best course of action in these circumstances ? On one hand, waiting for the last moment to "ask" for these holidays might not be well received by the employer, but on another hand giving them too much notice might give them enough time to find someone else.

In short: How and when is it the best time to negotiate holidays when starting a new job ?

  • 1
    The answer might be different for a short-term contract versus a permanent position. Apr 21, 2015 at 18:19

3 Answers 3


Short answer: Up front. If you have planned those holidays, make sure that you inform any prospective employer that you intend to take some time off. Being unpaid leave will be an advantage to them in the respect that at least they don't have to pay you without the accrued time.

The biggest reason to do it is that it's polite and it's professional. To spring that on a new employer AFTER you commence will not be taken well. I know as a manager, I would not be impressed. If I knew up front, I could factor that into my deliverables and see if it works for what I need to have completed. It then becomes an informed decision for me whether I can manage a small resource gap.

Tell them up front, if they feel you are a suitable candidate even with the gap, they will hire you. If not, then take your holiday THEN look for a job.

  • Agree that the time is before accepting. In this particular case I think it highly probable the company won't allow the 2 weeks vacation in the middle of what is a very short term engagement.
    – NotMe
    Apr 20, 2015 at 22:48
  • @NotMe Well, it depends on the time frames of the project and the skill set of the candidate. If the person is very capable and there is some latitude in milestones then these are all taken into consideration.
    – Jane S
    Apr 20, 2015 at 22:57
  • @JaneS Thanks for this honest answer. My friend had the interview 20 days ago (there was some uncertainty after the second phone call and he just got word from the employer today that things were confirmed on their side - but still no start date). What is a good way to present the fact that he did not come clear sooner regarding what was known a long time ago ? It might be his first job and has not much experience in interviews : would that count as a valid reason ? (it's actually the truth)
    – ereOn
    Apr 20, 2015 at 23:13
  • @ereOn I would simply apologise for not mentioning it earlier. Don't make excuses, simply state the fact, apologise, and give THEM the option of withdrawing. By being prepared to do that, he should earn some respect and given how far down the path, they may still go with him. If he waits until first day, that is too late.
    – Jane S
    Apr 20, 2015 at 23:41
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    @JaneS: That was my feeling as well but I like the way you worded it. Thanks for your answer and the follow up. I'll hope my friend will still get the job, but we'll see what happens for him.
    – ereOn
    Apr 20, 2015 at 23:54

How and when is it the best time to negotiate holidays when starting a new job ?

I'm surprised this wasn't discussed during the interviews.

Whenever I hire a contractor, I always ask if the candidate has any time off planned for the duration of the project.

In general, for short projects (3-6 months) I can't hire a contractor that will plan to be absent more than a day or two. For projects of 1 or more years, I would expect 1 or 2 weeks of vacation per year. If this doesn't fit in the contractor's plans, then he/she is probably not the right candidate. Our projects just don't have the flexibility to give up 2 weeks in a 4 month contract.

Since it wasn't brought up by the interviewer, your friend should have mentioned it, once it was clear that the time away overlapped the project. At this time, he should probably contact the employer and find out if this will be a problem or not. Every company is different, and many projects are different. It might not matter, but he won't know without asking.

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    Interesting. I usually don't ask.I figure if it's important to the candidate then they'll bring it up. If it's not then I'm just opening a potential negotiation point. I absolutely agree that for a 4 month contract there's no way we'd allow a 2 week vacation period in the middle of it. Paid or otherwise.
    – NotMe
    Apr 20, 2015 at 22:49

MOst hiring managwers I have known will try to work around a pre-planed and paid for vacation. However, it woudl be less appreciated if you tell them after signing the contract. It might even be enough less appreciated that they tell you no when they would have said yes if you had told them at the time of contract negotiation. If they are going to say no in either event, then telling them just advances the data of heraing no a little and you can move on to a differnt opportunity instead of wasting your time on this one. THere is no down side at all to telling them in the contract negotiation phase as the only ones likely to say no are those who would have said no after you started the job.

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