my boss approved a long vacation for me — but we can’t agree on the dates

A reader writes:

I need a reality check from someone unbiased.

I have been at my company for four years and have advanced every year to the role I am in now. I recently got engaged and my partner is a UK citizen. We decided to take an extended vacation this summer and visit her family and friends in Europe (May 17-July 17). When we planned this trip six months ago, I decided that I would ask for personal leave (unpaid time) and I would have to be mentally prepared for them to say no, and for me to walk away from my job at that point. Financially, I can be unemployed for a significant period of time, so it’s not that I am in a desperate position. Rather, I would like to handle things right, and do the most professional thing.

I have been on a data project for one year. My manager decided I would be the point person to develop new skills in order to support this project. They invested in me and I have really benefited from these skills making me a more specialized, technical employee. We originally thought this project would roll out much sooner, but it was pushed and pushed as things are, and therefore our final roll-out dates are spread over three regional teams, with the last on April 30. The success of this project is important to me, and I understand that this timing is not ideal.

When I first mentioned the desire for extended personal leave over a month ago, my manager was extremely understanding about prioritizing family, etc. I mentioned the dates, and she asked whether or not I would support post-roll-out remotely for one week after I leave on May 17, then take the other weeks unpaid. I said absolutely. Our next conversation about a week or later, after she conferred with HR and other managers, she said that they will grant the unpaid eight weeks, but only starting on June 1, and that I have to stay in the office until the end of May (two weeks after my scheduled departure) in order “to help ensure that the project is rolled out successfully and that end-users have the necessary support during the transition period to the new tool.”

Here’s the thing that is bothering me. I am more than happy to work full-time the last two weeks and support the project, but I want to work remotely. I have supported our end users for the past four years, they are remote field employees in all different time zones, and I work from home several times a month and it’s never a problem supporting them. I understand there is a hurdle of me being in a different country, but if I am willing to work full-time maintaining our normal hours, I am not sure why this makes a difference.

When I offered to work remotely for the two weeks, my manager held firm that they are already being very generous with accommodating my leave, and that she is holding firm on the dates. I feel like she is throwing a power move. But maybe I should just be happy and take it? She has been known to make other employees change their vacation dates based on things happening in the office. I understand that this is a huge ask and I should be grateful that they said yes, but I also am more than happy to support the project through the end of May like they have indicated is the most critical aspect.

I wrote back to this letter-writer and asked whether her boss had previously given a firm “yes” to these dates and then changed her mind, since that wasn’t clear to me from the letter. The answer:

No, she said she had to talk to HR. She definitely did not give me the green light at that point. We were still in talking stages.

Okay! So it’s true that two months off is a big request. But if she had already said yes to it, and you’d made plans based on her agreement, it wouldn’t be cool for her to now rescind that acceptance.

But she hadn’t already agreed, and after she thought it through she said she could okay it but only with slightly different dates. It’s pretty reasonable for her to do that.

You’re wondering why it’s such a big deal for you to do the work remotely, and I don’t know — but you should ask her about that. There might be legitimate reasons for that, like that things are going to be moving so quickly during that time that they really need you in the office where they can easily talk to you in real-time, pull you into last-minute meetings, etc. They might also worry about how reliably accessible you’ll be when you’re dependent on hotel internet in a foreign country, may be jet-lagged, etc.

And really, if this is a major project that you’ve played a key role in and this is the roll-out, it’s not crazy that she’d just want you there for it, even if she can’t point to really specific reasons why. It’s hard to predict how things might go, and she has an obligation to do everything she can to ensure it’s successful … and if something goes wrong, she’d probably have a hard time defending to her own higher-ups why she okayed having the project’s point person out of the country during the roll-out.

It’s also worth noting that you planned the trip six months ago (so October) but only raised it with your boss a month ago (March), just two months before you hoped to leave. She may be thinking it’s pretty short notice for that long of an absence — and she may also be thinking that you haven’t firmed up your plans yet since you’re just raising it now.

In any case, can you adjust your dates now? If you’re able to push things back by two weeks, that seems like it would be the simplest solution.

Ultimately, you might have to decide whether you’re more willing to do that or more willing to leave the job over this. But if part of your thinking in deciding that is “I don’t want to change my plans just because my boss is being unreasonable” — in other words, if it’s sort of the principle of it — I’d argue that she’s not necessarily off-base in what she’s asking from you.

{ 333 comments… read them below }

  1. Gollum

    I think you should have asked for the leave before planning the trip. And I would follow up witht he boss to see why they feel you cant work remotely for the overlapping two weeks. Is this a hill you want to die on? Cause I think if you quit over it, you’re going to burn a serious bridge. If at all possible, chaneg your plans for those two weeks…

    1. Curious Cat

      I agree, quitting over moving a trip 2 weeks may not be worth it, especially since it sounds like OP is in a specialized field and may need to stay on good terms with their manager. I know obviously shifting an entire vacation can be a hassle & some money may be lost, but it’s worth asking if it will all be worth it in the long run.

      1. Say What, now?

        Yes, being specialized gives you expert status and value but it also means that you risk being a niche employee with fewer options for other employment. Be really careful about walking away from this job especially with a manager willing to let you take two months unpaid on short notice.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian

          My thoughts exactly. OP is working at a place where his manager is willing to let him take two months leave on short notice; all things else being equal, this job sounds like a keeper to me.

    2. Luna

      Yes I think this is the best course of action. OP might not be financially dependent on this job, but will she need a reference in the future? Because if she quits over this, on this short notice right before a major project rollout, there is a reasonable chance that her manager won’t be willing to provide a positive reference in the future.

    3. Cafe au Lait

      I disagree. I often plan trips before asking for time off. It doesn’t make sense for me to ask work for time off only for my personal plans for fall through. I like to get those snugged up (around 70%) before putting in time off requests.

      1. Curious Cat

        I think this being a 2 month time off is different from normal vacation planning, tho.

        1. Jules the Third

          +1 . 2 mo out of office = you need more planning.

          When I wanted to work remotely for 2mo in France last summer (I’m based in the US), I first discussed it with my boss a year in advance, just to get the ‘can I work remotely’ approved before I started trying to figure out the trip logistics. I worked from home at the time, but I still valued my job enough to want to balance the job and social requirements.

          This paid off when my employer asked all wfh employees to change back to the office in Feb before the trip. I already had the ok in hand for the summer, and my boss confirmed that would still hold, because I had made plans and reservations based on his approval.

          It is totally reasonable for your boss to request the two week change – my boss and I discussed / tweaked the timing right up until the week I bought plane tickets. A little flexibility on your part now will pay off big time, or at least avoid the career hit that ‘I’m quitting because they wanted me to stay an extra two weeks to support a major project’ will be.

          OP, you are clearly putting your social plans ahead of your career. That is your choice, but there are consequences to that, and your boss is not out of line to expect you to put them on more equal basis, especially with the investment they’ve made in you and the very short notice you’ve given on the leave.

          Just for comparison: our trip was a once in a lifetime chance to spend the summer with my husband and our best friends, including their child who is the same age as Young Jules, and I was pretty invested in going. Not quite ‘quit my job and go’ because of financials, but I’d have been job hunting, and looking for something that would let me work remotely the next summer. So I feel ya, OP… I just think 2 weeks of flexibility isn’t a crazy ask from your boss.

          1. Jerry Vandesic

            Jules, how did your employer handle taxes? Since you were working in France, were you paying French taxes? Withholding? Did you have a work permit?

            1. Traveler

              I’m not Jules, but I have done something almost identical (but in a different European city). I received my normal paycheck into my US bank account – nothing changed financially. I was in Europe on a tourist visa since I wasn’t doing work for an entity related to France in any way. ie: it was considered a vacation that I happened to be working during for my original employer.

              According to the immigration lawyer I spoke with, it’s a grey area – but, that it made the most sense to simply enter the country as a tourist (90 days for Americans in the EU), and maintain my normal tax/working situation for the duration since I wasn’t immigrating to the country.

              1. AcademiaNut

                Some countries are stricter than others, and the UK is one of the strict ones – the probability of getting caught might be low, but if you do, the consequences could be unpleasant. Being barred from your partner’s country, for example, is a major pain in the neck, and I know people this has happened to as a result of messing with visa stuff.

                1. sstabeler

                  They’re strict because there’s a problem with people coming in on a tourist visa, getting a UK-based job, then overstaying their visa. In Traveler’s case, he happened to be performing his US–based job while on holiday.

                  or to put it a different way, there’s no such thing as a “business trip” visa- that a tourist happens to be performing work for their usual employer is irrelevant. They care more about if you’ll leave before your visa’s up.

              2. Jules the Third

                France is one of the ‘up to 90 days, we don’t care’ countries, as long as you are not working for a French company. My company is international, and large enough that they have people whose job includes staying up on visa / tax requirements. Their advice was exactly as Traveler said, to go on a tourist visa, because the work I was doing had nothing to do with France.

                Even if UK is strict, I’d be really surprised to hear that the limit was 2 weeks. If it was, OP could probably work something out, like a weekend trip to France where they stay over a weekday or a vacation day, to keep it under the UK limit.

            2. laylaaaaah

              Depending on your work situation, it’s usually easier (especially for a short stay) to continue to pay taxes in your country of origin, if that’s the country where your job is technically based. Anything more than three months, I’d go with the country you’re physically in.

              1. Jules the Third

                It varies by country – France was 90 days, but it sounds like UK is less, so it’s worthwhile to find out.

        2. Lou

          Yep. Both my current job and previous one would have asked for far more notice for two month’s leave.

          1. Flash Bristow

            Yup. Here in the UK, if your boss requires you to take certain dates off, they have to give you twice as much notice. So to make you take 2 days, they give you 4 days notice. Etc.

            I think it’s fair to afford them the same notice, even if you’re just at the “looking to go but haven’t fleshed the details out yet” stage. If your boss wanted you to take 2 months off, they’d have to give you 4 months notice. While the reverse isn’t written in stone, your work do have projects to schedule. Since you didn’t give them much notice – relatively speaking – I think you ought to be flexible.

        3. Jen S. 2.0

          Agreed. It’s one thing to plan a long weekend out of town without prior approval, but another thing entirely to plan a 2-month trip before the okay. One month’s notice is not a lot of warning for a 2-month trip abroad, especially because traveling abroad could come with unforeseen issues. Stranger things have happened than illness and/or unexpected travel delays and/or spotty wifi.

          I work at home most of the time, and I have never had a boss decline a day off or ask me to adjust my leave. I took a month-long trip abroad a couple of years ago. I gave my boss a heads-up over a year in advance that it was coming. I hadn’t nailed down exact dates (I told her “October-ish of next year”), but she wasn’t surprised when I did.

          This actually reminds me — I usually take a 3-week trip each August, when we are usually very slow and everyone else is traveling as well. I have a new boss. I should alert him now, 4 months in advance.

      2. Bea

        Usually we take off a week or two at a time, those requests are given two to four weeks in advance. However this is two months and that’s a significant increase and different request than basic vacation! That’s what makes this a horse of a different color.

        It also depends on if a boss regularly says no to requests and in this case they’re known to change dates on folks, so this isn’t a shock.

        1. Lily in NYC

          Yeah, this is more like a sabbatical than a vacation and should have been handled differently from the start.

      3. swan.feather

        How do you plan a trip if you don’t know if you can actually have those days off? What if someone else is approved and you can’t go? I’ve had to delay my vacation due a coworker having gotten approved for the same dates. OP isn’t asking for a week or two but two months of time off, part of which covers a major rollout.

        1. Someone else

          It sounds like OP was prepared to quit if the answer were no in the first place, so that’s why the trip was planned before confirming. It probably felt like a more straightforward choice at the time, but now that it was a sort-of-yes, wait, yes-but-only-if-you-shift-dates it feels like a more difficult decision than the initial thought the process allowed for. I think there’s really two different sets of questions going on here:
          1) is the boss being reasonable or not? (sounds like probably yes)
          2) if the choice about the trip were binary: yes you can go exactly when planned or no you can’t (sounds like a “no” because “yes but on these different dates” is still “not not exactly as planned”)

          So if the choice the OP set up for themselves from the start was “I will quit if it’s not a yes to exactly what I requested”, well, the boat you’re in now is equivalent to getting a no.

          I don’t know if that’ll burn bridges they’ll want to not have burned later, but it does sound like it was essentially the plan all along.

          1. Jen S. 2.0

            Right. It was easier to be black-and-white about it when the answer was a hypothetical yes or no. Now, the actual answer was neither the yes nor the no of the hypothetical, AND leaving a job over a vacation — even if you can afford it — seems awfully extreme now that you’re faced with actually doing it.

          2. Jill

            So if she’s willing to quit if she doesn’t get what she wants, why is she now getting bent out of shape about not being able to work remotely? Just turn in her resignation effective May 15 or whenever and stop arguing about working remotely.

