Manager takes EVERY MONDAY HOLIDAY WEEK off of work.
July 28, 2022 8:59 AM   Subscribe

Every one - Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, and now Columbus Day. Which means I have not been able to plan any summer travel with family, because we are a two person department and I can’t plan on an extended 4 or 5 day weekend to do things with them. Everywhere else I’ve worked, we’ve divvied these up among the Team, so people could plan vacations around them. Is there anything to be done? Can HR help with this? Or should I start with my boss’s boss…?
posted by Silvery Fish to Work & Money (25 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Can you take off the week before, so you come back the day after the holiday? Most US holidays are on Monday, other than Christmas and New Years, so you'd still have a 3 day weekend - you'd just be starting your family trip mid-week leading up to it.
posted by ananci at 9:15 AM on July 28, 2022 [14 favorites]

This is unreasonable! I would start by talking to your manager (unless they are a terror in ways other than this) and very matter-of-factly state that you need some long weekends over the summer, and ask what either the process to divvy them up between you is, or who else can cover when manager AND you are gone. (Even if you know there isn’t anyone, it’s a bit unreasonable to ask two people to COMPLETELY cover a department when one can take so many vacation days). If that doesn’t work, or manager’s “process” is BS, I think either their boss or HR could help, depending on the structure and relationships in your org. But again, present this (nicely) as something you WILL be doing, and you just need their help figuring out how.

Don’t structure your only long weekends around your boss’s unreasonable schedule, that will lead to precedent of you bending to HER vacation schedule!! What if your family can only do Saturday-Wednesday some weeks?
posted by sillysally at 9:22 AM on July 28, 2022 [10 favorites]

This is a classic: have you talked to them about it first? Say what you’re used to and the impact to you and then hear what they say. Maybe they didn’t know you wanted it (self absorbed and clueless sure but not malicious).
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:23 AM on July 28, 2022 [14 favorites]

Also - if you know plans in advance, you can just request the days before she does. But that can lead to a requesting-early-war, so really, talk to her about how it should work.
posted by sillysally at 9:24 AM on July 28, 2022

Have you tried your vacation time?

Is the work you do really so crucial that lives are at stake if you're both out at the same time?

If so, then hey guess what that's your manager's job to figure out. If your manager's "figuring it out" is to deny your holiday time while they continue to take theirs, then that's a perfect time for HR to get involved.

Just work off the assumption that you can take time off whenever the heck you want, do it, and let things shake out from there. It's not your job to time manage your manager or your department!
posted by phunniemee at 9:48 AM on July 28, 2022 [44 favorites]

If you haven't talked to your manager about this, talk to your manager about this. If you have talked to them about this and they're just expecting you to work every holiday week then I don't think going to HR or your bosses boss is going to be a good solution.

I've been the manager of a two-person team, and my solution is ... if we both want July 5-8 off or whatever, we both take it. If the company doesn't feel like that's acceptable to have both of us out then they need to hire more people.

If you're entitled to vacation days, my feeling is you're entitled to vacation with a few caveats. Like, if you're running a radio station, you can't leave it un-staffed and there's only so many extra folks you can have on hand as air talent. If you're the low person on the ladder, you're probably going to be stuck with holidays for a bit - those are the dues.

But if you're working for Acme Corp making widgets then they need enough bodies who are capable of filling each position even when two people take vacation.

(Because I work in Corporate America if I was going to be out for several days and my team member was also going to be out - it meant pre- and post-work to cover, but we were able to take vacation without question.)
posted by jzb at 10:01 AM on July 28, 2022 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the thoughts. To answer some of the questions —

She has to approve my vacation time. So, I can’t early book and expect it to trump her wishes.

She is taking the Thurs- Friday before through the Wednesday after, so I can’t book long weekend on either side of the 3-day weekend. So I can’t plan vacation time with family or friends on the weekends they have off.

I did bring it up and her response was, “this is what most managers do. I can’t be out for an entire week.” Which again doesn’t address the issue of her booking around every holiday weekend.
posted by Silvery Fish at 10:07 AM on July 28, 2022

I can’t plan on an extended 4 or 5 day weekend

This is not true. You absolutely can plan a five day weekend; you would just need to use three vacation days to do so instead of two. Unless you only get two vacation days, there's nothing stopping you from doing that. You just have to be flexible on dates. Don't make this worse than it is.
posted by kevinbelt at 10:11 AM on July 28, 2022 [12 favorites]

"I am planning for a special event around [date of holiday] and I will not be available those dates." See how she responds. TBH, if you can't both be out at the same time, then your organization is not set up for resiliency anyway, so this is a deeper problem than just who is on vacation when. What if you got sick while she was on vacation?
posted by Aleyn at 10:22 AM on July 28, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Sometimes AskMe seems to respond on work questions as if it was just a matter of crafting the perfect script to get what you want without repercussions. But, realistically, in this situation, you're going to have to decide how important long summer weekends are to you. Because if you go to your boss's boss, or HR, and say "hey, I can't take vacations because my boss is taking them," you're basically asking them to take time away from your boss and reallocate it to you. Even if you're being completely reasonable (and I think you are), this is likely to piss off your boss, since it's not merely a matter of their authority but of their vacation plans. So you need to weigh your priorities, and how secure you feel in your job, and how good your relationship is with your grandboss, before proceeding. If you do proceed, I would surely start in a casual way with grandboss (maybe even asking them for the time without mentioning the "potential conflict"). HR is the nuclear option. And, since there's no protected-class discrimination involved, unless there's an actual policy violation...they may not help.
posted by praemunire at 10:26 AM on July 28, 2022 [45 favorites]

