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My manager informed me today that he/she was told to tell all his workers (anyone who reports to him) to refrain from submitting any PTO requests for the upcoming holidays through our employee portal (where we have always done it)

We are currently down to just 2 people (one being me), and the other person has already used a ton of PTO time.

PTO can still be requested, but each request is based on:

  • Workload/Business Needs
  • Seniority (There's two people...?)
  • Available PTO
  • Specific Dates

Is this something that is normal/ethical/allowed? I've never heard of anything like this being allowed - aside from days being allowed based off seniority.

  • 3
    Please add your location – Simon Sep 13 '17 at 17:17
  • Added @Simon - let me now if you need anything else – confusedandamused Sep 13 '17 at 17:26
  • Do you have a "use it or lose it" policy, or is unused PTO carried to the next year? – thursdaysgeek Sep 13 '17 at 17:35
  • @thursdaysgeek Yup - allotted days per year and they do not roll over. – confusedandamused Sep 13 '17 at 17:44
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It's very normal to limit PTO to times that are best for a company, so not at a traditionally busy time, not when the person has already used their PTO.

Talk to your manager and ask for clarification. It's possible that the portal is not working, as Xavier says, it's possible that they want PTO to be taken but not during holiday times, it's possible it needs to be run past the boss first, it's possible there is something else going on.

Don't be angry or confrontational. Just be curious:

Hey boss, I still have N days of PTO left and you know we're required to use that before the end of the year. That's part of my compensation, so I'm wondering about this information about not submitting PTO requests through the portal. Is it broken, or is there something else going on? I was planning on using the time at (insert holiday here), but if that won't work, when is a good time to set my PTO? If it turns out it can't be used because of business needs, will there be a way to carry it over or cash it out this time?

In other words, assume that you will get the compensation they have said you will get, but be willing to work with them in order to get it. (Don't bring up options you're not comfortable with, if you'd prefer not to carry it over or cash it out).

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It seems that your manager qualified the instructions -- "through our employee portal" and you've overlooked that part. Have you considered the idea that maybe the portal's not working correctly? Maybe you should ask for clarification.

The four criteria you shared for getting PTO granted are nothing unusual at all. I could see those criteria being applied just about anywhere.

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    Those four criteria have been used in every single job I have ever had except the seniority one. Businesses must have the flexibility to plan for who will be there at which times. If the OP's group is down to two people it becomes even more critical to make sure that every day is covered. There is absolutely nothing unreasonable here. – HLGEM Sep 13 '17 at 17:27
  • @HLGEM it is entirely unreasonable. Employees should be encouraged to submit PTO requests through the portal. If for operational reasons it is not possible to grant the specific PTO request, then management can use the same portal to communicate that (i.e., reject the request). The employee can make alternative plans. (If I can't take Tuesday off, can I take Wednesday off, etc.) As it is now, I am hearing the message that the employee is not getting any PTO. – emory Sep 13 '17 at 17:31
  • He may have qualified the instructions, but not using the portal seems very strange - that is also used to track PTO balances and many other things. – confusedandamused Sep 13 '17 at 17:33
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    @emory If you're trying to place an online order with your neighborhood starbucks, and are unsuccessful, do you pitch a fit when you call the store and they tell you the online system isn't working right? Do you call Corporate and complain that the store won't sell you coffee? – Xavier J Sep 13 '17 at 17:35
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    @XavierJ I do not have a problem with non electronic PTO requests. However, if the OP has always done PTO requests through the portal and it is suddenly changing now, then I think the burden is on the employer to explain the alternative request procedure. – emory Sep 13 '17 at 18:23

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