      4. Valprehension

        I think it depends on what you mean by planning a trip. If you’re thinking about going on a trip, whatever. But if you’re at the point of booking flights and hotels, you’re past the point at which you should be checking in with your employer about whether you can actually have those dates off. It costs money to change those dates later, after all, so why not confirm before putting down deposits?

        Heck, I gave my manager almost a full year’s when I decided I was going to want two weeks off after my wedding (since the date was set, there was no point putting off checking in, and it meant I was more likely to get the time, since my request would definitely beat out anyone else’s).

        Asking earlier benefits everyone involved. It improves your chances of approval, allows you more flexibility in case you’re *not* approved, and allows your managers time to prepare to deal with your absence. literally why wouldn’t you ask as soon as you have reasonably solid dates in mind?

        1. Where's the Le-Toose?

          Totally agree!

          When my wife and I had to fly to Europe for her brother’s wedding, we wanted to build a vacation around it. The wedding was set for August and we’d be gone for just two weeks. When we got the confirm the date in January, I immediately went to my boss to get the time off and then purchased my tickets.

          Had I waited until July, my boss could have said no, especially because the time we were gone is a popular time for vacation requests here in our office. But it all worked out doing everything early.

          A last minute request for 2 months off is short notice and too short for a lot of bosses.

        2. Breda

          I cannot imagine buying plane tickets or making anyone else commit to my plans before I knew I had those days off. It’s SO much easier to change plans with my boss than it is with an airline.

        3. Jen S. 2.0

          Also, if you can afford to quit your job, you can afford to pay to change the dates of your trip (assuming all other things are equal, and changing the dates of your trip doesn’t mean, like, missing a wedding or other major event).

        4. Susan Sto Helit

          My last holiday, we’d been vaguely planning for particular dates but didn’t have anything set in stone (apart from it needed to be at a particular time of year for the optimum weather conditions). Then in a work meeting it came up that they were considering taking on a new big project that would involve me, and which would clash with my trip plans.

          I got back to my desk, immediately contacted my travel companion to inform them, nailed down the dates we were going to need and then we both booked our leave immediately. We still did the project, despite me taking a 2 1/2 week break in the middle, and it went fine. But I needed to get that leave request in both so that there was no risk of it later getting rejected once we knew for certain that there would be a project on, and so that my company could make decisions with the knowledge that I would be unavailable for certain dates and plan for it in advance.

          Everyone was happy. I’m lucky my company is reasonable though.

        5. Rebecca in Dallas

          This! Before I book any vacation, I always check our time off calendar just to make sure it’s not a blackout date or already has the maximum number of time off requests. I’m not sure how long ago this letter was written, but two months seems like the type if request that should be discussed several months in advance.

      5. TootsNYC

        well, yes, 70%, but do you buy tickets? I never buy tickets until I have the OK from my boss. I pick dates, check out possible flight times, confer w/ family members.

        But I don’t commit to spending money until I have the OK for the time off.

        For the first two-week vacation I’d taken since my honeymoon, I raised the CONCEPT of that long a time away before I even started looking at dates!

      6. Clewgarnet

        For a week or so off, I’d check who else had booked time off that week, check what deadlines I had due, and if that was all okay, I’d do the same as you – but I’d definitely get the leave approved before paying anything non-refundable.

        However, this is two months. I think it’s sensible to get the dates for something like that firmly nailed down in writing before going ahead with it.

        Eg, I’m going on a six-week trip in a month or so. I applied for and was granted a bursary for it, but made sure the leave was fully approved by my boss and grandboss before actually booking my berth.

      7. Forrest

        Why can’t you just say “my plans fell through and I don’t need to take that time off”?

    4. Anonymousaurus Rex

      Eh, I think one of the key points here is that she assumed that she might not get to take the time off and she could have to quit her job over the 2 month leave. I don’t want to tell my employer that I want to take 2 months off –and if they say no I will quit– 6 months in advance. If I thought that they would say no, I would probably do what the OP did and not say anything until 2 months or so before the trip.

      1. Valprehension

        But, if they said no, she could have just said nothing about quitting, and then given them two months notice that she was going to quit when the time came. She would have had a *much* better chance of not having to quit in the first place, if she’d just given them appropriate notice, though! This whole thing is so weird to me.

        1. Coywolf

          But if she waited until 2 weeks before vacation time to give her 2 week notice she would be stuck quitting during the most crucial time of the roll out.

          1. Valprehension

            She’s stuck quitting at that time regardless of when she made the ask, though? My point is that chances of getting a “yes” would have been much higher six months ago, and this problem could have been avoided completely (or, worst case scenario, her employers could have had more time to make sure someone else was up to speed to cover when she leaves).

        2. Jen S. 2.0

          What Valprehension said. Asking earlier increased the chances that she would get everything she wanted! Asking later increased the chances that she would, well, be writing to an advice column for opinions.

          If she ended up quitting over the trip, she”d be right where she is now, roll-out and all.

    5. Cookie

      If people waited for approval before planing vacations, no one would ever take a vacation. At my former job, they wouldn’t even let you make a request until 60 days in advance of the proposed vacation (to avoid everyone asking for holidays off at the beginning of the year). In my current job, things are always in flux, so although they may approve a vacation in advance, it doesn’t mean anything because they will call you back if things get busy or a coworker is out sick,

      Make your plans and live your life. Jobs come and go, but family and friends are what matters most. Especially this letter writer who doesn’t need this job. Go on and enjoy yourself!

      1. Dave

        Both of those working situations sounded terrible! It may come down to what employees are willing to put up with or corporate culture, but neither of them has been my experience. I work in IT for a large bank, and we’re encouraged to schedule our vacations out as early as possible. That way they can be planned around by everyone else. We’ve delayed or expedited project rollouts in order to accommodate this in the past.

        I don’t think I, or any of my coworkers with families, could survive in an environment which restricted time off so much.

    6. Working4ALivin'

      I’m puzzled as to why the letter writer didn’t ask about the time off six months ago? The date change request may have still happened but seems like that was the time to lock down two months of leave. Maybe I’m missing something.

  2. Wendy Ann

    Working from home a couple of times a month is completely different to being on holidays in a different country. Can you honestly say that you would put in a full day’s work for those two weeks?

    1. Anna

      My brother did. He lived in England for six months with his fiancee and worked from home. He was fortunate that due to the clients his company worked with, having someone in a different time zone was helpful, but it’s not outrageous to think someone could actually do all the hours they’re required to do from home in a different country. The real question is whether or not it’s feasible for this project and this company.

      1. Candi

        I think the point Wendy Ann was making was about trying to do this work while traveling in a foreign country, which is very different from living somewhere for 6 months. Working while traveling is much, much harder.

        1. Seriously?

          Not only traveling but visiting family and friends. The OP would be doing vacation things during the day and working at night. It isn’t unreasonable for the boss to be concerned that it is not a recipe for getting the best quality work.

      2. Samata

        I also think it’s a valid question in this instance. Your brother moved to England and this was his full-time job. The OP created her travel plans to be an unpaid holiday to her fiance’s home country, which I think is something different. I think it can be done, and OP may be able to put in the time while out. I am just saying I can see how the question would come up.

      3. LouiseM

        I know people who’ve done this too. It’s very much a know-your-company thing. In one case it was a coworker who had a personal emergency and had to move back home temporarily (to the Middle East, from eastern/central US). The time difference was a challenge but she made it work thanks to our very flexible company culture.

        1. Anna

          Exactly. It’s not that traveling is the big deal; it’s that it might or might not work for this company in this case.

      4. Falling Diphthong

        I think it’s the holiday rather than foreign country aspect. Ideally if you have to work it’s a couple of days at the start, or putting in a week after you’ve had a good round of meeting everyone. My husband and I can both work remotely–and do bring work on trips if that’s unavoidable–but it’s for a few hours snatched here and there. A trip doesn’t make much sense where one of you just lives in the hotel room and is technically at this physical location, but mentally elsewhere, as the partner keeps having to explain to the people who can’t meet you because you’re too busy with work.

        It’s different if you planned the trip this way, e.g. “You have a suite in Lisbon for 3 weeks for work? Cool, I’ll come sightsee on my own and maybe we can do some things on the weekend.” This type of trip is much easier if seeing family and friends and other things that aren’t your laptop screen are not part of the trip.

    2. Curious Cat

      Right, and with time zone changes, that could be very different working hours that may not coincide with the roll-out of the project. It may make more sense to keep everyone in the same time zone so everyone can tackle any issues that arise at the same time.

      1. One of the Sarahs

        This is especially a problem going from the Americas to Europe, because even the east coast working USA day runs from lunchtime to the evening over this side. It makes life harder to run alongside a holiday with someone else/family/friends, because it only gives short windows of free time that would coincide with opportunities to sightsee, or (for example) hang out with friends in the evening who are working their own day jobs.

        Sucks, but it’s a lot easier to manage from east to west, as one can get up early and have plenty of time to hang out/take advantage of the place one is in.

    3. Anonymousaurus Rex

      Yeah, I worked remotely from across the country for the week between xmas and new years last year. It was fine and I’d do it again, but being stuck in a hotel room all day (for weird hours no less) while your family and partner are out gallivanting around wasn’t particularly fun–much harder than my usual WFH situation.

    4. Jules the Third

      It’s doable, and not actually that hard. You won’t be with friends all day every day – *they* don’t have time for it. Two hours in the morning to support Asia, lunch with friends, 4 hrs after lunch for EMEA and US East coast, 1 – 2 hrs after dinner for US. Send the fiance’ out for afternoons, and you skip some of their ‘catching up with friends by talking about people you don’t know’ time – win win, by me.

      1. Antilles

        I think it really, really depends on the job description and exactly what’s involved. There are a lot of jobs where working in limited two hour chunks over a 16 hour period is completely impractical.

        1. Jules the Third

          Totally agreed, but for what OP is describing, a worldwide project rollout where OP’s role will be ‘supporting’ global sites, I think you could make it work. It really helps to tell the teams you’re supporting when they can best reach you.

          Also, I’m just trying to describe how an 8hr work day with two food breaks would fit in with both the worldwide project rollout and local social time, not a suggested schedule. Frankly, Europe is *better*, schedule-wise, for supporting WW rollouts, unless the majority of your customers / problems are in California.

    5. Fiennes

      I’ve done this on several occasions, but it requires significant willpower to commit to a solid 5-6 hours a day (or, more often, a night) when there’s so much to do and see, and/or so tired from having done and seen. It’s not impossible, and on occasion I’ve even found the experience focuses me to do excellent work. BUT there’s not one of these times I wouldn’t rather have just been on vacation. OP, if you can move the trip, do it—you’ll have more fun.

      1. Fiennes

        Also: I realize change fees for vacations can be steep, but if OP can afford to quit the job entirely, it seems like those fees are affordable for them.

        1. Jules the Third

          +1 to the fees…

          You are right about the difficulty. If OP is able to work the 2 weeks remotely, I strongly recommend they don’t do and see anything on the work days, except maybe being social for lunch / dinner.

    6. alana

      Yes. I manage several people who are either full-time remote or in a different office from me, and others who work from home regularly — I have nothing against remote work! But I have a policy on my team that you can’t take a remote day as part of your vacation. I’ve found that even if people are accustomed to working from home, juggling time zones, uncertain wifi/seating situations, and all the other distractions of travel is frustrating for everyone. I’d rather just know you were gone than trying to reach you while you’re changing coffee shops/in conversation with Mom and Dad/calling Delta to complain about your flight delay. (We have unlimited vacation, so nobody needs to conserve PTO; they’re just trying to cushion the blow of being out, but honestly it’s easier to just plan ahead for an absence. I wouldn’t have this policy if that weren’t the case.)

    7. essEss

      If you plan to work remotely from a foreign country, you might also need to check with legal rules. Some countries have very strict rules about working while on a tourist stay. Also Europe has some very strict data laws so if you are doing work for your company while in Europe you might also be crossing into some legal issues there depending on what data you are carrying on your laptop and passing back and forth electronically. IANAL so you would need to check with a real lawyer to make sure you weren’t setting your company up for some serious liabilities.

  3. Wannabe Disney Princess

    I’d try asking her about why you can’t work remotely. But if/when she holds firm that you can’t, I’d move the travel dates. They aren’t cutting into your time – just shifting it.

    And with a project being rolled out and relatively short notice for such a long leave, I would be very grateful they’re granting it. To me, this isn’t a bridge worth burning.

  4. Detective Amy Santiago

    It sounds from your letter like you only asked for the days off in March and you were planning to leave in May. That is not sufficient lead time for a vacation in most companies and especially not a two month absence. In general, you shouldn’t purchase flights/hotels/etc until you have confirmed that you can have the days off.

    1. Jubilance

      IDK about “most companies” – I’ve worked at 4 large companies, and even in roles where I was the only person able to fully handle my job, and I’ve never been required to give information about my vacation 2 months in advance. I myself planned a trip to Greece last fall for this May, and I didn’t put it on everyone’s calendar until late March – sometimes things change and I didn’t want it on the calendar too easy. There’s no such thing as “approval” for vacation where I work, so there’s that as well.

