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So I just got a new job that I really like A LOT, and the vacation policy is quite generous (15 accrued days and 7 floating days). I plan on taking them all next year due to planned outings and music festivals I plan to attend. Obviously I don't plan to take any days off for the next few months as I get through the probationary period.

I want to take 2 days off in March, followed by 4 in June, and then 8 in August-September. Is this a bit too much to ask for as a first-year employee? I don't want to be viewed as a slacker. My boss is a cool guy but a weirdo in the sense that he never takes vacation and prides himself on that, and I figure it would be hard for me to push for raises and promotions under a guy with that philosophy.

What do you guys think?

11 Answers 11

126

Always use your vacation. Your boss not using his is idiotic. Most people who don't take vacation are actually scared that things might run more smoothly with them out. Take yours. Definitely don't set a precedent on not taking even some. It is your benefit and no one other than your boss will even notice that you worked through your vacation times.

To keep your group productive though you can ask your boss when big projects are due or when other people are taking vacation and schedule some of your time when it is more convenient for the group, especially since you are new. But use everything, just plan further ahead.

Note: There are one-off exceptions. I was told a few years ago that my company did not want me leaving for my two week vacation time I had scheduled in December. We had no roll-over plan for vacation so I would lose it if I didn't take off. I agreed to work a x1.5 pay (I was salary so this had to be signed off at exec level). Point being is that there are certain circumstances a company may ask you to forego but you should be duly compensated. If I would have just worked through this as a favor my boss and maybe boss's boss would have gave me a big thank you. But after the CTO (huge multinational) had to sign-off on it I not only got paid but was highly recognized and CTO even gave me a ring. Without getting paid the recognition would probably go to your manager - and it isn't really a good thing that a manager would manipulate employees into not taking vacation. Just the manager mentioning to a new employee that they don't take vacation is definitely manipulative in my opinion.

  • 42
    I know a financial analyst that does auditing. The first list of people he investigates are those that don't take vacations, because they're terrified of being discovered when they're not there. Take your vacations :) – Nelson Dec 11 '15 at 0:59
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    @Nelson in some lines of business, people in various positions in audit & accounting (and other departments where cooking books could happen) are required to take vacation for exactly that reason - to expose any funny business when they're not around (because things run "differently" then). – alroc Dec 11 '15 at 3:48
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    I contract at a bank at the moment. Every single employee & contractor at any level is required to take 2 weeks continuous holiday at some point during every full calendar year...and all their access to the systems gets locked out during that 2 weeks. – Tim B Dec 11 '15 at 9:49
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    Every company I ever worked for here requires you to take all your vacation properly. People need that recreation, and they should never be able to be pressurized into not taking it. – Magisch Dec 11 '15 at 10:51
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    @HugoRocha yes. If you're instrumental for normal functioning of a business at all times, then you cannot be promoted/sick/etc. – Jared Smith Dec 11 '15 at 14:12
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You should never feel ashamed to take the time off since it's there for you to use. Work-life balance is important. Just make sure you give your co-workers and your boss enough notice before you suddenly vanish and (if applicable) attempt to leave your current tasks in a state where if necessary they can be taken over by others.

If you're feeling some kind of pressure that you shouldn't use it, there might be deeper problems ahead.

13

If you've earned the Leave, then take it. The further in advance you ask for the Leave, then the more likely that it will be Approved.

We all have our own quirks and eccentricities and those sometimes manifest themselves in when we take Leave. Not everyone takes 2 to 4 weeks off during the summer to visit Yellowstone. I take some Leave throughout the year on days my kids are off school. Makes it easier on the wife, and I get to spend more time with them.

Some places will take into consideration seniority for Leave, so the boss will likely look at when others are planning to take off next year. As such, it's possible your Leave won't get approved until more senior staff have asked for and been given Leave next year.

As for the boss being a cool, weirdo, workaholic, that may or may not be cause for concern. Maybe he hates his wife. Maybe he is a little insecure about himself. Maybe he really loves what he does. Maybe he is just a weirdo.

If you're skilled, capable, and competent, then that should be the reason for getting raises and promotions in the future. If over time you discover that isn't the case, and this guy only promotes other workaholics, then at some point down the road you be forced to consider if you want to work for a company that is ruled by workaholics. However, that is down the road and extremely hypothetical today. Don't sweat problems that have not appeared, and enjoy the music. As you know, music makes it go round in circles, and fly high like a bird up in the sky.

7

Paid time off is part of the compensation package, so there is no need to feel like a slacker when using it. That said, communication is always key, courteous and professional. If you already have plans for outings & festivals, let your employer know the dates. A couple weeks before the time off, send a courtesy reminder email that your time off is coming up.

If you feel more comfortable waiting until the probationary period is complete, that is fine, just make sure you have ample lead time, say 4-6 weeks.

