Can your employer deny your vacation request?

You’ve been working hard. You feel like you deserve a vacation.

But your boss seems a bit grumpy lately. Maybe they won’t be happy about you taking a whole week off.

And now you are wondering: “Can my employer deny my vacation request?”

Your employer can deny your request for paid time off. Although you accumulate vacation days, the timing of using them is subject to business needs. For example, during high-demand periods or crucial projects, your employer might rightfully decline your leave request.

Or at least, in most cases, they can. So let’s take a closer look at this topic.

Can PTO be legally denied?

Can PTO be denied

Can your PTO be denied? Well, in most cases, yes.

For instance, in California, employers are not obliged by law to provide paid days off work.

Still, most companies are well aware that taking time off work is actually very beneficial for the productivity of staff members so paid leave is often part of the benefits packages that they offer.

However, there are certain regulations that employers must follow when it comes to paid time off.

There should be a company policy regarding paid leave that outlines exactly how the matter is approached.

For example, the employer might retain their right to deny your paid time off if the company is understaffed at the moment. It really comes down to exactly what the company policy says.

But if we take a look at, say, Ontario (Canada), the picture is a little different. There is something called a “Vacation Entitlement Year” and during this period the employee is entitled to a vacation.

It starts from the moment the employee is hired and it resets after 12 months. During this period, the employee has the right to take a vacation but the employer has the right to control when the said vacation will be taken.

In Germany (and generally most of the EU), employers give their full-time workers a minimum of 20 days paid leave.

Nice, right? However, employees are usually required to be strategic about their time off work and have their paid leave scheduled weeks or months in advance.

The bottom line is that it really depends on what local laws and regulations say about paid time off work.

And even if it is mandatory, the employers usually still retain some control over it and can control when exactly the paid leave can be taken.

This means that in most cases they have the right to deny vacation requests.

(A clever trick to use in case you are after a salary raise is to push your boss for more vacation days. It’s likely that they won’t be able to give you more vacation days so they might compensate you with a pay raise.)

How to ask for paid time off

Tips for asking for your paid time off work

We know very well that time off work is very important. Both for employees and the companies that they work for.

Occupational burnout is a real thing and taking time off work from time to time can do wonders, especially if you are a workaholic.

So when you decide you need a vacation from work, here are a few good practices that you should consider. (It might not be a good idea to ask for a vacation in case you are new to a job.)

1. Check your company policy

Of course, see what the paid leave policy says. It should contain information on when you can take time off work and under what conditions.

2. Stay on top of your work

I think that the best time to take a vacation from work is after 2 or 3 months of good meaningful work that advances your goals.

So staying on top of your work a week or two before the vacation is important because it will give you that sense that you are in control of things.

This way you will be able to unwind during your vacation and get right into it once you come back.

3. Talk to your boss and schedule in advance

Talk to your direct superior and ask for your vacation without fear of being fired. Tell your boss that you want to take time off work and ask when that would be possible.

This way you will come off as someone who cares about their role and realizes that their absence might have an effect on work. Let’s hope that your boss is understanding and also sees the value of paid leave.

(If you are on probation, then it would be better to ask for a vacation when it is over.)

4. Notify your coworkers

Make sure to notify your colleagues as well. After all, their work might be affected by your absence.

Make sure to give them specific instructions on what they should do in specific situations while you are away. Here is how you can ask a coworker to cover for you while you are on vacation.

Vacation tips for workaholics

Are you a workaholic who thinks that a couple of days off work will demolish their career/business and send them into financial ruin?

Sure, some people go through periods when they have to work and/or study a lot. This is understandable.

Sometimes our circumstances force us to become workaholics. I hope that this is not the case for you.

If you are a workaholic, who can absolutely afford to be away from work for a week or so, consider this:

1. Consistency is more important than intensity

As the old saying goes, Rome was not built in a day. Achieving a goal is not the result of a single herculean effort. Instead, doing meaningful work over a period of time is what gets us the desired outcome.

2. Hustling all the time is not good

The human body and mind are not able to work at 100% capacity 100% of the time. We are not robots.

If this is what you’ve been doing, you might experience some great results in the short term but you are absolutely sabotaging yourself in the long run (and possibly harming your health).

So as soon as you start to experience the signs of occupational burnout, take the necessary steps to schedule meaningful time off work to recharge.

3. Time off work makes you more productive

Rest and time away from your work actually have a lot of benefits. It will allow you to distance yourself from the problems that you have to tackle on a daily basis.

It will give your brain the chance to sort of subconsciously “mediate” over the things that you already know.

So when you come back to work, you will actually be a lot better at what you do. You will more productive and efficient, and you will be able to achieve even greater results

Key takeaways

Frequently asked questions about denied vacation requests

What if I have a non-refundable vacation booked and my employer denies my request?

It’s essential to communicate with your employer about pre-booked vacations. However, employers aren’t obligated to accommodate non-refundable bookings. Always check company policy before making non-refundable plans.

Can an employer cancel my already approved vacation?

While uncommon, employers can revise approved vacations due to unforeseen business needs. It’s best to clarify such scenarios in the company’s leave policy.

Can I appeal a denied vacation request?

While you can discuss and provide reasons for reconsideration, the final decision typically rests with the employer.

Can I use sick days instead of vacation days if my request is denied?

Misusing sick days can lead to disciplinary action. It’s essential to use leave days for their intended purpose.