      1. Antilles

        The fact there’s no approval for vacation where you work is far and away the exception. The vast majority of companies I’ve ever worked at or heard of usually require approval unless it’s just a day or two. The ‘approval’ often is closer to “fill out a form so your boss can plan and make sure the entire team isn’t all gone at once”, not an actual ‘approval’, but it’s extremely common.

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

          Just chiming in to say that I’ve never had to get “approval” for vacation, either. (Although I certainly would for something this extensive.)

        2. Ego Chamber

          I’ve had the opposite far too many times to think it’s a fluke or just one really shitty company policy, where there’s an “approval process” but the approval isn’t considered final—ever—and can be revoked at any time.

          It works out about as well as you’d imagine, which is to say… not well.

        3. Turquoisecow

          I wouldn’t really necessarily call it “approval”, as I’ve never been “denied”, but it would be courteous to your boss and coworkers to let people know about significant vacations in advance, and that was always expected at jobs I’ve worked at. Especially if your being out requires others to pick up the slack!

          A day or two is no big deal, but a week or more would definitely require my coworkers to step up, and might prevent them from taking time, depending on what else is going on in the company at that time. For a two month vacation? Definitely a heads up as far ahead as possible. Considering that OP is working on a project of some importance, and is highly involved in said project, I would definitely expect a good amount of warning time, especially since it’s unpaid time. If OP has limited vacation, boss would not even be expecting such a long period of time off.

          1. Anna

            Agreed. It’s a significant chunk of time and it will have a major impact on your coworkers and boss. It’s being a considerate coworker to give as much notice as possible.

      2. Clarice Fitzpatrick

        I definitely think it depends on the length of vacation. At my old job, two weeks in advance minimum for any asked for days off but PTO that was more than a few days (like around a week) would mean at least the supervisors knew at least a month in advance. Then everyone else generally knew when someone would be gone for that long about a few weeks before (barring emergencies).

        (My current job is a part-time student job with no PTO so while the two weeks notice is normal, it’s a little looser with procedures for time off.)

        1. AvonLady Barksdale

          Agreed. This is where I think the issue becomes murky. Eight weeks is a very long time to be away from the office, especially by US standards (the only ones I know, for what it’s worth). In my current position and at my level, I didn’t think twice about planning a week-plus-long vacation, but I informed by boss about it three months in advance (I’m looking really forward to it, what can I say). For a day or two? I probably put it in my calendar as far in advance as possible and actually inform people a week or two before the day. But for someone to be away for eight weeks usually requires medium- to long-term planning.

          1. Lou

            I’m in the UK and as far as I know, it’s very rare for anyone to get that level of leave planned (even if unpaid). In the two companies I’ve worked for recently, we’ve also been required to give a fair amount of notice, even for regular holidays.

      3. Anonymeece

        It also depends on the company’s busy schedule. Summer is slow in academia, so if I approached my boss a month or even two weeks in advance of a long vacation, it probably wouldn’t be an issue. If I planned to take a long vacation during finals week, it definitely would require more lead time.

        In this case, the roll-out is clearly affecting how much lead time would have been needed.

      4. essEss

        The 2 common ‘standard’ advance notice policiess that I’ve seen at various companies for PTO requests are:
        – 1 week’s notice for each day requested
        or
        – advanced notice = 2*the amount of time requested

    2. paul

      Would that be abnormal? We only require 2 weeks but we’d also never approve a month+ off without FMLA being involved.

      1. yasmara

        We have a loose vacation notification policy in my particular department, but I would prep my boss pretty early for anything more than a couple of days & quite a few months in advance for 2 weeks (which is a rare trip, maybe once every few years). For 2 months? I would have notified my boss at least 6 months in advance & would have had to jump through all sorts of HR hoops myself, with my boss’s approval, to get non-emergency unpaid leave approved.

      2. Jules the Third

        It *really* varies by company and even department.

        My company doesn’t require ‘management approval’ for time off, they just require that you get ‘coverage’ and coordinate with your backup. For anything over a week, that does usually mean you need to loop in your manager, because your backup will need help.

        My team has a shared calendar where people post time off, but that’s courtesy not requirement. Other depts in my company, it’s required.

    3. Just Employed Here

      Yup, I’d never buy tickets before I have the dates approved via email (= in writing). I also try to plan and book things as early as possible, both for my own peace of mind and so that the company knows when I’ll be (un)available.

      I’m the one that starts bugging the team about summer holiday dates in early January… And still, this year it took until March before everything worked out and we could finally start booking our trips!

      1. What's with today, today?

        Same! My boss laughs because my vacation requests come 6 months in advance. But we are a small staff and it’s hard to get coverage for my job.

        1. sam

          yeah – I take the same two weeks off every August, and I’ve already gotten the PTO approved for this year. I always make sure to get it approved before I book travel/etc. My boss is generally fine about all PTO requests, but it gives me peace of mind to know that it’s set. I tend to book somewhat offbeat adventure trips that book up months in advance, so I’ve gotta plan!

          For shorter periods, like the extra day I take around before Thanksgiving or whatnot, I don’t worry so much.

        2. Just Employed Here

          A lot of what our team does is stuff that the conpany is legally obliged to get done every single banking day, unless it wants to be fined or lose its accreditation.

          So in the summer and during other popular vacation times, we try to avoid starting new projects and the like (although sometimes sudden regulatory changes means we can’t!), but we still have to do the actual work every.single.day. So most of us have to be there most of the time, and our vacation calendar is a tricky puzzle to solve.

          (I’m always amazed when I read here that people can just let their calls go to voice mail or that a whole company can go for a retreat for a day or longer…)

        3. Bea

          Nothing funny about that, we’re stoked that 50% of our staff puts in vacation requests months in advance. It’s nice to see it coming and not having to juggle things a couple weeks out.

        4. Dragoning

          I ask for my time off as soon as I know when the events I want to attend are. So mine always come ages in advance, but that’s the way it is.

        5. LizB

          In January I sat down with my calendar and wrote out a PTO request that covered all of the planned PTO I want to take in 2018. My manager laughed and approved it all (I had also done the math to make sure I’d have enough time accrued for everything I was requesting plus plenty left over for sick days and other surprises). It’s not even a matter of coverage — I just have a family that plans vacations 6+ months ahead of time, and the dates for the scifi convention I want to go to have already been announced, and I can look up when my religious holidays are happening, and isn’t it just easier to get it all down at once?

          1. Jules the Third

            Heh – I usually have 80% of my annual PTO mapped out by mid-February, though it’s because I try to take time when Young Jules is out of school. I felt ‘late’ this year because it took until last week to nail down which week we’d be going to the beach with my parents.

            But I’ve also been in the job long enough to know when the slow times are.

          2. BenAdminGeek

            As a manager, I love this approach! Most of my team is very similar, and it’s awesome. I’m in April now feeling confident about the year… except for my indecisive employee :)

      2. Detective Amy Santiago

        I just checked my email archives and my BFF & I confirmed our days off with our respective employers and started booking things in mid April for the end of July/beginning of August. She’s a supervisor, so she had to make sure there was coverage and I work in a small office, so I had to make sure no one else was going to be out.

      3. Early Bird

        I’ve been known to start bugging department management about December plans in February.

        1. Early Bird

          And this one time, I requested a week off for a group event cruise, 18 months in advance. But then I ended up having to modify my request multiple times as some things changed and I learned more specific details (e.g. what time of day the ship leaves and returns).

    4. Nita

      This is true, but on the flip side, if OP had asked six months ago no one would have known that the project would get delayed to May. I’m not sure the boss would have even been able to commit to a leave date so early on, since she would have no idea what the workload would be like six months out.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago

        Sure, but it’s something that they could have made contingency plans for if they’d been discussing it for months and saw that the potential for the project to be pushed back might coincide with the planned dates.

          1. Jules the Third

            Which is certainly an option, but seems kinda scorched earth when more openness with his employer (who got OP all that nice technical training, and is supporting OP’s career development) could have gotten OP both the trip *and* the job.

          2. hbc

            That’s not a contingency plan for the company. That’s the opposite of a contingency plan for the company.

      2. Early Bird

        If the OP had asked 6 months in advance, perhaps OP’s boss could have told OP then that the request could only be tentatively approved, in which case OP would have known to only make refundable / cancellable plans. Or OP’s boss might have approved, and it would have been locked in; OP could then have made non-refundable plans, and then refused to budge if OP’s boss tried to rescind approval.

      3. ainomiaka

        but there would have been a much better way to push back on the rollout delay, or train someone else to take over support two weeks after roll out.

      4. Clewgarnet

        I’m taking six weeks off in the summer. Because I got it approved early (last year!) my manager was able to make sure that there was somebody assigned to train as my back-up. This means that, even if my project does get pushed back, there’s somebody available to cover for me and it won’t have an impact on either the project or my leave.

    5. McWhadden

      I get for the two month thing. But are there really companies where you have to give more than TWO MONTHS for a week long vacation? That’s ridiculous.

      1. Who the eff is Hank?

        Yep, I have to give a minimum of three months notice for vacation time, even if it’s just a few days. We’re a nonprofit with a staff of 5, serving a community of ~1,000 people, so we have to make sure all tasks will be covered when people are out.

        1. Liz

          We have a maximum of 90 days for holiday requests (in the US). The earliest I can ask is 90 days before. Often bookings or coordinating with family need more than 90 days so this is very frustrating!

      2. BPT

        There probably are some who require that, which is too extreme for me. BUT, it’s very time dependent. If you’re a meeting planner and want to take a vacation two weeks before your big annual meeting, you probably need to let people know well in advance so contingency plans can be made for last minute things. (Of course I’d suggest not taking time off then anyway, but still.) But if you wanted to take a week off right after the annual meeting, that would probably be less of a big deal. It’s all about balancing work load and realizing that if your work is much busier sometimes than others (tax season for accountants, around big projects (like OP), appropriations time for lobbyists, etc), then that calls for more forward planning.

      3. Just Employed Here

        It’s not so much about the company having to know that you are the one on vacation and Jane is at the office, but it’s about making sure enough people are there to get the job done. (I explained above that there isn’t really a slow period at our office.)

        So if you leave it until a couple of weeks before, someone else might well have already nabbed that week and your request will not be approved.

        For popular times such as the summer, it’s better that everyone makes their requests first and then we try to solve the puzzle, rather than first come, first serve or those with the longest tenure get their way or those who complain the loudest get theirs.

      4. Detective Amy Santiago

        Why is it ridiculous to make sure there is adequate coverage for you to be out of the office?

        1. LizB

          I think in most companies, it’s ridiculous that you’d need a full two months of notice to arrange coverage for a week. Companies that need that much lead time for that length of absence certainly exist, but I think they’re outliers; in my organization we ask for a month of notice, and that’s always more than enough time to figure out who will be doing coverage.

        2. paul

          I’m with McFadden; requiring multiple months for a week off is overboard to me, for most circumstances. If you’re that close to the bone with staffing that’s pretty rough for all involved.

          Multiple months notice for something like this sounds reasonable though. 8 weeks is a long damn time for most offices.

          1. Detective Amy Santiago

            It’s not about being “that close to the bone with staffing” – it’s about making sure half of your department isn’t planning a trip at the exact same time.

            1. paul

              We have that concern too, which is (most of the time) handled by first come first serve. You don’t have to give us 3 months notice, but if two other people *did* and are approved, you’re probably SOL. but if nothing’s already approved and on the calendar shorter notice is fine

            2. WeevilWobble

              That doesn’t make any sense as a reason. If half your staff asks for the same week off you say no to some whether it’s two weeks before or two months.

              1. Arjay

                But as the employee wanting to get the “yes”, you have a better shot by requesting it earlier in most cases.

        3. WeevilWobble

          It is ridiculous because PTO if part of your benefit package and putting such completely insane limitations on it seriously limits use. It’s only reasonable if you think workers matter much less than employers.

      5. WillyNilly

        I mean I have never seen it in writing as a rule, but in practice every job I have ever had, that my friends have, that my husband has had, etc, 4, 5, 6, even 10 or 12 months notice is pretty standard for putting a full week or longer out of the office on the [office] calendar.

      6. falconstrike

        We have to request vacation for the whole year by the second week of January. At midnight the first day we can submit, everyone is frantically draped across their computers at home trying to be the one ” first-come first-served” because approval is granted by who requested first to the minute/second. It’s asinine.

        (Of course, supervisors and director don’t have to do this; they enjoy arranging their schedules to have continual 4-day weekends from spring through fall.)

      7. BottleBlonde

        My boss asks that all requests for summer vacations of a week or longer be on the calendar by February 15. I don’t know that she would actually deny a request that came in a little later, but it’s a strong preference. I am taking two full weeks off this May (pretty uncommon for this office) and I actually put in my request back in September!

      8. Popcorn Lover

        Yup, I have to give 90 days’ notice at my current employer. At my previous employer, vacation requests had to be in by February for the following July-June (i.e. anywhere from 5 to 15 months in advance). If you needed to change something after the schedule was made, you had to arrange your own swap. I had to miss so many weddings and other family/friend events during the years I worked there….

