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How to Ask for Vacation Time

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If you’re employed right now, chances are you could use a vacation. Half of the U.S. workforce doesn’t take the time off work they’ve earned, and it shows: Nearly 95% of us are stressed out at work and one-fourth are so stressed that we’re headed for complete burnout.

Check the employee handbook. Your company’s policy on vacation time should be clearly laid out already. This includes what type of time off you’ll be accruing (vacation and sick leave, PTO, or maybe even unlimited PTO) and when you can start taking it. Refer to the policy and follow it as close to the book as you can when it comes to when and how to ask. That doesn’t mean you can’t ask for an exception to the rule—but, if you do, acknowledge that you understand what you’re asking is exceptional and that you’d like to explore the options.

Be reasonable. Plan as far in advance as you can (three months or more is ideal for a lengthy vacation). Even if your company doesn’t have a policy on it, it’s best not to ask for vacation time within the first three months of employment. Give yourself time to prove your worth before you take that time off. You should also be careful about your timing when it comes to high-volume business cycles. If you do need to be gone during a less-than-ideal time, acknowledge that and proactively offer reassurances on how you’ll mitigate any inconveniences to your work team while you’re gone (and then follow through on those promises, of course).

But do indulge. Playing the hero by not taking vacation time could hurt your health, your family’s happiness, and even your work culture. If you’re forgoing vacation so you can accrue it for one giant payout if you quit your job, be careful. Again, check the employee handbook on the company’s accrued leave payout policy. There is no Texas or federal law that requires companies to hand over accrued vacation time as a monetary payment, but companies must clearly state whatever policy they have in their employee handbook.

Finally, if you’re a part-time, seasonal, or temporary employee, standard company rules may not apply to you. If you work with a temporary staffing firm or a recruiter, talk to them about your options. Temp workers deserve time off, too, and there are ways to earn and take that vacation time without sabotaging future employment.


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