My boss recently sent me an email asking me to choose a period of the year for my vacation time, but specified that I had to choose a 20 day period, while the law in my country determines that the employee has the right to 30 days of vacation and the alternative to choose 20 days is up to him, with the remaining 10 days being paid in cash, equal to a third of his or her salary, and as a trade-off the company has the right to choose when the vacation should take place. Everyone in the company seems to take 20 days vacation and this seems to be the default, however I would much prefer to take a 30 day vacation.

How do I argue for this without coming off as unprofessional, insubordinate, or worse, "lazy", when the option of taking 20 days was apparently already decided in my behalf?

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    Tell him: "Everyone in the company seems to take 20 days vacation and this seems to be the default, however I would much prefer to take a 30 day vacation" Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 12:16
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    @Zeejet No offense, but who cares what you think is generous? The fact is that he can legally have up to 30 days of vacation and he wants these days. Your personal beliefs and biases are completely irrelevant. Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 16:29
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    Not sure where the close votes are coming from, this seems perfectly on-topic here.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 21:39
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    @Lilienthal Firmly agree. Law states I have an option, employer pressuring me to defer that option to them. How to assert my rights without sending negative message? The only close reason I can see is OP used the word LAW.
    – Myles
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 14:36
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    If that was true it would be better for the company of they would take 30 days right? I think it was rather 1/3 of 30 days Commented Feb 13, 2023 at 13:46

3 Answers 3


First thing first - just ask for it. It sounds like your boss assumed you would take 20 days, since that's what is normal for your office. There's no indication that he will argue if you tell him that you actually want to take the 30 days.

However, if he tells you that you are not allowed to take the 30 days, then you need to push back. I don't have a strong understanding of Brazilian employment laws, but this article gives a pretty clear explanation (emphasis mine):

In Brazil, any worker has the right to 30 days of paid vacation per year.*
Employees have the right to get a vacation bonus instead of taking leave from work. This means that up to 10 days of vacation can be converted in actual money. This is the worker’s right and cannot be denied by the employer.

Point out politely that it is illegal for your boss to deny you those 10 days. Make sure to try not to sound like you are threatening him, just reminding him of the law. If he is still insistent, then you need to go to your company's HR and talk to them in more detail.

*This assumes you don't have more than 5 unexcused absences.

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    Definitely talk to the person that has the better understanding of the labor laws. It may not be the boss.
    – user8365
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 13:13
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    Withotu wanting to sound like a lawyer, the problem here isn't that the employer denies the right to convert 10 days, but that he requires it. However, with that he does deny the worker the primary right to 30 days vacation.
    – MSalters
    Commented Jun 2, 2016 at 12:59

Just to be clear (wrt. some comments/answers here) about : yes, it's true, you can't be forced to sell your vacation days. But you also can't force your employer to give you 30 consecutive days of vacation. The law on Brazil is that an employee gets 30 days of vacation yearly, but (disclaimer: because of legislation changes in 2017, the second item was different, here is the info for early 2023):

  • the employer sets the date (it's generally courteous to agree upon, or at least the employer gives an window of days ─ for instance, once I was told I couldn't take vacation 3 months before Carnival because that was our peak season);
  • the vacation can be divided in up to three periods, but one period must be at least 15 days long, and every period must be at least 5 days long (see footnote for details about 2016);
  • during vacation, you get a bonus of a third of the salary (counted by days) you'd receive in the period you're off (if you're off for 10 days, it's a third of what you'd receive for those 10 days only);
  • the employee can ─ but cannot be forced to ─ sell up to 10 days, getting the full salary he'd receive for those days plus a third as a bonus (so, for example, my monthly salary is 1000, I sell 10 days, I'll receive my full salary, plus a bonus of 333 [equiv. to 10 days] + 111 [a third of those 10 days]).

Bottom line is: the employer has the final word on you taking 30 days consecutively

Nevertheless, if you have children and want to take a big vacation during school break with them, or if you want to make a big trip to another continent, you could always try and talk to your boss. Be ready to make concessions like trying to finish or at least progress fast in your project(s) before your vacation, or even asking if he'd give you 30 days if it was on another period, maybe there's another time where it's slower and it's easier to be absent for 30 days.

Before 2017

Before, the second item was as follow (what changed in italic):

  • the vacation can be divided in up to two periods, and each period must have at least 10 days (which indirectly means that at least one period would end with 15 or more days anyway).

But the rest of the answer would've been applicable.


So reading this, the normal thing is that there are 30 days where you don't work but get paid. And as an employee you have the right to take only 20 days and get paid a bonus for the 10 days on top of your normal salary. But the employer cannot tell you to have only 20 days. Of course they can ask you and if you agree then they have to pay the bonus.

Insisting on your rights is professional, it's not insubordination, and it's not "lazy". If your employer claims that then you tell them exactly that.

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