Recovering at new job after taking unplanned PTO for the holiday?
May 30, 2014 10:58 AM   Subscribe

Took two days off this week of unplanned PTO at new job, now have an "attendance" meeting next week - how do I recover?

Started a new position (internal transfer) in IT alittle over a month ago after 6 months in a previous role - during that time, I've had to take two half days (dr. appts), was gone for a week due to training, had Memorial Day, and took two days of unplanned PTO this week. After calling in today, my manager notified me that we will sit down and talk about the attendance policy next week. I'm not currently in rotation or have any projects assigned to me but know that for appearance sake's - I shouldn't have taken unplanned PTO. I like my job and don't want to come across as unreliable or a problem employee.

How do I let my boss know that I'm a reliable employee who honestly just didn't realize that taking unplanned PTO was a big deal or how do I recover at work?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (12 answers total)
It's hard to answer this without info as to why you took unplanned PTO. Did you have some sort of medical issue or familiy emergency? Decide to extend the Memorial Day holiday?
posted by WeekendJen at 11:03 AM on May 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

I agree that the reason you took the time might help, if it was related to a medical issue or urgent family problem you might be able to present that information to help your case.

Otherwise, I would simply apologize, explain that you didn't understand the policy since you are new, and then do not take any more time off for several months. And especially not unplanned: request time off a minimum of two weeks beforehand for the foreseeable future, and if possible, forever.
posted by epanalepsis at 11:06 AM on May 30, 2014 [4 favorites]

Agreed with everyone above. Apologize and reiterate you will not be asking for any more time off this year.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:10 AM on May 30, 2014

I agree. I find that if you had a medical or family emergency, then the employer accepts that, but sometimes still has to do due dilligence to make sure you under stand the policy (moreso the more corporate hell your job is).

If this was a spur of the moment fun decision, don't ever do that again, I've seen many a people get fired for that.
posted by WeekendJen at 11:12 AM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Two doctor appointments and two other days of unplanned time off over the course of a month is kind of a lot, yeah.

If you have a specific and urgent (and hopefully temporary) health issue going on, that would probably be the best answer.

If it was mental health days or "that pesky 24 hour bug that seems to be going around" and routine checkups that could easily be rescheduled, you're not going to look great.

I don't think the mandatory training or holiday weekend is really part of it, since those are unavoidable on your part. Unless the issue is that you're not meeting deadlines or managing your time efficiently.
posted by Sara C. at 11:15 AM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Unplanned PTO is for illness or family emergencies. If asked, simply tell your manager that you had something in your family come up and you had to deal with it. (Don't lie, or get into specifics, but leave your manager under the impression that bail had to be paid, and bus tickets from Juarez needed to be procured.)

I'm rather surprised that the attendance policy wasn't explained to you when you first started.

When discussing with your boss, it's important to emphasize that you understand the policy and that you will abide by it in the future. I'd avoid apologizing per se, simply say, "I misunderstood, it won't happen again."

Any time you plan to take off in the future should be discussed with your manager, with a formal or informal request sent to your manager, "Hey Boss, Planning to take December 23-27." Save the notes and replies in your email.

If there's an official calendar, be sure you put your time on it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:17 AM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

How do I let my boss know that I'm a reliable employee who honestly just didn't realize that taking unplanned PTO was a big deal or how do I recover at work?

To me, the key word here is "unplanned." You don't say why you took the PTO, but I presume that it was for some reason other than a true emergency. I manage a staff of around 30, and honestly I have no trouble at all accommodating absences except when they are unforeseen and unpredictable. From your employer's perspective, their employee has been around for only one month and they have already had two "oh I guess that guy is not coming in today" moments.

My advice would be to be honest and apologetic; you are still the new guy so you should have the luxury of a mulligan. My advice would also be that if you do NOT have a good excuse, do not fake one or give some vague answer. That could suggest that your personal life is complicated and distracting and that you will as a result be unreliable. Acknowledge that you should have talked to the boss to understand how PTO/scheduling works and that you will be sure to do so in the future.

You have a right to enjoy the PTO that your employer provides and should not feel guilty for taking time off. But you owe your employer and the boss of your department some ability to anticipate and plan for your absence.