Best answer: This manager sucks, tbh, and if it is within your power to engineer yourself a new job you should do that. This is not reasonable or good managerial behavior and her response to you was dismissive. She likely knew exactly what you were asking about/for and ignored that in favor of saying what she said.

If she "can't be out" for a whole week that is also a red flag. I realize Ask will tell everyone to get a new job but . . . I would.
posted by Medieval Maven at 10:41 AM on July 28, 2022 [15 favorites]

This person is a manager of one, you. Why can't they take off an entire week? What happens if you call in sick on a day when manager is out?
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:51 AM on July 28, 2022 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I wonder what would happen if you directly asked her, "would it be alright to start alternating some of these three day weekends so I can plan things with my family/friends that don't have much leave to use?"

Whatever answer you get from asking directly might help you see what other options you realistically have.
posted by crunchy potato at 11:43 AM on July 28, 2022 [19 favorites]

Since they seem to be setting up their vacation days so that they straddles the weekend, could you ask them so that you get one side and they get the other so that you can both take advantage of the holiday Monday? Like you take off Thursday and Friday and they take off Tuesday and Wednesday and that way you both get off five days? Straddling it like that is pretty ridiculous when your staff member has raised they would also like to take advantage of the holiday to have an extended time off of work while minimizing vacation time taken.
posted by urbanlenny at 11:51 AM on July 28, 2022 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone, for their input. Most of the comments so far have been helpful.

kevinbelt, I am not “making it worse than it is,” and I am going to assume that you responded in haste instead of choosing to dismiss the larger context and answer to a common situation in American workplaces.

Yes, we all try to maximize the federal holidays to get extended summer time off without burning through our meager vacation time. In every other place I’ve worked, care was taken to make sure that every person got an equal opportunity to maximize an equal share of the summer federal holidays for this exact purpose.

I also only have 3 weeks of allotted vacation to her 4.5 weeks. So - SHE could be planning her extended weekends around non-holiday weekends, but she is not. The only vacation time she has scheduled has been around the holiday weekends.

Yes, we are understaffed and there is no resiliency in the system, and yeah, particularly after this, I AM looking for new employment. And, she has been in the corporate world as long as I have been, so I am sure she fully understands the benefit and utility of maximizing vacation around federal holidays, as well as why this allows you time to do things with friends and family.

I appreciate the words of caution — yep, there are repercussions to talking to either grandboss or HR about this. Praemunire, your comments in particular were a good check: it’s not an impossible conversation, but it IS one with potential negative impact.

My thought right now — since the summer is mostly over, IF I am still in this job at the beginning of the year, I will start the conversation in January, something along the line of “… starting to plan vacations with friends, out of these 4 summer holidays, which 2 do you have a preference for?” But hopefully, I won’t be here then.
posted by Silvery Fish at 12:02 PM on July 28, 2022 [10 favorites]

It would be fair for one person to take Th-Fr-Sa-Su-Mo, and the other to take Sa-Su-Mo-Tu-We, and if your manager is unwilling to discuss fair use of holidays, your manager's a jerk. In many places I've worked, people are often jerks about fair use of holidays, but try to negotiate from a We can both win perspective. If you can think of a way to say This makes you look bad more gently, do. I'd definitely put in requests and alternate Before the Monday Holiday and After the Monday Holiday, to see if she can take a freaking hint.
posted by theora55 at 12:47 PM on July 28, 2022 [2 favorites]

yep, there are repercussions to talking to either grandboss or HR about this

Just here to say that I am in HR, and an employee coming to us and saying "my manager is not allowing me to use my paid time off, is dismissive of my concerns, and this behavior/action is making me reconsider my employment here" would be an extremely compelling conversation to start. It's the dream that people speak up about poor management before they up and quit so that we can actually DO something about it.