      9. Humble Schoolmarm

        Where I teach, we don’t get any PTO (well, sick leave) other then days when schools are closed, so any holidays during school time are unpaid. Normally, approval isn’t a problem, but this year there is such a shortage of substitue teachers that they announced in November that they would not approve any unpaid leave requests. People who asked for a few days after March Break (the most common) in September got them; those who waited until the OP’s timeline were all refused.

      10. WillyNilly

        The outrage, the carrying on, the upset, the fuming mad comments on my FB feeds the last few weeks were very much focused – last year the NYC Dept of Ed released the school schedule in early March, this year it was released early April – 6 months before school starts in Sept. Parents were freaking out about the “late” release and how they were “forced” to guess on school closings to plan their 2018/19 school year family vacations.

    6. Jen

      I manage a large team. Assuming a good performer, I wouldn’t say no to this request for anyone, provided we had ample notice. I had 4 people out on maternity leave during 2017. We can plan for this stuff! But with the maternity leave (3-4 months off) I had ~6 months notice to plan. When team members take international vacations (typically up to 10 business days), I have no issues approving them but those requests come in far in advance- much further than a month or two. And they are always floated first: in March: “we are thinking about heading to Oktoberfest this year- any issues if I plan to be gone for a couple weeks around mid-September?” Or in April: “hey my cousin is getting married in Cape Town this winter and we’re hoping to make a thing of it. I know it’s a lot of time but I was hoping to take all of December off. I could do PTO/unpaid/whatever—what do you think?”

  5. Hey Karma, Over here.

    I’m curious, just being nosy here…you began planning the trip six months ago, at which point you were immersed in this year long project. Did you delay telling your boss for multiple months because you thought she’d pull you from the project because you’d be out at the end? If this is the case, in addition to her making others change vacations, do you think there’s a real chance of your boss compromising?
    I don’t. Whether it’s a power play or unwillingness to disrupt her long term plans, she’s not super flexible.
    Please follow up.

    1. Yorick

      I think OP said the project was supposed to be over earlier but there were unexpected delays

      1. Hey Karma, Over here.

        I didn’t register that. That undoubtedly affected OP’s timeline for time off, too. It was going to over…very different situation.

    2. Forrest

      I wish I worked at a place where a “not super flexible” boss let me take off for two months on short notice.

  6. Loopy

    In my experience this sounds very reasonable. Especially since your manager is allowing two months leave on what I personally considering short notice for a key person.

    I also wouldn’t have planned anything you couldn’t have changed before getting in writing permission. It seems odd to quit over this since it’s a fairly minor adjustment (versus a hard no).

    1. CanCan

      The OP also didn’t mention why those particular dates are important. For example, if his sister’s wedding is May 20th, there may be stronger reasons to approve those particular dates. But if those dates just happen to work a little better (catch an extra festival or two, avoid hot August weather, flights being slightly cheaper) — it would be unreasonable for the OP to refuse to agree to a 2-week adjustment, when the entire 2-month vacation/leave is already pretty generous.

  7. Lynn

    That…. is a very long vacation to take with only one month’s notice. Why on earth didn’t you ask about this six months ago when you started planning?

    Regardless, if the trip can be moved (and if you have the resources to be unemployed, I suspect you can also eat a few change fees), moving it seems like the reasonable solution.

    If you cannot or do not want to change it and plan to quit anyway, given the roll-out situation, it’s likely to be the nuclear option. Given that you’d be totally burning your bridges anyway, one last attempt could be possible – “As we discussed, this trip is important for family reasons. I understand it’s a long absence, and comes and an inconvenient time. Given the changing dates for the roll-out, that couldn’t be helped. I am willing to assist with the roll-out remotely from May 17 to June 1, but I simply cannot postpone this family committment. If we cannot reach an agreement that will allow me to meet both the needs of the roll-out and the needs of my family, I will be leaving the company and ending my employment effective May 17.”

    1. Seriously?

      I would be worried about references if I quit under those circumstances. The company is being more than reasonable. There doesn’t seem to be a reason that the vacation can’t be moved, so asking for it to be pushed back by two weeks isn’t bad at all. Quitting at a key time because they didn’t approve two months off exactly when you want it doesn’t look great, especially with so little notice.

      1. Lynn

        Quitting over this, at the time of the roll-out, is definitely a bridge-burning, nuclear option. But he’s already said he’s willing to quit if he doesn’t get his way. Might as well consider how to make that sound somewhat palatable.

  8. Helena Handbasket

    Is there a particular reason that you didn’t bring this up to her when you were actually planned the trip 6 months ago? I feel like the conversation might have gone differently if your manager had had more time to make contingency plans.

    1. Morning Glory

      I think it’s because the LW knew they’d be willing to walk away if the vacation was not granted. It’s logical that they would not want to suffer professionally for 6 months if their boss denied the request and knew the OP would be leaving the company – the OP may have lost out on being lead for this project, and all of the training they’d received to develop their skill set.
      However, I agree they went too far the other way, and 2.5 months’ notice for 2 months leave is not enough time.

      1. Anna

        I don’t think the OP would even have to tell the boss they’d be willing to walk away, though. It wouldn’t have benefited the OP to drop that bit of info because then it becomes an ultimatum. The OP could know that in their own mind they’d walk away if it wasn’t approved, but at that point you ask with as much notice as possible and if the boss okays it you’re done. If the boss doesn’t okay it, you give notice however far in advance you want (two weeks, a month) and then head to the UK for eight weeks.

        1. hbc

          Quitting two weeks before the end of a big project (with your end date just happening to line up with your previous rejected vacation request) shows that you knew the whole time you were going to leave the project high and dry. If OP wasn’t using part of the time to train other people “just in case”, I think that’s worse for the career than saying 8 months early “This is a firm trip and if the project slips I’ll have to be remote, or you’ll need someone else on this project.”

          1. Detective Amy Santiago

            And if it’s a small industry, OP may very well do serious damage to their professional reputation.

          2. ainomiaka

            it’s two weeks after the end of the project with delays. While I agree that saying earlier was the right thing to do, taking time off after the end of a big project is pretty normal in a lot of companies.

            1. Shiara

              It’s two weeks after the final roll-out of the project. In my field, at least, that’s not the “end” of the project. If anything the weeks post roll-out can be even more crazy than the weeks pre-rollout, depending on how smoothly everything goes. The last big project we had, we were pretty much in vacation blackout for a month and a half after the final roll-out date.

      2. Just Employed Here

        But why would the letter writer have let the manager know they were planning on going on the trip regardless? They shouldn’t have, and then would have received exactly the same opportunities as they did now. Then they could have decided for themselves whether to stay or quit nearer the date.

    2. Just Allison

      I agree if they had talked to their manager and gotten it approved. Now they could say we agreed to this six months ago everything is booked and I cant changed it. Buuuut because they waited so long to get it approved they dont have that card anymore. I would just work the two weeks and then go on my 2 month long european vacation happy to know that everything worked out and I still have a job to go back to.

  9. Antilles

    I thought the same thing. Maybe I’m mis-interpreting, but:
    When we planned this trip six months ago,
    When I first mentioned the desire for extended personal leave over a month ago,
    I’m reading that as the entire trip was planned well before she even “mentioned” it to the boss. No, you don’t schedule a two-month vacation without even mentioning it to the boss and I’m not the slightest bit surprised that the boss’ reaction was pushing back hard given the business realities. Two months is *not* a small thing to ask for.

    1. Antilles

      (that was intended to be a reply to Gollum’s statement that you need to ask for leave before starting to plan for the trip, not sure why it came out on its own)

  10. I, too, love long vacations

    Echoing Allison and other posters – I think if you’d given much more advance notice, you would’ve had room to negotiate, but since you’ve left it so late they’re actually being incredibly flexible with you. I would accommodate them and join your partner two weeks later – you’d still have 1.5 months of family time and travel, which is pretty wonderful for someone established in their career.

  11. Boredatwork

    I think the problem is this is the hill OP wants to die on. Flights to foreign countries don’t book themselves and I’ve personally never booked a plane ticket without getting approval from my boss for vacation.

    Op my advice to you, is to tell, not ask your boss about the arrangement you need. Phrase this in a way that’s more – I’m telling you what I’m doing – not asking permission. If your boss pushes back, be honest and say that unfortunately you have already book non-refundable airfare/accommodations/ect and you are unable to alter your plans. You can soften this by apologizing for making it seem like the dates you proposed were flexible.

    If your boss says no, resign and offer as long of a notice period as they want. This will hopefully prevent too much bridge burning but you are leaving right as a major project rolls out.

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

      I have — but I also had a manager who dragged his feet notoriously on approving vacations, so that it was a matter of booking flights before approval or paying double (or not being able to get flights at all!) if I waited until he approved the vacation.

      In the absence of a manager who’s a flaming dick, I agree.

    2. Where's the Le-Toose?

      The OP’s flight leaves on May 17th, so if the OP wants to resign, it should be soon. While 2 weeks is the standard notice here in the US, every industry is different and if the OP is in an industry where a longer notice is expected, the OP should do this today if that’s the path OP is taking.

  12. No Regrets

    I hope you’re able to work out everything, but if not, please go ahead and go on your trip, regardless of how singed that bridge gets. Life is short. When you’re 85 and looking back, you’ll never be happy that you chose work.

    1. Molly

      But when the OP is 85 are they going to remember that they had to move their trip by 2 weeks? Seems pretty reasonable considering the short notice and that it is an extended unpaid trip.

      1. Morning Glory

        Yep, I agree with this. It is still an awesome trip, and to me, moving or reducing the time by 2 weeks is a small price to pay to have your job waiting for you at the end.

      2. Clarice Fitzpatrick

        Agreed. Even if there’s the inconvenience of cost for changing flight dates, if LW has enough money to be unemployed for some time, then it should be feasible for her to buy another plane ticket. Which would suck, no doubt, but the savings of retaining a job while still in good graces with management vs. walking out and potentially burning that bridge would be worth it I think.

    2. Yorick

      When you’re 85 and look back, you may regret that you left a good job and ended up with a long unemployment or a terrible next job

        1. Phoenix Programmer

          Maybe if you were still stuck working and unable to retire because a bad choice led to worst outcomes ever but yeah in general I find the whole YOLO when you are 85 you will be glad you did X arguments to be flimsy on principal.

          1. LBK

            Same. I think it’s fine advice for small decisions where it’s more about not stressing yourself out if things will be fine either way, but you shouldn’t potentially throw your career in the garbage under the assumption that in the long run you’ll be happier.

            The parts of my life that have been the most memorable so far cost money; I couldn’t have traveled around Europe for two weeks for free, and I couldn’t have afforded it if I hadn’t put a considerable amount of time and effort into my career. I get paid enough and get enough vacation to enable me to do things like that in part because there have been times when I chose working over not working.

          1. Anna

            I don’t think anyone at 85 still working can trace it back to this One Decision. Usually if you’re in a situation like that it’s due to a series of decisions or situations that culminated in this. The people I know who have shitty situations in their later years are only wishfully thinking when they point to the One Decision that got them there. It seems incredibly unrealistic to me.

            1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

              I don’t think that kind of catastrophizing is the only way it could end up as a regret, though. I mean, I regret decisions that didn’t totally derail my life but only made it rather more difficult.

        2. hardlyworking

          This is purely a one-off/anecdotal but I am sure there are more stories of people like my dad will still be working full-time at 85 (if he lives that long) because of one particularly headstrong work choice.

          He says often that he regrets leaving a job that would have allowed him to retire at 60. He never was able to find something “better” like his cocky 30-year old self thought he would when he walked out and burned a major bridge.

          1. Anna

            But that’s hindsight. Perhaps he could have retired at 60, but that’s only if absolutely nothing else could influence that and that’s not the case. People’s lives are very rarely completely shaped by The One True Choice.

            1. AnonymousGold

              Three years ago, I took the nuclear option and walked off a job. I was blackballed in my industry. Three months later, I got hired in academia (completely different industry), and, since then, have earned two free advanced degrees, am dually licensed in a specialized professional field (completely different than the field I walked out on), and am tenure-track faculty. My life has been completely shaped by The One True Choice. It happens more than you think.

        3. Lindsay J

          If you quit a good job that is giving you options for growth and development, quit it, and then wind up spending years in a shitty job with lower pay, less development, horrible coworkers, etc? I can’t imagine not regretting it.

          Like, sure, spending a month abroad would be (and is) cool. But the stuff I deal with on a daily basis in and out for years has a much higher effect on my overall happiness than something that I spend a couple weeks doing before I have to go back to reality.

          I mean, I spent a week in New Zealand this January. And I loved it. But getting this job I have now, and the opportunities they have provided me, are much more important to me than one trip.

          I had to take the time unpaid, and if they told me I couldn’t go, I would have been upset, I would have resented them and their decision for quite awhile. But I wouldn’t have quit over it. I would have moped, and then replanned the trip for next year.

