It has been one year since I got a job offer, and since then I've used some sick days but never used my vacation time And in the next several months I'm planning to visit my family in Japan..it has been two years since I visited my family and most importantly my grandmother's health is getting worse and I would like to spend more time with her ..so my question is, how should I ask my boss for a month vacation? Do I need to tell him the reasons why I need a month vacation? I'm planning to use my vacation time plus leave without pay.

  • 9
    Do definately be honest. You lose nothing by being honest. Almost nobody will go like "I would have given you a month off but I dislike family visits so no". The other way around is more likely, though.
    – Magisch
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 5:38
  • 4
    Are you in the US? In many jobs taking 2 weeks consecutively is a luxury, 3 is rare and 4 is practically unheard of. The fact that you'd need to take the time unpaid is an indicator of that as well.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 6:29
  • Is there any chance you can do some work while in a remote location, be available for questions or possibly call in meetings?
    – user8365
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 16:38
  • 5
    This is very country-/culture-dependent. In Germany, I know people who have taken off three months to visit relatives (by special arrangement), and parental leave can be 6+ months. Actually, some employers frown on employees who do not take at least one vacation of at least two weeks each year. But then, we typically have 5-6 weeks per year...
    – sleske
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 9:11
  • +1 with others : it depends on the country you are working in. In France, a colleague took 5 consecutive weeks(her yearly total), and while unusual, noone was shocked. In the USA, from what I've heard, it's another music.
    – gazzz0x2z
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 14:47

5 Answers 5


Ask and get approval before you make any date commitments or travel arrangements. Tell them that you are returning to visit family overseas, you will likely get a more positive response to that than if you just say you want to take a month off. Also go in with a plan for how your work will get done in that long absence.

Some of our immigrant employees have taken two weeks at the end of one year and then two weeks at the start of the next to help avoid too much leave without pay. Just be aware that if you take leave in advance of earning it, you may have to pay it back if you leave the job before you have earned it. This also tends to be a down time for many companies so they may be happier about a long absence during the holiday season.

If it is possible for you to work remotely, consider asking if you can take two weeks off and then work remotely from the other country for two weeks. This is more likely to be granted if this works for the kind of work you do.

Adding @Horuskol's excellent comment.

Ask as far in advance as possible. Barring an emergency, I'll let my boss know I'd like a month away to Europe at least 1 year in advance for planning. Then finalise the actual dates around flights once that month is approved

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    Ask as far in advance as possible. Barring an emergency, I'll let my boss know I'd like a month away to Europe at least 1 year in advance for planning. Then finalise the actual dates around flights once that month is approved
    – HorusKol
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 0:06

To start off, I can't give you legal advice on what consequences this could have for you, but if you're in the US, your employer could fire you for taking it, fire you during it, and fire you after it, so if you believe that your employer is liable to do that you might want to re-think the entire plan.

Asides from that, or if you're in Europe, just ask. Be honest about why you want a month off, and inform yourself prior to asking what consequences your absence might have. This is important because you need to make sure that your company can do without you for a month. That includes finishing projects where applicable or telling other people that might need to fill in for you about tasks that they will have to do.

Other then that it will probably be the decision of your boss. Be prepared for questions like "How will Task X be handled when you're away for a month?" or "How do you plan to take this?" (combined leave + unpaid some leave).

Its worth noting that if you're in the US, unless your employer is very much interested in retaining you, a full month of vacation at once is almost unheard of.

  • 1
    I'm from europe and to prevent the company from getting into weird situations like this they have a rule. For every work day you take off, you need to tell them in advance for another day. so a 1 month vacation should be told at least a month earlier. However it's always a good idea to double that time.
    – Migz
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 10:57
  • @Migz - that's not a bad rule. I ask my guys for three times the notice - although, lenient on family emergencies and such. I typically know 12 months in advance (though not specific dates)
    – HorusKol
    Commented Apr 28, 2016 at 0:04

I work in the US and I have taken a month off a couple times. It really depends on your employer. When I am interviewing with companies I am upfront about how much time I would like to take off. I always plan the trips far in advance and work with my employer to figure out the best solution.

I suggest you come up with a proposal for the time off and how to handle your workload while you are away. Take it to your boss and go from there.


In order to get the a chunk of time off without serious consequences you probably need to answer the following questions in your bosses mind:

  • Why do you want to work where you are? Your family being far away does pose a conflict. You have to convince him that this job is where you want to be long term.

  • How many trips do you plan to take in the future, and what is the impact on productivity?

  • Can you be assigned important responsibilities while your family is experiencing strain?

In the end you have to make the case that your trip/s aren't going to impact productivity more than other team members vacations, and if they do, then it will be temporary.

If I were you, I wouldn't go to my boss with my mind set on a particular amount of time. I would just express that I want some time to travel to see my Grandmother before she dies and that I am willing to sacrifice vacation at other times of the year to do it. You seem to be in a good position to convince him since you haven't taken vacation for a full year. Then start negotiating. this seems like a much better recipe for success then just asking for a whole month out of the gate.

It also wouldn't hurt to express that you want to succeed at this company and are talking with him to make sure that the vacation doesn't permanently impact that. Then there is the culture card; especially in corporate environments, management is usually motivated to accommodate for differing customs and cultures, so explaining how family expectation differ between Japan and wherever you are may help (I'm assuming its somewhere in Europe or the US).


Being a boss myself I appreciate employees who are straight up and honest with me. I am a family guy and I feel that family is very important, especially when it comes to loved ones being sicks.

Also I wouldn't worry about your job because you are protected by the Family and Medical Leave Act which protects your job, medical benefits and pay.

  • I agree, honesty is best and most employers would understand.
    – Kilisi
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 4:47
  • That assumes the OP is in the US. Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 5:50
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    -1 for the second paragraph which is factually incorrect. Apart from assuming that the OP is American as @sevenseacat points out, there's also the problem that FMLA doesn't cover all employees and companies and that it doesn't cover this situation at all, which you'd know if you had actually read the information on the link you provide.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 6:32

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