But I do work for a good company with a competent HR and good policies so of course YMMV.
posted by phunniemee at 1:32 PM on July 28, 2022 [12 favorites]

I'm wondering if you shouldn't ask or start a conversation. Rather just send her an email with your vacation plans for the next 12 months, like this:

Hi Boss,
I plan to take the following vacations this year:
12\20 - 12\26
7\1 - 7\7
8\25 - 9\6

Even if you aren't exactly sure of your will be easier to change the exact dates if you already have the ideal dates approved.
posted by halehale at 1:46 PM on July 28, 2022 [2 favorites]

How long have you been at this job? I'm not sure it's right to assume that the way you and coworkers have handled vacation time at previous jobs will be the same at other places. It's also no fun when multiple people want the same vacation time. It's too bad your boss didn't address this up front, but I do think asking her directly, like maybe even this fall about next year, is a good way to handle this.
posted by bluedaisy at 3:43 PM on July 28, 2022 [1 favorite]

I would encourage you not to frame this in terms of your manager being unreasonable in taking time off. They are being reasonable in taking time off, they are maximizing their days, just as you are being reasonable in also trying to maximize your days. The real issue is you being denied that opportunity. What actually happens if both of you are out? What actually fails that can’t wait a day and that can’t be covered down on?
posted by corb at 3:47 PM on July 28, 2022 [5 favorites]

Just beat your boss to the punch. Put in a request for a holiday weekend off before they get their vacation on the schedule. If they deny it and then go on vacation themselves, well, that's pretty messed up and you should probably talk to HR (with the handy paper trail you created) or find a new job (sadly). But maybe they'll approve it.

Personally, I would not talk to your boss about divvying up holiday weekends or creating some kind of plan so that everyone has equal opportunity to take time off. Too easy to ignore or hem and haw about something like this. You just gotta try to take what you want before someone else takes it.
posted by TurnKey at 4:13 PM on July 28, 2022 [3 favorites]

Yes, this may just be one of those things that different offices handle differently. Everywhere I've worked, holiday time off is basically first come first serve, there's no active effort to rotate turns. In workplaces like mine you would just need to start requesting time off earlier. I've heard of other workplaces where it's seniority based, so timing wouldn't matter, your boss will always bump you if she wants and that's just the way it is.

I think your first step is just to schedule a weekend off farther in advance than has already been scheduled and see if that solves the problem, or have an explicit conversation with your boss about how to cover a day you're both out. HR may be the ultimate answer but they're going to want to know what you've tried and those seem like the things to try first.
posted by Stacey at 4:27 PM on July 28, 2022 [5 favorites]

I’m kind of focusing on the thing your boss said about how managers don’t/can’t take a full week off. This seems like she’s doing what she does to game the system in a way. She can’t take 5 days off from weekend to weekend, or maybe not even 5 days in a row, so she’s scheduling her vacations over a Monday holiday to be able to achieve that.

Do you have more flexibility in your schedule? Could you take a full 5 days in a row? If so, you could be getting 9 days away where she can only get 7.

I would talk to her first and explain how you’re feeling. Maybe there’s a compromise to be had where you can have one of those weekends because it’s important to you. Maybe she could do a Wednesday to Tuesday and you work that Tuesday remotely in the middle of your otherwise full week’s vacation. That’d be better than nothing.

And I don’t want to be argumentative but your post makes me think of a quote I’d like to share:

“One of life's best coping mechanisms is to know the difference between an inconvenience and a problem. If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire – then you’ve got a problem. Everything else is an inconvenience. Life is inconvenient. Life is lumpy. A lump in the oatmeal, a lump in the throat and a lump in the breast are not the same kind of lump. One needs to learn the difference.” ― Robert Fulghum

I know this seems very unfair and you’d like to rectify it, going to your boss’s boss or to HR if you have to, but by the metric set out in that quote, you don’t have a problem, you have an inconvenience. You have three weeks of vacation you can take around 48 weekends, not the other 4. I would try to keep that perspective in mind while trying to find an amicable solution with your boss.
posted by cali59 at 6:27 AM on July 29, 2022 [2 favorites]

I once overheard a conversation between a co-worker and a manager. The co-worker needed time off which was not forthcoming. I thought it was ingenious because every single thing she said was put in terms of an offer or a compromise. There were two weeks she needed off, but one she would give up if necessary; the other was more important for reasons she gave. Then in return for getting the week or weeks off, here were some things she could do to help out in other ways. I know she ended up getting at least one of those weeks off and I think just the fact that she came in with a semi-formal proposal impressed on the boss that this really was important to her. (Plus it probably worked as a hint that a complaint might follow if she got nothing, but she spoke as if she expected to be accommodated.) It's annoying that bosses don't just assume something like that matters to you, but they don't, and the ones that game the system the way you describe doing are the ones that are apt to be least mindful.

So you might try playing Let's Make a Deal a little bit, make notes in preparation and take notes afterwards. I hate having to put in unpaid work to get what is simply my due in terms of PTO and stuff like that but I think in this kind of case it is better to structure it ahead of time and show that you want to be cordial but mean business.
posted by BibiRose at 7:08 AM on July 29, 2022 [3 favorites]

I'm not clear what you brought up with her, but I just want to suggest the possibility that she doesn't know this is a problem for you if you haven't at least asked "Hey do you think it's okay if I take that week off too? I'd like to take advantage of the holiday." Another way to ask could be to say you're wanting to take off the week following a 3-day weekend sometime in the next couple months and given the work she foresees (pretending this isn't about her own vacations), which one would be best?
posted by slidell at 3:45 AM on August 4, 2022

« Older Why does a black hole look black?   |   Hunterspoint Ave Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.