6

It is very important that you always take your vacation days. Vacation days (paid vacation) are directly part of your compensation package that you negotiated with the company when you started. They knew what they were getting, as did you. Those days are there for you to use.

If your boss doesn't take his vacation, he is acting badly for his own interest (increased stress due to not having proper vacations) aswell as badly in the company's interest (increased stress due to not having proper vacations hurts productivity).

If you get pressured into not taking vacation days, reject that pressure firmly. If they want to keep it up, look for another job and leave. Work life Balance is very important and you should not compromise your (mental) health just because of some loon notion of your boss.

All that said, its best practice to not take PTO until after the Probationary Period, and to give notice for it early.

3

Can you carry days in to next year?

In the US some companies allow you to bring some unused time off into the following year. Others have a "use it or lose it" policy. Check your company policy.

I've seen people stop accruing because they can't take more vacation, and then they're forced to take time off at inopportune times. Don't let that happen to you. You're given time off for a reason - it's not "slacking" if you use what you're given (and what attracted you to there in the first place).

If you can't use what they offer, the place is messed up and you should get out of there. (It's sad, but I've experienced this and I know it happens)

3

Despite some great answers here and I very much support using vacation that you earn, it is important to note that your planned vacation time not exceed your accrued vacation time (assuming you accrue vacation days, like at most companies). That is not really appropriate in general, and especially in your first year.

Based on your plans you will have used 14 vacation days after accruing only 9 or 10. You probably need approval for this and should be very careful when approaching your boss to discuss this. While sometimes planned trips in the first year demand this, your "plans" do not involve weddings, anniversaries or other important lifetime milestones or a lifetime personal milestone (religious ceremony, for example).

You should use accumulate vacation days and then use them. Not use them and then pay them back, as a general rule.

EDIT:

Based on your comment, you will probably not have an accrual problem. Because some people may read your question and not see that, I will leave my answer.

Also, I will add that after reading all of these responses that are very supportive of taking vacation time - they all seem to disregard that not everyone appreciates that perspective. Personally, I take less vacation - but that's because I genuinely enjoy my job and work life. I suppose that's pretty rare, but taking circumstances into account is very important. You should probably be more cautious in your first year, if your lifestyle and well-being are not overly compromised in doing so. If they are, then maybe you need a different manager or job. Your weirdo boss is the one that determines your career, not the people that are supportive of vacation and personal time answering the questions on this forum. Right or wrong, that is reality.

  • I have 7 floating vacation days that I get at the beginning of each year and last thoughout the end of the year. I was planning on using these as a way to bypass the accrual issue you just described. – Lawrence Aiello Dec 11 '15 at 14:49
1

A factor not mentioned in the other answers is the length of your vacation. You mention 2 days and then 4 days, relatively short periods. Short vacations are easier to handle for your work coverage-wise, and I think establishing early on that you like to take your vacation in smaller increments could be a positive.

0

Something the other answers have not touched on: promotion.

Most of the answers talk about work/life balance, what you are owed as an employee, how vacation is part of your compensation, etc.

All of that's well and good, but its the kind of thing you might be willing to pass on if you're young and trying to make your mark, bucking for promotion.

But that mentality is dangerously flawed in terms of actually achieving the stated goal: if you are essential to the normal operation of a business then you are unpromotable. They need you too badly in your current role. Your best bet for promotion is to automate yourself as much as possible and then ask for more responsibility.

How asking for a bunch of vacation days fits in to that is your call, but contributing to a culture where the goal is to make yourself 'essential' is contributing to a culture where they hire from the outside instead of promoting from within. Ignore vacation at your peril.

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    Working better = promotion... but while you are young you can learn that volume doesn't matter. – blankip Dec 11 '15 at 16:55
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    Yep. Been in plenty of jobs where work will ramp up to fill your capacity. And it'll continue to ramp up just as long as you're keeping up with it. If someone quits and you shoulder the load, then it becomes normal and 'just what you do' and clearly was within your capacity (Even if you did complain about it). Pull out all the stops once a quarter, and you're the big hero. Do it every day, and it's 'normal' and becomes 'expected'. – Sobrique Dec 11 '15 at 19:11
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If he doesn't take vacations it's ok. It's his choice so, if he's ok with that there are no problems. My advice is: use your vacations, always.

There are a lot of reasons to use that:

  1. You need time for you and for your family, spend one or two weeks for a holiday is something you have to do in order to recharge yourself.
  2. If you don't use your benefits, you could start a vicious circle. Your colleagues could start to think that you are refusing a benefit just to appear a better employee. It happened to me and was a bad situation.

  3. In some countries the vacation days are taxed so if you don't consume these days your company will pay a lot of money. I don't know if this can be applied to your country but in Italy (my country) there are several taxes your company have to pay for vacations days you don't use.