          If I did quit, I would have had difficulty finding a better job than I have right now when I got back, and I certainly wouldn’t have found a place that would give me a promotion and a 33% raise 3 months later. And that would greatly effect my immediate quality of life, and possibly my future earnings and career path for the rest of my life.

          In my case, and in the OP’s case as well, it doesn’t sound like it’s a “once in a lifetime” opportunity type thing. This isn’t like seeing my younger brother get married, or visiting my parents’ (hypothetical) deathbed or getting tickets to the Olympics or seeing my team in the Superbowl or something. I could go next year and it would be just as cool. It sounds like the OP could go on their trip two weeks later and it wouldn’t mean missing any type of huge event.

          1. Anna

            I don’t spend a lot of time regretting things I have done in my career because I am not Fate and can’t see the myriad outcomes of choices I make. Very few people’s lives are permanently derailed because of one decision. The reason we know about those whose lives are is because it’s so rare. Everybody has that example of that one friend whose whole career was changed because they decided to do X instead of Y. But there are far more people who decided to do X instead of Y, came back from X, went about their day, moved on to a new position, had a great time working there, left for another opportunity, etc. Maybe let’s spend some time thinking about them?

            Basically, this isn’t a total deal breaker. The OP has options and if they’re willing to flex on this, it will probably be better for them. However, it’s also not the end of the world if they choose to put in their notice and take this trip.

            1. LBK

              It’s not so much about The One Decision that permanently changed your life and regretting that specific choice 50 years later. It’s about the opportunity cost of not having chosen your career over your immediate happiness at certain points and what rewards you might have missed out on as a result.

              I’m in my 20s and I’m currently planning my second trip to Europe in three years. I took two cruises last year. I spend a weekend in New York almost every month seeing Broadway shows. Those are experiences that will last me a lifetime that aren’t available to a lot of people my age, and while there’s certainly privilege and luck that factors into it, a lot of that is hard work as well and not digging in on letting work sometimes take precedence over my personal life. I absolutely don’t regret those decisions and I doubt I ever will, because I recognize the doors they opened for me.

              This decision is always framed as “do you really want to choose work over X?” but I’ve found at least earlier in life, you can’t do “X” if you don’t work.

        4. Yorick

          Here’s the kind of situation I mean: OP quits the job and has a great time in Europe but has trouble finding a new job and is unemployed or underemployed for years. This could put them into huge debt, place a strain on their relationship, affect their self-esteem, etc. They may not recover for a really long time.

          Also, what if OP quits to take the vacation and then has a horrible time? That would make any negative consequences from quitting feel that much worse.

    3. Seriously?

      That would make more sense if the choice were go on the trip or don’t. But the choice is go on the trip on May 17th or go on the trip on June 1st. Keeping your job is usually worth a 2 week shift. It isn’t like they are traveling for a particular event that will be over by June 1st.

    4. Happy Lurker

      I am in the minority here. I agree with No Regrets. I think OP should go and I think there is a lot more to OPs story.
      The project started a year ago. They thought it would wrap up much sooner…
      Started making plans six months ago. Talked to boss a month ago.

      I would like to think OP tried to do the right thing, but the work project kept getting pushed back. The project is scheduled to be done 2 weeks before they leave on their trip, but work wants a month of post project coverage at the office.

      OP, look for another job, put the feelers out. See how valuable you are on the market.
      You have a month before you leave on your trip. Wouldn’t it be nice to have options?

      Depending how the last conversation went, I would approach them again about remote work for the two weeks at the end of May. If work gets uncomfortable or hostile, just put in your 2 weeks notice. What would work do if you were “hit by a bus” or they wanted to lay you off? Your timing could have been better, but what’s done is done.

      I was once put on a PIP for planning on taking off 1 day, unpaid after 11 months of work. No sick days. I walked in the next day and gave my notice. My boss was a jerk, but the whole place was messed up. It was the best thing I could have done in that situation and my next job and boss was the best one I ever had.

      OP good luck and please update.

    5. Forrest

      She works for a company that she’s been able to rapidly rise at in over four years and for a boss who is willing to give her two months off on short notice.

      This is not a job to throw away over a mistake on her part (not bringing it up sooner.)

  13. KHB

    Two months is very little notice to give for a two-month extended absence. Although every workplace has different needs so direct comparisons aren’t always useful, we’re asked to give two months notice of a one week vacation, and three months for two weeks or more. (I don’t think the manager who came up with those guidelines for us even considered the possibility of a two-month vacation.)

    And you’re boss is right that they’re already being generous and accommodating by letting you take an extended unpaid leave at all. They didn’t have to do that. It’s not like your paid vacation time, which is a benefit that you earn, so you can be legitimately annoyed by a boss who won’t let you use it.

    1. Just Employed Here

      But even with the paid vacation time you’ve earned, you have to agree on the dates before you start booking tickets. It’s paid time off you’ve earned, but it doesn’t come with a carte blanche regarding the timing.

      1. KHB

        That’s true – but good managers try very hard to let people take vacations when they want to take them, as much as possible. The default position shouldn’t be to treat a PTO request as the opening bid in a negotiation.

        1. Just Employed Here

          Absolutely, but I think that with a manager’s willingness to try to approve vacations exactly as they have were requested, and to do so without delay, comes an expectation that the requests are made reasonably early (whatever that means for their particular office).

  14. Phoenix Programmer

    When I first read the title i thought ops boss had pulled what my bully boss did. I asked for four weeks vacation 8months in advance and was approved. Then 2 weeks before I was to go was denied and told it’s a departmental policy that maximum vacations could be for 2 weeks. Then a few months later not one but 2 other employees took 1 month+ vacations. I complained to my bosses boss and she agreed I was treated unfairly and watched my interactions more closely but other than that not much could be done.

    1. Just Employed Here

      One of my favourite colleagues was hired by our boss (who had worked with him before) because his preapproved vacation time at his ex-job got pulled by his bosses, and he quit on the spot because of it. Yay, good for us!

    2. J.

      When I read the title, I thought it was going to be about a trip that was pre-approved, but then the project got put through endless development hell and dragged out much, much longer than the expected window.

      Two weeks is nothing in terms of many development delays, and the leave wasn’t even approved in the first place? I don’t think it’s at all unreasonable to deal with that for the benefit of having a job when you get back. But I guess if the OP was already ready to walk away, it might be a different story.

    3. Judy (since 2010)

      I worked at a company that had a 2 week shutdown for production in July. I was an engineer in a maintenance adjacent department, we mostly took the shutdown, but not always. My in-laws were going to Hawaii and wanted to take us too. My sister-in-law and her family were living in Japan and were going to meet us there. I asked my manager if I would be able to take the shutdown in December. He said I would need to work shutdown. My husband & I told his parents we wouldn’t be able to go. We planned a vacation for ourselves later in the year.

      Two weeks before shutdown, my manager came to me and said that I could take shutdown off.

      I moved departments within 6 months.

  15. Karo

    I wonder if there are any tax or labor law implications for the company if OP were to work remotely from the UK. I mean, if you have an employee working in CA you have to abide by their labor laws (right?), so I’d imagine something similar would apply to an employee working in a different country.

    1. Just Employed Here

      It would work like that in Europe if it was a permanent or long term thing, but I doubt two weeks would be enough for that. I mean, there are international conferences that last nearly that long, and don’t trigger this kind of bureacracy.

      1. Karo

        My understanding is that there is a relatively low time limit for how long you can work in the UK before triggering the need for a visa. Of course, I have no idea where I read that and am therefore completely unable to back that statement up!

        1. Jules the Third

          If it’s still EU standards, it’s 90 days. If you’re on a visitor’s visa and not working for a UK/EU company, then they don’t care (much) about how you spend your visiting time.

    2. Mediamaven

      That’s a great point. I hired two employees who worked remotely for a couple of months before relocating and I actually had to get a business license, workers comp and all the bells and whistles in each of their respective states. It was a lot of hassle for a short period of time.

  16. BRR

    For working remotely, if your company doesn’t do business in the country(ies) you’ll be in, that could be the hurdle in you working remotely. Besides that I’m echoing everyone else, it’s not a lot of advance notice and your employer/manager doesn’t sound that unreasonable.

    1. nonymous

      If the company doesn’t already do business in the country(ies) OP is visiting, they may be concerned about IP and data security while he travels. My org has some international travel, and the staff who are involved use a different VPN server for international travel (which limits access compared to what they would have in the states).

      1. BRR

        That’s also a good point. I was thinking specifically of taxes and visas but cyber security is another huge issue. (Of course transparency in the decision would be nice from the manager).

        1. Jules the Third

          Usually taxes / visas don’t come in to play for a 2-week visit between the US and EU. They recognize short term business trips as not needing extra paperwork.

          The IT / security thing is legit, as is the potential for needing to be available for meetings.

  17. Madeleine Matilda

    I think OP needed to give more notice and , if possible, should be flexible now to see the roll out of this project through. One of my staff took at 3 1/2 week vacation to Europe with his extended family last year. He alerted me to it 6-7 months in advance. He made sure all his projects were at a good stage before his scheduled vacation and I covered the unexpected things in his work that came up while he was gone. I appreciated the advance notice.

  18. Xay

    Considering the timing and the length of the vacation, I don’t think the boss is being unreasonable. The OP should have at least given the boss some notice about the length of vacation and the time frame before now – especially knowing that their boss has asked people to change their vacation dates in the past.

    I understand OP’s frustration with not being allowed to telework while abroad, but having been on the other side, I understand where the boss is coming from. I’ve worked for a company where people were allowed to telework on vacation and even the most diligent had challenges staying on US time and being reachable, especially with urgent deliverables.

    1. Lindsay J

      And with it being a vacation, even moreso. Like, is the OP really going to be cool with walking out the door and jumping on the phone while out to eat at a fancy restaurant with their future in-laws to trouble-shoot a work problem?

      Keeping their phone on at a play?

      Bringing their laptop to a museum so they can hop onto wifi (public wifi, or are they going to tether to their phone or carry a separate wifi modem as well) and remote in?

      Who is going to pay for all the international data and roaming charges?

      What happens when they wake up their fiance in the late night/early morning dealing with work stuff on what is supposed to be a pleasant and relaxing vacation?

      What is their fiance and future in-laws going to think about this? Are they going to think that they’re a work-a-holic, or get the impression that they don’t like their extended family and are using work as an excuse get out of spending time with them?

      Like, I think that this is supposed to be a big vacation for them makes it hugely different that working while traveling abroad for a work conference or while living abroad. A lot of vacations involve trying to take as much as humanly possible in about the destination in the short amount of time you’re there. And having to work constantly would be a big hindrance to that goal.

  19. hbc

    OP, I’m a pretty easy-going manager, and I would be ticked off if you pulled this move on me. Two months notice on a two month absence? Which requires HR coordination and such?

    The only reason to delay notification was because you weren’t really asking, you were telling. And by even delaying the conversation of “This trip is so important to me that I will quit if that’s what’s needed,” you denied her the chance to train other people appropriately as the schedule slid or make other arrangements. From her point of view, you deliberately put her in a no-win situation.

    Honestly, I think your bridge is already burned (especially with a boss who has a history of being rigid about stuff.) If she doesn’t cave, you quit at a crucial moment in the project. If she does cave, you will get zero slack and zero opportunities to be in such a key position again.

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

      The more I think about it, the more I agree with this. Given what’s here, I just can’t see how the boss is being rigid or unreasonable.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale

      All of this. I’m really curious why the OP didn’t give her manager a heads-up sooner. Just spitballing here, but there’s often a feeling that personal business is personal business, if I have to be out of the office so what, etc., and while that’s definitely true on a macro basis, it’s also true that planning is a courtesy if not a business necessity. Why keep travel plans so private when discussing them can make things smoother for everyone around you? When I plan my vacations, I expect my time off to be approved, but I also try to keep the needs of the business in mind. Sometimes (often, I would say) that requires nothing more than time. I once went on a group trip out of the country that coincided with a big work event that was usually all hands on deck. I couldn’t change my dates, but I could help plan, so I told my boss about the dates several months in advance. No harm done either way.

    3. MommyMD

      OP should just quit bc it doesn’t seem like they are invested in their job. It’s not hard to delay the trip for two weeks. Employer is being generous even approving it at all. The whole “I’ll quit if I don’t get my way even though I waited until the last minute” would be met with an OK by me.

    4. New hiring manager

      Exactly this – OP put her boss in a no-win situation. Either the OP gets to go on the trip when she wants (with less than the overall-reasonable amount of notice) and the project is shorted, or OP is denied and is upset/quits. All because OP didn’t bring this up sooner? That’s not really fair.

      I mean, at my job, 8 weeks paid is out of the question, so I think boss lady is being more than accommodating here.

      1. Just Employed Here

        The 8 weeks are unpaid. Still not doable in a lot of jobs, but not as out there as 8 weeks paid.

