Work is hard, and we all need a break sometimes. Whether you are hoping to plan an exciting vacation across the country, or even across the world, or you are just hoping for some downtime, you should consider whether or it is a good time to request time off. Even if you are facing a pressing issue at home, if your boss, or the situation, suggests that this would be a bad time to take off work, then you might need to rethink your plans.
Try to time your vacation or time off during a slower part of the year, and if possible, ask for the time off far in advance. You shouldn’t have to skip your vacation completely; if your job is that busy, it might be time to look for a new one. Still, there are certain situations in which you should avoid taking any time off.
1. If you just started your job
You should do your best to avoid asking for time off for the first three months of any new job, and if possible, wait longer. Many companies have a probationary period for their new employees (usually six months to a year), in which new employees must basically prove that they can do the job and that they are worth keeping on. Some companies have actual rules about how long you must wait to take vacation; many companies require at least three months. Even if you are allowed to take vacation after three months, if you can avoid it during your probationary period, you should do so in order to show your commitment to the job. If you are a temporary employee, you may not be able to get any time off, and it’s probably best to avoid asking.
If you have a trip planned, or require time off, and you know this fact before you start a new job, talk to your employer about it ahead of time; don’t wait until you are already working at the company. Most employers will understand if you had something planned ahead of time.
2. If you are on shaky ground already
If you have recently had a poor performance review, been cautioned that your behavior or performance is not up to par, or have any other reason to believe that you might be fired, you should avoid taking time off if you want to keep your job. Especially if you have been underperforming, taking time off would be a poor decision and send the wrong message.
If your company has announced that there will be layoffs, you should also do your best not to schedule any time off. You will not want to miss out on any work-related announcements, and you should use the time to do your best to show why you are important to the company. Even if your job is secure, but other employees are being laid off, you should be there to help pick up any temporary slack caused by employees who are being let go.
3. If your company is having a busy season
If you want to take a trip to the Caribbean, and the flights happen to be the cheapest during the busiest time of the year at your company, you would be making a huge mistake by going anyway. Most companies have busy and slow seasons, and it’s always best to schedule your vacations or time off when work is slow, or at least, not extremely busy.
You should also try your best not to schedule any time off during important projects (if you can anticipate this), or when important clients are coming to the office or requesting a meeting that you should be present for. Taking time off during a busy time at work makes you appear careless and irresponsible, and also shows that a vacation or time off is more important to you than your job.
4. If you just had time off
Many employees take time off during the holidays, and some businesses even close during the holiday, giving employees free vacation days in addition to federal vacation days. Because your company might already be giving you time off paid, you should try to avoid taking time off anytime near your scheduled time off. If you take a week off at Thanksgiving, then you request time off a month later, you will risk look irresponsible again.
Taking a big chunk of time off can also interrupt major projects, and leave you trying desperately to catch up when you return to work, so taking time off again soon after you return can leave you drowning in work. If you must ask for time off during the holidays, make sure you ask in advance, and don’t book any trips until your time off is approved.
5. If your boss asks you to stay
As enticing as a vacation is, most people would agree that keeping a job and a paycheck is more important. If your boss asks you not to take time off, you probably want to listen, no matter what the reason. If your vacation was approved previously, and your boss revokes his or her permission, you may be dealing with a big problem (especially if you already paid ahead for part of your vacation or plane tickets.) You can try to talk to your boss about the problem, but you may have to decide whether or not your trip is worth angering your boss. Legally, there is no federal or legal law that requires that you be given vacation time, although most employers do include vacation time when offering a job; your boss is also legally able to revoke your vacation time.
Although the five situations listed above indicate times when you should avoid taking time off if possible, you won’t always be able to avoid taking time off. Sometimes emergencies will come up; most bosses will be more understanding about an emergency or an illness than they will be about taking time off for a vacation, but unfortunately, some bosses won’t make that distinction.