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I'm seeking advice about a matter of vacation time at my workplace. Here's the story. I have been wanting to go to a large music festival for quite some time, years actually. I decided that this was the year. The festival is set to take place at the end of September. I asked my manager if it would be okay for me to request off for the 7 days needed for the festival and travel. He said yes. I then proceeded to purchase my tickets, which cost over $550 and are non-refundable. I purchased the tickets on a payment plan over the course of three months. All of management were well aware I was going to this festival during the course of these months I was paying. In the middle of paying I submitted a formal time off request in our system. The time off request was sent and approved by management in January. An issue came up about three weeks ago, our stores annual overnight transformation is set to take place on the Saturday that I will be out of town. The managers were concerned that I would not be there but did not revoke my approved time off.

Yesterday my manager had a conversation with me and told me that they need me there and I will be required to come into work. I calmly stated that I will get back to him on the matter. I was obviously upset but did not show it.

I do not know what to do. I love my job and make good money. I just can't see myself throwing away more than $550 for the tickets I have already purchased. Not to mention I have made plans with 4 of my friends who are all expecting me to be driving with them. The tickets are non-refundable and cannot be resold since they are camping passed with my information tied to them. I am questioning the legal right of this matter as the ethical right is clearly of no regard to the management of my store.

Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thank you!

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    That is just rude. You are clearly a critical resource and they don't respect your life. If you are critical resource not not available then they should reschedule the transformation. I know we all need a job but that sucks. I get if vacation time is blacked out in advance but they approved that time. It is not just the money - you made plans with friends. As for legal you have to hire an attorney but no attorney is going to take this on for $550. – paparazzo Jun 2 '15 at 2:17
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    Wouldn't it be unfortunate if you gave them your two weeks notice two weeks before your planned holiday? – Carson63000 Jun 2 '15 at 3:20
  • How exactly is your ticket tied/bound to you? Here in Holland you can re-sell your ticket for i.e. a festival. Your name is on the ticket, but at the entrance they won't ask for your ID/passport to verify it's actually your ticket. – Edwin Lambregts Jun 2 '15 at 14:22
  • In the immortal words of Ivan Locke: F*** Chicago – ghoppe Jun 2 '15 at 17:39
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    @MikeOunsworth - those laws are usually restricted to municipal code. For instance, here in Colorado, Denver prohibits it, but most of the surrounding municipalities don't. The law is also about as effective as a "Please don't F*rt" sign at a chili cook-off. – Wesley Long Jun 2 '15 at 21:39
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First, you should politely remind your boss that you made non-refundable plans based on his prior approval.

Next, it would be a good idea to see if you can find a positive solution to the dilemma. For example, can you do some additional preparation work in advance so your presence is not needed? Can you arrange for a coworker to take your place? Can you be on call at specific times while at the festival?

If your boss still insists that you cancel your plans, then you can request to be compensated for canceling your plans and/or you can threaten to leave your job for something else.

Given the long lead time between now and the festival, there is a reasonable chance that the company's plans or timelines will change in the mean time. Depending on how strongly you feel, you might wait longer to see if they will change before forcing the issue. You might also use the large time window to look for a new job and make them aware that you have previously made plans for that week that you cannot change.

  • Thank you for the advice. I plan on going into work today and discussing this with him. I will see how he reacts and go from there. Once again, thank you! – Eric Jun 2 '15 at 12:51
  • I'm sure if you promised to work 7AM to 11 PM for long enough days they'd agree : ) – Adel Jun 2 '15 at 19:04
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If they want you to work, five months after approving your holiday, the minimum they need to do to make this acceptable is to refund your cost. (And since you paid $550 out of your taxed income, they'd have to make sure that you receive $550 in your pocket, not $550 that need to be taxed). They are just lucky that it's just $550 of tickets, not a flight to some exotic country with you and your two children.

Even then it is extremely rude, since this is an experience that you won't be able to have again for quite some time. So I would expect the company to do what they can to move the work, or find someone else to do it. If they don't care, use the time until September to find a different job, take your holiday, and two weeks notice before the trip.

PS. It happens that in many stores, many of the managers are just idiots, who cannot imagine in their feeble little minds that you might have other interests than working for the store, and they'd rather have you lose your vacation than phoning around for ten minutes to find a replacement. You might have a chance if you manage to contact someone higher up the chain who actually has a brain.

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First, you should politely remind your boss that you made non-refundable plans based on his prior approval.

I quote this because this is an important first step and it was first said in this answer. I would probably go so far as to point out that this is something you have been hoping to make happen for year and it is important to you.

However instead of trying to dig in your heels on the issue, try to work with your manager on a compromise. Something like, "So is there something we can do ahead of time to make sure I am not needed here?" The idea here is to get your manager looking to find some alternatives that allows you your time off with out creating problems for your manager and coworkers. If there are some things you can think of that would make it easier for you to miss, then I would even suggest some of those right off the bat. Showing that you are willing to go that extra mile to make your trip happen, may make your manager more willing to do their part as well.

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