        1. Just Employed Here

          Oops, sorry, started writing the above and then stuff happened and I didn’t refresh the page before continuing.

    5. GM

      +100
      Saved me the trouble of writing my own comment! I’m an easy-going manager too, but even I would have trouble approving a last-minute request like this.

  20. Nita

    Unless there is some reason for needing these exact dates, I think your boss isn’t being too unreasonable. It’s not your fault the project roll-out ended up coinciding with your travel date, but it’s happened. She’s still willing to give you two months off (which is a LOT in the USA!), just not on that exact date. I would think a trip to see friends and family is full of things that can be rescheduled by a week or two, and the only thing that would be a big problem is the plane fare… which is sort of the chance you take when you buy tickets before your boss gives definite approval. Hopefully the plane tickets can also be switched to another date with no big financial loss.

    Not sure what her reasons are for wanting you in the office during the post-rollout weeks, but maybe she just doesn’t have a ton of experience with you working remotely and isn’t sure you’ll be as responsive (especially on time-sensitive issues) as you hope to be. And maybe there are things you just wouldn’t be able to do remotely, like accessing certain software.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      My brother is getting married in June 2019. I am starting a new job in a few weeks. I will be asking about the policies for arranging vacation so that I can ensure I get time off for his wedding.

      Maybe it’s just my nature (I am A Planner), but I cannot imagine leaving things so long, unless it was a spur of the moment decision (which this doesn’t sound like).

      1. L.

        Yes! My sister got married in April 2017 (in Hawaii), and I asked for the 2 weeks off in September 2016 before I booked my flights in October. I had a vacation with my dad last month, and I asked for the time off in December. And I have never had a problem with getting my vacation approved, because nobody needs to cover me! I just consider it smart to make sure you’ve got the time before booking tickets. (Not to mention so much easier to plan for if everyone knows about it a long while in advance).

      2. Whoa

        Even thinking about waiting that long to give notice for a vacation, even if it was only week or two, gives me anxiety. As a serious type A/Planner, you can never be prepared enough.

      3. Aleta

        I am also A Planner and all these people talking about planning vacations three months in advance is giving me the vapors. The only reason I’d do less than six months is if I needed the extra time to save for flights/lodgings!

        This is probably partially from having to deal with my mother’s extreme last minute planning. One time in college, when I flew back for Christmas, when she picked me up at the airport she told me that she had found a really good deal so we’re flying to Egypt the next day. Everything involved in that, down to thinking about going to Egypt in the first place, was done during my flight from Boston to London.

  21. Tea

    You planned a two month vacation 6 months ago and didn’t think to tell your boss about it until last month. Had you said something 6 months ago that this was your plan, she could have arranged this for you before you made the plans. Like I could understand if it was a week or two weeks, but two months out of the country when you’ve been heading a big project that is rolling out the same time as you are leaving?? That’s not cool.

    1. MommyMD

      And the whole I don’t need this job attitude is uncool. I once had a colleague say this every time they were annoyed, which was a lot, and I finally said then quit and let someone work here who appreciates it. They stopped.

      1. rubyrose

        When I stepped into a management role I inherited someone with 30 years with the company whose work stunk and was constantly threatening to leave. After 9 months of trying to turn her around and putting up with her attitude, one day she lost it, made the threat and asked what she should do. I told her to do what was best for her. She opened an email to me and typed her resignation. I suggested she put in her last date, which she did. She hit the send button.

        My new manager, who was unseasoned, wanted us to refuse it. I refused and fortunately his manager went with me. The problem child was gone.

      2. Delphine

        I don’t think a person who has worked at a place for four years and progressively risen through the ranks has quite the attitude you suggest. The LW made a choice, when she was planning a vacation, to prioritize that vacation over her current employment, if need be. But she’s clearly looking for a way to sort this out without leaving.

  22. Lady Phoenix

    Op, your lack of urgency is not your boss’s emergency. You had the time to set a vacation date, so why didn’t you have the time to let your boss know?

    If this was a big thing for you, you should have let them know in the very beginning.

  23. Eye of Sauron

    I’m on team boss/HR for this one.

    If I were your boss in this situation, this is what I would be thinking.

    You already look very flaky by giving them 1-2 months notice for a 2 month leave. This is very sudden from their perspective. The offer to work remotely for the two weeks would be a non-starter for me, see the above flaky perception. How would I, as your boss, know that you’d be available and really working for those 2 weeks? I already have a bad impression that you sprung this on me, and worse if I suspect (or know) that you’ve been planning this long before you told me. So I would be concerned that you would spring on me at the last minute that for some reason you are not available to work remotely for those 2 weeks and I would be screwed.

    I’m also now (as your manager) feeling backed into a corner. This is something that I’m going to remember no matter how this is resolved. This will affect the trust level going forward and I will probably think twice about giving you an opportunity that would open me up to this in the future.

    All that being said, I think you handled this badly from the get go. You knew that this was going to be an unusual request and now when it hasn’t gone your way you are going to walk away. (FTR, no judgement from me on the walking away part). What I do think you need to do is figure out sooner than later if you are going to walk away to give your manager as much notice as possible.

  24. CatCat

    If the dates are unmovable for you, I’d just put in my notice now. A month’s notice should be sufficient to help smooth the transition of work to other people. I wouldn’t mention the vacation or anything. Keep it short and simple with the boss. “I am putting in my notice and my last day here will be May 15. I’m fully committed to doing what I can between now and then to ensure a smooth transition of my project assignments to others. I was thinking [whatever you have thought would help in the transition].” Then just listen to what they need during your notice period.

    If they still desire your services after your end date, they can bring that up on their own and along with their proposal on how to arrange it perhaps on a consulting basis.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      I think if OP is going to quit, this is the least damaging way to do it, but I also think it’s entirely possible that she is torpedoing her career long term. Even with a month’s notice, the circumstances are going to very likely color any potential reference from this job and, as I mentioned elsewhere, if this is a small industry, you can guarantee people will talk.

  25. Temperance

    Why not just meet up with your partner after the 2 weeks you’re needed for your project? She can see her family for those 2 weeks, and you can join after.

  26. Laura H

    I work retail and even if I want to be off schedule for one day, I like giving a month if not more time than that (and I don’t make concrete plans till I get approval) and if I’m in doubt, I ask before I even make the request.

    The brunt of this is kinda on you OP- you made choices which were not the best decisions from the get go…

  27. rubyrose

    In addition to all the comments above about the timing of your request, I want to point something else out. The company made you the point person for new skills needed for this project. I assume this means you have knowledge no one else has at this point. I would want you sticking around for this reason alone. Add the shortness of your request and the length of time you want, I would be miffed. No wonder she went to HR.

  28. lnelson1218

    I am in a somewhat similar but not exactly the same situation. The contract I am on is ending at the end of this month. A friend is getting married in France early July and I have family there. I don’t have anything new lined up at the moment. I have already booked my trip as when I did so, no other jobs on the horizon. I’ll be gone about three weeks.
    So now I am in the situation of letting potential employers know that I am gone for awhile. It came up in an interview today. If my candidacy is moving ahead, would they be willing to let me do some of the work while overseas?
    Time will tell.

    1. Lady Phoenix

      I think this is different.

      For you, you actually are giving new conpanies a head up. That can help influence their decision or take measures to make sure when you leave, they aren’t stuck behind.

      OP was already hired by that company, planned a trip without getting an approval from the company, and informed them of the leave date way too late, and is planning on hitting the road anyway if they don’t get their way.

    2. rubyrose

      Guessing they will not let your work overseas. You might be able to arrange to take those 3 weeks as unpaid. You need to mention it when an offer is made, telling them you already have plans made and tickets purchased.

    3. One of the Sarahs

      Personally, I think getting to the work overseas is a long shot, because they won’t know you, so won’t have an idea about whether you really will put in an 8 hour day while on holiday – or if you will be able to do the job without support in the same time zone after max 2 months in post.

      I think you an ask for the time off, for sure, but it would be a rare company that would agree to remote working on holiday that early into a relationship, unless you’re a proven superstar in your field.

  29. mdv

    Absolutely, 100% your fault for not getting a firm approval before booking international flights!

    Speaking from experience: I have family in Germany, and in the 2nd or 3rd year I worked at my job, my grandparents had a major anniversary. I asked for 7 weeks off work a year in advance, and got it approved by 9 months in advance, so that I had all of the time off approved before I even started shopping for tickets, or setting up plans with my family for that time.

    1. Traveling Teacher

      No kidding. As someone who lives abroad, I always let clients and employers know that I’m going to be travelling many months or even nearly a year in advance. The only circumstances where I’d say this wouldn’t apply would be a serious family emergency or death.

      This one is on the OP, in my opinion. I’m actually quite shocked that the company is bending over backwards to accommodate this request, given the very short amount of notice versus length of the trip!

    2. Salyan

      Last winter, I began planning for a 3-week vacation for this spring. I talked to my b0ss almost as soon as I settled on a timeframe to let her know the timeframe I was considering and get the OK to keep planning (I was watching airline prices, and wanted the flexibility to book as soon as a good deal came up). When I did finally book tickets (4.5 months before the trip), putting my vacation request through was just a formality, as it was already expected & approved.

  30. NW Mossy

    I can speak a bit to what this is like from the boss’s point of view. At the beginning of this year, one of my employees approached me about taking an extended time off (6-7 weeks) to travel to her natal country to see family. She was particularly interested in taking this trip in December/January so that they could be together for Christmas.

    The rub: it’s the busiest season for our team, and also a critical window for a goal she’d set for herself. So I said no, with two alternatives: a shorter trip during the busy season or the same length trip during our off season (summer). She understandably was really disappointed, and it was a tense couple of days as I genuinely wondered whether she’d quit over it. Thankfully, she was willing to keep talking about options, and we ultimately agreed on the summer option.

    While she didn’t get her first option, she did a lot of things right that made it possible for me to say yes to as much as I could. She started talking to me about it many months in advance, she didn’t shut down completely when I said no initially, and she listened carefully to my concerns about how her original plan would negatively impact her and the team.

    Long story short, when and how you ask combined with some flexibility to adapt your plans is your best chance of succeeding in making a request like this.

  31. Roscoe

    I’m a bit more sympathetic to the OP. The problem really comes down to the fact that the project got delayed. Presumably, this wouldn’t be an issue at all if the project rolled out on schedule. Asking you to change your travel plans based on something that wasn’t your fault is a bit much. Also, we don’t know why this particular time was chosen. Maybe this is when extended family can make it, or someone is graduating, getting married, or any other thing. That said, I will agree that you probably could have given a bit more notice. Not saying you needed to give notice the day you booked your trip, but for something this long, you probably wanted to give a little more than 2 months.

    If you are willing to leave, maybe you should just leave. Depending on the airfare rules and stuff, I can see that being the better option. Because its the type of thing where if you leave, then they still have to figure things out without you. But I think you definitely are in a position to say “I’m unable to change my plans for X,Y, and Z reason. I understand that it may be ideal for you. Lets see if we can find something that works for both of us. If not, maybe I should just leave and you can make whatever decisions you need to make from there”

    1. okie dokie

      I think the main problem here is not that they wanted to take vacation days – they want to take basically a sabbatical that they didn’t get pre-approved for that amount of time off. To then be mad that they don’t get 2 months off of their choosing seems a bit presumptuous.

    2. she was a fast machine

      I feel like there’s got to be a more diplomatic way of saying “If not, maybe I should just leave and you can make whatever decisions you need to make from there”. Perhaps “If not, I would be happy to submit my resignation effective May 15th and work diligently to train and bring a replacement up to speed.” or something that helps burn less of the bridge.

    3. Doreen

      “Asking you to change your travel plans based on something that wasn’t your fault is a bit much. ” I would totally agree with that statement if the OP had requested the time off months ago and it was approved before the roll-out got pushed back. But that’s not what happened. It looks like the roll-out was scheduled to end April 30 before the OP even asked for the time off . Perhaps if the OP had requested the time off six months ago, it would have been possible to keep it from being pushed past April 15.

    4. Llama Grooming Coordinator

      But like…OP is springing a two month leave on her employer. She should have almost certainly brought it up around the time she started planning this trip, given that she’s a pretty critical employee.

      Yeah, the direct problem is because of the overrun on the project deadline. But she’s taking a huge amount of leave, with fairly short notice. It might be less fraught if they weren’t anticipating being in a rollout, but I think few organizations wouldn’t raise both eyebrows at that.

      1. AMPG

        Right – when you’re making a big request, you’ll get a “yes” more easily if you can anticipate and mitigate the reasons to say “no.” A delay on a big project where you’re a critical component to the rollout definitely falls into the “contingency planning” category.

        I once had an employee who liked to take annual leave in 3-week chunks, which was generally fine with our company. But one time she took a 3-week vacation in June, and right before she left, she put in a request for another 3-week vacation in October of the same year! Her reasoning was that it was “allowed” because it was in a new fiscal year, but if she had thought about it for just a second she probably would have realized why it was a problem to take 6 weeks off in 5 months.

