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I have been offered a job, but no start date yet. I'm confirmed to go away in November to volunteer assisting children in South America for two weeks (helping to build homes etc) but during my interviews the mention of holidays etc never came up and I was thinking I wouldn't get through all stages of the interview process - it was very competitive!

Now I'm not sure what to tell the employer/will they retract the offer? Will they see it as holidays? The company is very community minded and encourage volunteering among its employees.

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    "encourage volunteering" - Is there an official policy? If there is a program in place see if you can qualify for it.
    – Bowen
    Aug 28, 2015 at 18:38
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    Welcome to The Workplace. I've marked your question as a duplicate of one about already-planned vacation; check out the answers there. If you feel that the reason for the absence makes yours a different question (e.g. if your new employer has a volunteer-support program or something), please edit to clarify the difference. Thanks and good luck with the new job! Aug 28, 2015 at 18:58
  • Definitely think Monica's excellent answer on the linked question covers this one well - the additional detail of encouraging volunteerism means they're more likely to accede to your request, but otherwise it seems similar to me!
    – Joe
    Aug 28, 2015 at 21:02

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The best thing to do for you right now is to tell your employer as soon as possible. Usually it's not the most ideal to go away as soon as your employment starts but your situation is a little bit different. Typically, they will treat it as vacation time, which will be deducted from your 0 hours.

When telling them, request the time off, do not demand it. It will make the employer feel uncomfortable. Make him feel as if the company is a priority for you and it just turns out that the timing didn't work out.

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  • Thank you for the response. My trip was booked since February and it was sheer luck I got this job which is why I'm in this dilemma. As I mentioned above if there is a problem with the two weeks I hope they will allow me at least five days as I would hate to let down the other volunteers.
    – Maresta
    Aug 28, 2015 at 21:23
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A lot of companies are now supporting paid days for doing volunteer work. However this is usually only a handful of days. So two weeks is probably going to be a bit for them to swallow. Be prepared for that and be ready to make a compromise.

As Leah said, start by communicating right away and then by requesting and putting the choice in their hands.

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  • Thank you. This company is well known for their community and volunteer work however the more I read the comments I can see two weeks will probably be too much for them to allow. I am willing to compromise - five days or total cancellation. At least the money I've already paid will go towards the project.
    – Maresta
    Aug 28, 2015 at 21:30

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