Do I Ever Get Time Off???

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about time off:

The issue: My boss works 4 days 10 hours (4/10) and is off on Monday. Whenever I ask for any time off it has become a chore especially if something falls on Monday, which I try to avoid at all costs. When I do submit something, my boss sits on it for weeks and tries to make me feel guilty for taking any time off.

When I get back, I am made to feel as if I did something wrong that I should of been at work.I work all week and do not have a 4/10 schedule. I have two children and a family. There are things that come up such as sickness, doctors, and occasional fun. I have not taken much time. The most was a week last year when I broke my tailbone and was on drugs. Other wise, I make all attempts to make up any time.We have a department that closes at noon every Friday because of regular scheduling. When I do request time, other departments have to see if it works for the other departments. No one else has to go through this. Question: How should I handle this? I would really like to be able to take time when I need to. I have never experienced this before.

Signed, Made Guilty

Dear Made Guilty:

Drop the feeling. Another view of this problem: You are so valued and have a supervisor who recognizes this! Not to say you are not experiencing a challenge but it could be even more problematic if the attitude were “Take as much leave as you wish, this place will get along fine without you.” The rest of this response is based on the fact that you are not taking time off immediately after accruing it. That you have not used it as it accrues, that is another topic. Can’t help much with that.

If you have time accrued leave (sick or vacation), you have the right to take it in according to the company’s employee manual. If there is some question regarding the process, a trip to the HR department and a request for the handbook and related forms will clear this up. In the real world it is not good politics to use Mondays and Fridays for sick leave. Looks suspicious and probably questionable. If you are requesting annual leave and submit it in order to plan for you and the allied departments in a timely fashion, then it is your leave and you should be able to take it. The employee handbook is an extension of your work contract and it trumps the boss. It is good that you are sensitive to the supervisor’s anxiety over office coverage. He/She may be overly concerned and over reaching. That happens in all areas of our lives.

After you have obtained the employee handbook and devoured it—-fully understanding the expectations of the company—then you may want to speak to your boss. The language you used in your letter is a good start. It is direct, describes your feelings, and your boss may be more interested in this issue if he/she is “invited in” to problem-solve with you. You may start by asking to meet with your boss on a personal and company question. In the beginning opening with “It is great to feel needed by you” when I ask for leave. And something on the order of “I want to repay his/her confidence by working hard, being timely, and following all of the companies rules regarding sick leave and annual leave” And continue”there have been times I felt guilty for asking for time off to meet health, family, and personal needs. I hope you can tell me how we together can approach this topic so it is less problematic for you, other departments, the company, and for me.” Then stop and let him/her respond. The quicker you turn over the “chair” to him/her the better off you will be.

As a director of a large agency, I recall how pinched we were when one person, in a key position, took off. I can’t say I never felt just great knowing a major position would be vacant and likely fall on me, doubling up my work. Most bosses have a boss. Most got there because they can handle these issues. Give him/her a chance. After this you will know if you need therapy after asking for and using sick or vacation leave. Pray this comes out, as it should, with both of you feeling much better over the issues.

Jack White, Guest Respondent