  32. Nan

    I’m scrolling and haven’t read everything yet, but there is probably tax implications with working in a foreign country. Both for you and the company. Depending on what you do for a living, there may be some very real data security concerns as well.

    1. Jules the Third

      Not for two weeks – the visas between the US and EU are ok with that.

      My company’s experts explained it to me as ‘you get 90 days visitor’s visa. As long as you are not trying to work for an EU company in those 90 days, the EU doesn’t care how you spend your time.’

      1. zora

        Data security could be an issue, definitely.

        And one I didn’t think about the first time I read the letter: Even if they can handle security internationally, the data roaming charges will likely be really expensive. Way more expensive than working remotely from home in the US. Unless you know you will have a really good, reliable internet access every day you are there. But if you are relying on a hotel or moving around a lot, those charges would rack up quickly.

        1. Someone else

          I got the impression they’d be staying with the family, so the internet access would probably be the same as working from home, except it’s the to-be-in-laws home, not their own. If OP won’t be working out of someone’s home with constant, stable internet then their suggestion to work those first two weeks is preposterous. But given they said they’d work their own normal US hours from there, either their expectations are way off base, or they’d not be moving around a lot during that part of the trip.

  33. okie dokie

    Honestly look at it from the outside. You want 2 months off and even though they are unpaid it’s not required that they do this at all. It is hugely accommodating to give you this time off at all – they do not have to do this. 2 months off is a BIG DEAL for getting coverage and not letting things stack up. They also have a very good reason for wanting to move this out 2 weeks, they’re not just yanking your chain. Working remotely from home a couple of times a week is not the same as heading up a big project while on a family vacation. You had 6 months where you knew you wanted this time off and just didn’t bother telling your boss until the last minute. I’m not sure how you are justifying that the company is in the wrong here. I would stop pushing back and move your trip.

  34. Granny K

    Perhaps the OP is looking for validation that s/he is a valued employee…or an excuse to quit?

    1. Lady Phoenix

      Frankly, if OP is so dead set on this and doesn’t need this job, then she should just quit and stop wasting her wmploymwnt’s time.

      1. Mom MD

        Exactly. And if I had an employee who said I’ll quit if you don’t do this extraordinary thing for me, pack your bags bc you aren’t invested.

  35. Camellia

    For reasons that other posters have stated, I don’t think your boss is being unreasonable. Can you be a bit flexible, have your fiance leave at the already-scheduled time, and then you fly out two weeks later?

    1. Jules the Third

      ooh – fiance gets some time to catch up and you get to skip all the ‘how are all those people I don’t know doing’? Win Win!

  36. She Who Must Be Obeyed

    I didn’t read all the other comments, so maybe this has already been addressed, but the biggest problem I see with working remotely is the time change factor. The UK is, what, 5 hours ahead of the East Coast and 8 hours ahead of the West? I don’t know where LW is from, but this could be a significant problem with remote support. I’m guessing people won’t want to wait until the next day for assistance, if they have a problem late in their day and LW is out or sleeping, and LW won’t want to get up in the middle of the night to support the users during the beginning of their day. This could be a huge problem…it’s bad enough just in a country the size of the U.S. Add the Atlantic Ocean into the factor, and you could have a big mess. Unless LW wants to spend the first two weeks of vacation on U.S. time? And does LW really want to spend the first two weeks being available to provide project support?

    1. Just Employed Here

      The LW addresses this in the letter: the people they’d be supporting are all in different time zones anyway, and they’d be prepared to work in US time.

      1. One of the Sarahs

        Yes, but that means they won’t be able to hang out with fiancé’s family/friends in the afternoons or evenings, because that’s USA working hours. I’m a bit bemused how it could work – how OP could do everything from tourism to family hangouts, if she’s working full time on USA hours, while if she’s planning to just field calls when she’s out and about, the logistics of wifi/everyone she’s with having to drop everything and wait for her, seem confusing.

        1. Elsajeni

          It certainly would be a pain, but it also is 2 weeks of a planned 8-week visit — in that circumstance, I might be willing to just say “okay, for the first 2 weeks Lucinda will basically have to pretend I didn’t come with her, I’ll be working full-time, and then when that’s done I’ll still have 6 weeks to see the sights and visit with everybody.” It does seem like it’s not really worth it unless the cost of changing flights would just be astronomical, though.

  37. Jules the Third

    OP, if you quit over this, you will need to put some serous thought into how you answer the inevitable ‘why did you leave your last job?’

    ‘Because they didn’t give me 2mo sabbatical on the exact days I requested, but instead told me to delay it two weeks’ is gonna go over like a lead balloon. Add ‘they wanted the delay so that I could support our major project roll-out’ and it just gets worse.

    Like I posted above, your priorities are yours, but there are real-world consequences to your choices. And spending a very long time unemployed is a realistic consequence to quitting your job over this situation. The reference alone will kill your job prospects for a while, unless you’re lucky enough that your current employer only verifies dates of employment.

    1. Millennial Lawyer

      Not to mention she would be leaving in the middle of a roll out of a big project she headed because she didn’t want to delay vacation 2 weeks… total reputation ruiner.

      1. ainomiaka

        she would be leaving two weeks after the end of the project. Not exactly in the middle of things.

        1. Jules the Third

          Actually, OP would be leaving 2 weeks after the roll out, which means multiple sites will still be finding bugs. It’s not the middle, but in a way it’s worse. Problems now would be impacting a broader group than just the project team.

    2. Bea

      They can spin it as leaving work to spend time with family. Many people quit for personal reasons and you don’t need to bring up you tried taking unpaid leave but it wasn’t something the company and OP could agree upon.

      I left a brutally toxic abusive place with a boss who flipped out on me and wrote me up for the weirdest crap. I just told my future employers that I was tired of working long weeks. It’s not hard to not crack open the actual nitty gritty details!

      1. Jules the Third

        Didn’t say it would be hard, just that OP needs to think about and plan what they will say, because the unvarnished truth will not look good to potential employers.

    3. Kate

      Eh, I don’t think that’s a big deal. The OP doesn’t need to be that specific. Alison wrote a column last month with some suggestions for answering that question. https://www.askamanager.org/2018/03/do-i-need-to-give-interviewers-a-great-reason-for-why-im-looking-to-leave-my-current-job.html And I recall other letters from people leaving toxic jobs who didn’t know how to answer without seeming like a drama llama. You do not have to go into the details of the departure. It is possible her company would tank her reference over this, but it’s also possible they’ll act like professionals and speak to the quality of her work while she was there.

      1. Bea

        And lots of companies do not check references. Also one reference is “did they really work there?” and employment verification. The other is to give a full in depth reference. I just wouldn’t put this boss on there unless it’s an application asking for a supervisor.

        Most places only tank a reference if you quit without notice or got really personal.

      2. Happy Lurker

        I left a toxic workplace. In my interview I just said it was time to move on, the additional hours were too much. The interviewer was my future boss. She didn’t bat an eye. Years later when I told her some stories. She was horrified.

  38. Future Analyst

    Just a note, OP: you may also need to check the laws of what work is allowed in the country(ies) you’ll be in. In some cases, it’s illegal for you to work and be paid for any time while you’re in another country. In other cases, it’s okay to work if you’re there for a few days, but no more than a week, etc. Not sure if that applies here, but if HR is mindful of that, it could explain why your manager won’t allow you to work “from home” when you’re really abroad.

  39. APA

    I had similar experience with OP,
    Last year in May, I planned for 5 months trip back home. I knew, there is no way my company allow me to take 5 months off unpaid so In August, I gave my boss my resignation with 2 weeks notice and explained to him why I need to go home. My boss persuaded me to stay but I insisted on leaving. I said goodbye and thank everyone including our vendors and make a lot of documentation and give it to the head of department. The company threw a little goodbye party for me and I went home few days before my birthday.

    Fast forward 8 month later, I’m still unemployed and looking for a new job. However, during my visit:
    1. I celebrated my birthday with friends and family back home after 6 years not doing so
    2. I was able to attend many family events: weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, vacations etc
    3. I enjoyed my family new house
    4. I got my certifications
    5. My dad is in a healthy condition and will visit me this summer
    6. Most importantly, I had spent times with my grandma who passed away unexpectedly just 2 weeks after I came back.
    Looking back, I don’t regret leaving a good job in a good company for all of above. Job and money can always be obtained but memories are precious.

    OP already prepared mentally and financially to not having a job, and OP know their priority in life. I think it is best for OP to just put the resignation with end date few days before the trip. Keep it professional during the transition, have a lot of documentation, train extensively, and keep being nice to everyone in the office.

    1. she was a fast machine

      I do agree that a lot of very important life events can be enjoyed and experienced while unemployed(especially if you’re traveling overseas!) that, if your focus is on experiences and you’re willing to go without work, are worth the sacrifices. The only question is how badly this will hurt OP’s reputation, though if they’re young enough and work in a younger-leaning sector might not be too great of an issue.

      1. APA

        I agree that this will impact OP’s career but my guess is the OP doesn’t care much about career. Right now, the main goal in OP’s life is family and the OP will do anything to have family time. If the job becomes an obstacle to reach the goal, the job must go.

    2. MissDissplaced

      This is an interesting perspective, and not one coming from fear. This approach really forces one to decide where their priorities lie. Nothing is wrong, but it bears decided thinking through.

  40. she was a fast machine

    It’s seriously getting under my skin that everyone is saying that you shouldn’t have made plans without your boss’s permission, as I feel the way I suspect you do; personal vacations are personal. I understand the reasoning but I also feel like it’s giving work and your employer way too much authority over your time off, which should be yours. I do admit though that I’ve had some bad bosses who would try to talk me out of trips outright if I brought it up as a question instead of a statement, so I wonder if that’s part of why you didn’t bring it up sooner.

    Either way, you’re definitely stuck between a rock and a hard place and you don’t have any options where you come out unscathed. You either accept their offer and leave two weeks later, you either quit right now and give a month’s notice, or you maybe manage to negotiate and you lose a lot of capital in the process.

    1. LBK

      It’s not about having the boss’s permission to go on a trip, it’s about having the boss’s permission to be out of work. What you do during your time off is certainly personal because it is your time, but I do think your employer gets some say in when that time happens. The same would be true if the OP were just going to sit on the couch and watch Netflix for 2 months.

      1. she was a fast machine

        This is a good way to frame it that helps take the bad taste out of my mouth. So many comments are framing it as “you should have gotten your bosses permission before you made vacation plans” when it should be “you should have gotten your bosses permission to take two months off of work regardless of why”

        1. Just Employed Here

          The point about the travel is that travel often involves large, unrecoupable expenses.

          That’s why you can of course choose to put in your vacation request only after you’ve bought your ticket or made your reservations, but it would be smarter to do it the other way around.

          Because nothing will get you a reputation as someone who tries to cheat the system faster than demanding you get your pick of vacation dates because you already have nonrefundable tickets… That’s the kind of blackmail that may fly once, but certainly not twice.

          Sitting on the couch watching Netflix doesn’t work the same way.

        2. Millennial Lawyer

          The reason why people are specifically saying travel plans is because plane tickets, overseas activities, etc. are tough to get refunds for or change usually. People are extra careful to make sure they have approval. You can postpone sitting on your couch without the same personal expense. It has little to do with the boss approving what you to, and more just smart financial and logistical planning.

    2. LadyKelvin

      But this is not a typical “I’m going to be gone for 1-2 weeks, I’ve set up all my work so that I have nothing pressing someone else needs to cover while I’m gone.” type of vacation. In the US you cannot reasonably expect your job to be held for you for 2 months while you take a long vacation without significant buy-in from your boss and company. It would be entirely reasonable (and somewhat expected) for you to get fired during your time away because they need someone to do the work you were doing. That’s why they hired you. That’s why there are laws protecting many women’s ability to take unpaid time off when they have a child. Otherwise companies will just fire you.

    3. Sarah

      Except that they can approve or reject your time off, so booking something without approval can end up wasting a lot of money. Personal time off is personal, but unless you’re self-employed, you still have to get permission to not show up to work.

      Look, travel is a huge priority to me. For the first time ever, I booked a trip less than 6 months in advance and I put a deposit down before getting it approved – but I did that because the deposit was $1 and I could afford to lose it if my dates weren’t approved. I didn’t need to tell my boss why I was taking the time off, I just put my request through the system and he approved it. He asked what I was doing afterwards, and I told him about the trip my friend and I had put our deposits down on. My personal time is personal, but if it’s going to wreck my professional career, I would take that into consideration when planning it.

    4. Eye of Sauron

      I think the group would be more understanding, but this was an out of the ordinary request that is unusual in most workplaces. If it had been a case where the OP had planned a week long trip under the same circumstances the tone in the responses would probably be different. Instead this is a 2 month leave request with only 2 months notice.

      I have a very reasonable employer when it comes to PTO, but I would fully expect the answer to be no if I pulled this same thing under normal circumstances. The amazing part of this story is that they agreed to it, with the condition of the start date moving away from the roll out date. Seriously… This is truly mind boggling to me that they are willing to allow this.