On preview, what (mostly) everyone else has said.
posted by AgentRocket at 11:21 AM on May 30, 2014 [7 favorites]

I think a new employee (regardless of it being internal you're new to this department) can really start off on the wrong foot when they are too lax. In this case, you were too lax with the attendance. Apologize, and then don't take off any days for a while unless they are truly necessary.

One unplanned PTO in a short time frame would slide but two shows a pattern. Show them it's not a pattern, and that you respect them enough to save the unplanned absences for emergencies. Sure you might not have a project now, but you still need to build that mutual trust and respect.
posted by Aranquis at 12:20 PM on May 30, 2014

Many workplaces do not consider two doctor's or dental appointments in a month to be a big deal - I know mine certainly doesn't. I usually schedule where I'm only out for a bit, then head back into work, or do it at the end of the day. I will just arrange to work a few more hours later that day or week (even though we have good sick leave packages: I'd rather save it for a real illness). If I know I'm going to need to do several appointments - say, when I had some dental repair that needed to be done sequentially - I just let my boss know and plan my schedule accordingly. If you're lucky, you'll work in a sane environment that behaves similarly; if you don't have healthy employees, what's the point? I have worked in other places that expected people to work sick or never take vacation. Yuck.

The unplanned paid time off, with no explanation (family emergency for instance), is probably what's sparking this discussion.

In America, many corporate IT departments are structured under unreasonable expectations about work-life balance, especially if IT is one of the weaker departments in a company, and not respected. I have heard many anecdotes from friends and colleagues in IT about people being expected to be on-call, all the time, for bullshit that is not mission-critical, having to give up holidays without getting additional pay, people getting dinner time emails from executives blasting them over ignorance of the company website, blah blah blah. This discussion comes up frequently on the TechRepublic website, for instance.

So, although unplanned PTO is one of those things most places frown on, I would consider that even within a company, expectations about time off can range wildly.
posted by mitschlag at 12:25 PM on May 30, 2014

If "unplanned PTO" means "I called in in the morning to say I wasn't coming, and then I did it again the next day," then yeah, I can understand why your boss wants to call you in for a meeting about the attendance policy. I would do the same for my employees. Your doctor's appointments and your training are probably not relevant to the equation here, it's the two days in a row of just not coming in with little notice.

Show up to the meeting. Don't be defensive. Listen to what your boss has to say. Acknowledge the policy. Say something like, "I am very sorry I'm not meeting your expectations. It's now very clear to me that the PTO culture is very different in this department than the one I came from. I am ready to conform to whatever attendance policy you think is necessary for our department to run smoothly."

It doesn't matter why you took the "unplanned PTO." Your boss isn't happy with your attendance, so why you weren't there isn't as relevant as the fact that you just weren't. You go to the meeting and apologize, briefly mention that you were operating under a different set of expectations, his expectations are now clear, and you won't make that mistake again. Then thank him for explaining that to you, take responsibility, and get back to work.
posted by juniperesque at 12:54 PM on May 30, 2014 [8 favorites]

I'm not sure that your boss is looking to chew you out...
the meeting might be to clarify HOW to ask for days off...that's probably what I would do if I were your boss.

Listen calmly and consider what your boss wants from you GOING FORWARD.
Take notes if you need to--email him/her back afterwards to confirm that you understand procedures.

Make sure you know how and when to REQUEST time off.
Who needs to know? who else needs to know?
posted by calgirl at 4:17 PM on May 30, 2014

My department had pretty strict rules for the first 90 days of employment or what we define as theprobation period. Generally you weren't really expected to take any time off for anything but there was an official 3 days of leave before a talk. After that leave can pretty much be taken at a moments notice. Just clarify the policy, handle it gracefully, and put work first. I would explain that it was a departmental difference and to state you'll do it whatever way in the future.

My job has a rule if you take time unplanned the day before or after the holiday that you do not get paid for the holiday. It could be something as simple as that.
posted by AlexiaSky at 1:46 AM on May 31, 2014

« Older How can social skills be improved? Or can they?   |   Twitter / phone autolinking - what the hell? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.