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    "If you don't use your benefits you could start a vicious circle and your colleagues could start to tink that you are refusing a benefit just to appear as a better employer to your boss.It happened to me and was a bad situation." Eh? – Lightness Races in Orbit Dec 11 '15 at 10:40
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    Race-to-the-bottom scenario – Sobrique Dec 11 '15 at 19:08
  • @LightnessRacesinOrbit: Should have said employee. – MSalters Dec 17 '15 at 1:44
  • @MSalters: It doesn't make much more sense with the typo corrected. – Lightness Races in Orbit Dec 17 '15 at 10:33
  • @LightnessRacesinOrbit: You could read it as: "Workers who take less vacation are better workers because they work more", according to the poster. But you'll just burn yourself out and then you'll be on a far longer "vacation". – Juha Untinen Dec 17 '15 at 12:14
-6

I can't believe how naive you people are.

Vacation days/sick time/whatever PTO are there to get you to take the job. You're not supposed to actually USE them.

Employers don't like being reminded that their workers are human beings and not machines. Human beings whine about being exhausted and stressed out and never seeing their families and blah blah blah whine whine whine. No, they should go work harder.

In most companies I've worked at, your yearly performance/compensation review is conducted by your manager and possibly their supervisor. Performance review is a highly subjective thing. You can try to remove as much bias as you want, but at the end of the day, your manager is judging your performance based on his/her own impression or opinion.

Now, let's say Alice and Bob have the same position, they're both Widget Polishers II. Alice takes all her vacation time and most of her personal days, as you all believe she should. When she is not in the office, her co-workers have to pick up the slack. Suddenly instead of having to polish 1000 widgets a day, now her co-workers have to polish 1250. Her co-workers are annoyed and stressed out, their job performance suffers, and things are generally bad because she DARED to take her vacation time. Alice's boss makes a note of how often she's out and causing trouble for the rest of the team.

Bob, on the other hand, knows how these things work. He never misses work, even when he's throwing up in the bathroom every 15 minutes. He doesn't take vacation, he even might forego company holidays. Bob's boss knows he can count on him to be there and do his job.

Who do you think gets the better performance review? Hint: Not Alice. Alice will find herself resented by her co-workers, her boss will be annoyed he has to put up with surly workers, and her performance numbers will suffer. If she takes all her vacation days and all her sick days, that's 22,000 widgets she didn't polish that year. Bob, on the other hand, polished 25,000 more widgets than Alice did because he didn't take any of his vacation time or personal days, and worked overtime for no extra pay because he's a "team player".

Yeah, don't take vacation days, not if you ever want a performance review above "meets expectations" and the 1.5% raise that goes with it. In the USA, you are, with only a few exceptions, not guaranteed any paid time off, period. A few localities/states have passed mandatory sick leave laws, and you have never heard such howling from employers. They whine about it raising unemployment because now, instead of paying someone for 40 hours and getting 40 hours' work, they're paying for 40 hours and only getting 32 hours' work. Lots of people find that to be personally offensive - why should you get paid if you're not working? If you ever try to tell them about "exhaustion" and "recharging" and "time with one's family", they say that they understand the need for time off, but in reality, you're punished for taking it.

Oh, and don't forget that nearly everyone in the USA who is not part of a collective bargaining agreement is considered an "at-will" employee. You can be fired at any time for no reason without notice or any severance pay. When your boss can snap his fingers and put you on the curb, you're not in a great position to demand what you've been promised.

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    If this is what you truly believe, you are truly unbelievalbe...Are you a troll? – Anthony Dec 13 '15 at 3:21
  • You are the one who is truly delusional...a person who works in the manner you described would quickly burn out and be LESS productive. Being a team player does not mean you become a slave to your employer and working overtime for no extra pay is illegal for most but the smallest of employers. – Anthony Dec 13 '15 at 3:25
  • Anthony: No, I am an American Worker. Welcome to the real world. Logic not included. – Zachary Burnham Dec 13 '15 at 3:47
  • Yes, of course they burn out and get less productive, I didn't say they wouldn't. You're proceeding from the assumption that your employer gives a hoot whether you're burned out or not. Being a "team player" for most workers means sacrificing your time and health for your employer's benefit. And if you're an "exempt" employee, your employer is not required to pay you for anything over 40 hours in a week, even if you work 90. – Zachary Burnham Dec 13 '15 at 3:50
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    See this article on why vacations actually help businesses. Healthy employees lead to lower healthcare costs, less turnover, and more productivity. A worker who is afraid to take vacation and suffers a mental stress breakdown will not do ANY good for the company and will instead become a liability. See article from a reputable source: shrm.org/hrdisciplines/employeerelations/articles/pages/… – Anthony Dec 13 '15 at 4:50

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