How to Deal

Be Encouraged by Boss's Attempts to Grant Vacation Request

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By Lily Garcia
Special to washingtonpost.com
Thursday, April 3, 2008; 12:00 AM

My manager (whom I think has major communication problems and lacks managerial skills) asked me and her other direct report to send in our anticipated vacation for 2008 in January.

I responded the very same day, saying I was planning on taking 10 days off in September/October but that I didn't know exact dates yet. She responded almost three weeks later saying, "OK, just let me know when you find out your dates." Well, I emailed her two weeks ago, giving her the exact dates I'm going to be out, and she seems to have a problem with it. She sent me another email saying that she isn't sure about those dates because another employee has asked for three of the same days off, and that she needs to check with the director because it is quarter end. The other employee has a completely different job function. So I emailed her back and copied her boss, saying that my vacation is dependant on my husband who is active duty military, and those are the only dates he could get permission to take off.

In the same email, I attached the monthly close calendar showing that the dates I had planned to be off did not have any major impact on my tasks or close activities. I also noted that if there is something I need to complete, I could do it beforehand as there no other close activities going on at that time. My manager responded by saying that she could only approve half of the dates requested as of now but will let me know later.

Well, it's been a week and I haven't heard anything back, what should I do? This is just really frustrating me because that is the only major vacation I have planned this year and mind you, we get three weeks off in our organization. Please help!

Based upon what you are saying, your supervisor's response does seem a bit rigid. It is not out of the ordinary for work teams -- especially small ones -- to avoid having two employees out on vacation at the same time. If your job functions are different, however, and your vacation would overlap for only three days, then it seems illogical not to grant your request. Quarter end might be an especially busy time for your department. Regardless, unless you and the other vacationer are the only employees on the team, they could surely manage for three days without the two of you.

Unfortunately, what I think ultimately does not matter. Your supervisor, like so many, probably enjoys relatively unchecked discretion regarding the administration of her team's vacation time. Be encouraged by the fact that your supervisor has reached out to the director. This probably means that, although she has been instructed that maintaining a certain level of staffing as the end of the quarter approaches is critical, she appreciates your perspective. The final decision in your case probably rests with the director.

Try following up with your boss and the director by email. Forward your previous message and include a note briefly summarizing your situation. Tell them that you are anxious to know what they have decided because you and your husband are making big plans for his leave from active duty. If they have a heart, your request will be granted shortly.

Join Lily Garcia on Tuesday, April 15 at 11 a.m. ET for How to Deal Live.

Lily Garcia has offered employment law and human resources advice to companies of all sizes for 10 years. To submit a question, e-mail hradvice@washingtonpost.com. We reserve the right to edit submitted questions for length and clarity and cannot guarantee that all questions will be answered. The information contained in this column is not intended to be legal advice.


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