      The employer does have a lot of say and authority about this time off request because unlike vacation or PTO, an employer is under zero obligation to grant an unpaid leave of 2 months*. Even for regular/normal vacation requests there is usually a clause that mentions managers approval depending on business needs.

      *Obviously this would be different for those who are covered by FMLA with an applicable leave reason.

      1. Just Employed Here

        I think the reasoning of the employer is that they just really need to get this project done, and are trying to achieve that.

        It might also be that the OP would have a long downtime right after the launch anyway.

      2. Doreen

        I’m not sure how much the tone would have been different if the OP had planned a week long trip under the same circumstances, including starting on May 17. As long as I have coverage I can generally get my leave approved- with one exception. That exception is if I was informed about something major that requires my presence before I requested the leave. I’m sure there are many jobs that don’t have that sort of issue, but plenty do – and I just don’t think it’s unreasonable for the employer to take business needs into account when approving vacations.

        * By “major” , I mean a state-wide meeting, training or rolling out a program that I’m involved in. Not the regular monthly meeting my manager has with his direct reports.

    5. Bea

      It’s about mutual respect. Would you want an employer who dropped on you that they’ll need you to work 8 weeks of OT without much heads up? Or to change your hours for any amount of time because they certainly could!

      Being out of the office is a huge disruption to your regularly scheduled plan and you must come to an agreement.

      This also isn’t PTO that is earned and a benefit. I sure wouldn’t hold many jobs open for 2 months unless it’s a slow season and mutually beneficial in the way then I save 2 months salary out of the budget.

      Unless it’s an emergency or health related, then it’s a whole new kettle of fish both legally and morally in my POV.

      1. WeevilWobble

        Employers do those things all of the time and don’t face nearly as much outrage here as someone giving two months (which isn’t nearly as outrageous as people here seem to think).

        I don’t know any employer who gives 2 months notice before forcing OT or changing hours. People here always thing employers deserve more respect than employees.

      2. Koala dreams

        Except… that’s what the employer this in this case. When the letter writer planned their vacation, they were told they were going to work with the project until one date, and then the employer changed the timeline. How is that different?

        It’s very enlightening to read everybody’s answers, as a European I don’t really get the norms for vacation and quitting in USA.

  41. LBK

    My feelings on this have more or less been covered, but I did want to call out the OP saying she felt like the boss was pulling a “power move”. That framing feels really off to me – your boss does have authority over your work schedule by nature of being your boss. It’s not a power move for them to assert that authority; a “power move” is an office politics maneuver where you use your position to pressure someone into an action that you don’t necessarily have the authority to directly influence. Flat out denying a vacation request is well within her purview.

    1. Eye of Sauron

      This is a really good point. I get the feeling that the OP is bristling under the circumstance of somebody having authority over them and maybe unrealistic expectations of an average workplace.

  42. alana

    Two months off. On less than two months’ notice. When the company has invested in training you, and when you’re playing a key role on a project that’s taken a year to complete and isn’t done yet. I am astonished that you had the guts to even ask for this in the first place, and surprised by how accommodating your employer is being. If you care about your future at the company, you should immediately say “thank you so much,” change your tickets, work your rear off during that two-week period, and make a solid plan to cover your job while I’m out.

    Anywhere I’ve worked, one month would be a lengthy amount of time off, even for a big life event like a wedding/honeymoon. (My workplace is pretty flexible as far as time off goes, for an American office, and still requires absences longer than 2.5 weeks to be approved personally by the CEO or COO.)

    Two months is an incredibly long time — the only people I know who’ve taken that much time off have been on medical leave, maternity leave, or book leave. If this were a real family emergency, you could take FMLA leave (and if it were a family emergency but FMLA didn’t apply, your company should definitely approve it and not hassle you at all). But you just want to take a vacation. That’s fine! It sounds like a wonderful trip! But it’s important that you realize that in most workplaces, that is really, really outside the norm.

    It sounds like you play an important, specialized role, and that you don’t do the kind of work where a temp or another team member can just step in and take over your desk. Two *weeks* is a decently long time for an employee to be gone in that situation, and even a two-week absence would require a decent amount of prep time on your/your manager’s behalf. Also, since it sounds like a large company with HR and so forth, you going unpaid, while it’s a sacrifice for you, actually doesn’t benefit the company much. Your salary and benefits for the year were already baked into the budget, and your manager likely doesn’t get it as extra money in her budget for the department or whatnot. The only way that might change is if she could hire a temp to cover for you while you’re out, but it doesn’t sound like you play the kind of role where that would really make much of a difference.

    I’m not trying to tell you your priorities are wrong. Family is important. Travel is wonderful, particularly if it brings you and your fiancé(e) closer together. But I want to push back hard against the notion that your manager is being at all unreasonable or unfair. Some things are just not usually compatible with full-time professional jobs, and two-month trips to Europe are usually one of them.

    Enough people have covered why you should have asked in advance. I’ll add that since this is a hill you were willing to die on, another approach might have been to just give notice. “Partner and I have decided to travel the world this summer, so I’ll be leaving my position. If there are any openings when I return in August, I’d be very interested in talking to you about them.” Maybe the company values you enough that they offer the unpaid time as a compromise to keep you. But it would have acknowledged the reality that this is a *big* ask that, at most companies, would be a dealbreaker, and would have put you in a position of strength. Your manager clearly didn’t see it that way when you initially asked, so maybe your company is different — but for other commenters considering doing the same, that’s what I’d recommend.

    Either way, have a wonderful trip.

  43. Lady Phoenix

    I think MommyMD got this, but it is really irritating the OP is going on about how she “doesn’t need this job” and flippant she is about quitting over this. She sounds a bit bratty and entitled to me.

    I know we should be treating OP’s nicely here, but the OP certainly is giving her employment the same courtesy.

    If you truly want to be in the company’s good graces, then change the travel plans and give them a hand — or at least train someone.

    Otherwise, just quit and realize how much this is gonna hurt you when you come back in need of a job.

    1. Eye of Sauron

      I’ve been really trying to figure out a way to phrase this same thought I came close with a comment above about the OP bristling under authority…

      The OP sounds either naive or unrealistic in their expectations. Look I get it, I’d love to be in a position that meant I could take an extended time off, at the same time, I understand that my employer is paying me to do my job. That entails being available when they want me to do the job. I don’t get to choose when it’s convenient nor do I get to say ‘gee there’s something more interesting I’d rather be doing for the next couple of months’ just like they don’t get to say ‘we have better things to spend money on the next few months than your salary’.

      I’m still very much shocked that they agreed to the leave in the first place and you’re right it does come off as entitled or naive to see the OP quibble about start date requirement.

      1. Bea

        I’ve had accommodating work conditions most of my life so them agreeing doesn’t shock me.

        However I’ve seen my former bosses be just as generous and understanding only to be met with a tantrum similar to this post. So that’s why I’m so prickly right now. Business isn’t a game you just put down and pick up when it suits you. It’s many of our lives and if you don’t respect it and can throw around that you don’t need the job, do us a solid and bounce into your cushy savings account life.

      2. Vauxhall Prefect

        But you absolutely do get to choose what is convenient for you as an employee. If the OP is right about not needing the job then prioritising the holiday over the job is a valid choice.

        I think OP needs to think long and hard about whether she wants to burn a bridge at somewhere she seems to have worked successfully at for several years. But you absolutely get to decide when you leave a job, and if you’d rather have time off at an exact point rather than having a job when you get back that’s a choice you can make. It doesn’t sound like OP is naive in this respect, she’s clear that she realised she might need to resign to get this time off. I think any naivety is over how much time is sensible to give yourself for possible delays at the end of a project.

      3. EG

        I actually think you’re misreading a bit the OP’s irritation. The OP is irritated that they won’t let her work remotely and she doesn’t really understand why — she’s willing to do it, she is willing to “keep normal work hours” (which I take to mean deal with the time change on our her end), the office has other remote workers in similar positions, and she successfully works remotely on a regular basis. That’s a bit different than saying she doesn’t care and just wants what she wants and is quibbling about the start date. She actually is somewhat willing to compromise (albeit, perhaps not quite as much as the company is asking and their ask does not seem to be unreasonable, but I think has may be not been adequately explained).

        And I’m not that surprised they will let her leave. I know plenty of organizations that are willing to give people sabbaticals, especially when the work is skilled, the training requires a multi-month investment, and the organization is either growing (and therefore always hiring) or won’t be able to effectively fill the position in the window the person is asking for off. 2 months of not having someone can create problems, but it may be cheaper and better in the long-run than losing them entirely. Even if someone asked for two months off on my team in the busiest season, I would be frustrated but probably cave if they were reliable and usually effective. I work in a civil service environment where it would be 6 months to replace them and another 3-6 months to make them useful….

    2. alana

      Framing this as a question of “the importance of family” also sticks in my craw a little. This isn’t actually her family; it’s her future in-laws and her fiancé’s friends. I cannot imagine she *needs* two months off in order to meet those people, and framing it as if she does denigrates people who really do need extended time to travel for family reasons. If she were the one who immigrated, and if she hadn’t seen her parents in years and they lived somewhere difficult and expensive to get to (which doesn’t describe most of Europe from the US), I’d say the employer should be more compassionate about her need for leave. What she’s asking for is a vacation.

      1. alana

        Not saying that meeting her fiancé’s family isn’t important. Just that two weeks or even a month, from the US, is usually enough time to spend plenty of time with people in Europe, even spread out over multiple locations. I have several friends with partners of a different nationality, and I don’t think any of them have ever spent two consecutive months with their in-laws. (Heck, most people who marry people of the same nationality don’t do that.)

    3. Vauxhall Prefect

      I don’t think this is really a fair interpretation. From my read of the situation it doesn’t sound like OP has told her boss she doesn’t need this job, but rather is providing that information to Alison. I agree that it would sound a little petulant to be telling the job she doesn’t need them, but the fact that OP is quite happy to leave the job is important context for what options she has now things have reached this point.

        1. Vauxhall Prefect

          I get that, but can see how I may have been unclear. I’m saying I don’t think OP acknowledging to us that she doesn’t need the job is a bad thing. I think OP telling her boss she doesn’t need the job would be a bad thing. OP not needing the job is useful context when asking people for advice on what to do now, it would be a bit petulant to be bringing up when discussing the situation with her boss.

  44. Layne

    My employer has a policy of allowing one week notice for each day of the vacation request. So, one (planned) day off = let manager know one week ahead. 5 planned days, 5 weeks notice. 60 days of leave would equal about 5 months notice. 2 months is WAY too short, imo.

    1. Jill

      That’s an interesting formula. Are there exceptions for unplanned situations where you need some time off on short notice?

    2. Popcorn Lover

      That seems like a good rule of thumb, at least for the more standard 1-2 week vacations. However, 60 days of leave -> 60 weeks -> 15 months, not 5. (But also, 2 months’ vacation is actually only about 45 working days -> 45 weeks -> 11 months…. Still seems off.)

      1. Jules the Third

        I did it – didn’t have dates nailed down, but started talking to my boss about it a year in advance.

    3. nonegiven

      5 months is 21 weeks, 42 weeks might be ridiculous [2 months = 60 days total, (60/7) * 5 = 42 work days]

  45. designbot

    I think this negotiation between LW and the boss is getting more tense because each doesn’t recognize where the other is coming from. LW’s boss doesn’t know that she’s ready to flip the table and leave if she doesn’t get this thing, so they are attempting to put some parameters around this that make it reasonable for their business. LW doesn’t seem to recognize that to the bosses, this is a major disruption from the norm and they assume LW wants to stay. Remember that LW: **they assume you want to be there** and are operating as though you’re motivated to make it work for them too.

    1. Bea

      In most instances a savvy boss knows denying or putting in a counter offer may lead to the employee leaving. That’s why I’ve never known many to push back unless they’re prepared for a person to walk away.

      Honestly someone asking for 2 months for this trip to meet future inlaws would have me considering what happens when the OP emails 1.75 months later saying they’re going to stay in Europe instead of ever returning.

      1. Ennigaldi

        That’s a big stretch. This isn’t like going on maternity leave, when you could easily decide you want to stay home – it’s immigration, which is a whole new headache and leads to months or years of unemployment. “Assume you want to be there” sure, but when you are chasing a moving target, which is what this type of project is, ambiguity and last minute launch dates ARE the norm. Management has to realize that their employees have lives, that THEY were the ones who picked the LW to be essential to this project, and that employees’ personal plans, which may very well be time-sensitive and important, can’t be put on hold because one factor changes and everyone needs to recalculate the timing two weeks before launch.

        1. LadyPhoenix

          Except that, once again, the OP gave them a very short notice.

          If the OP told them at the latest January, then I can see how the company could be unfair.

          BUT… the OP decided to let them know too lae, is leaving a massive project, and is bulking at working for two weeks. I think even the most patient of managers would be suffering from “short fuse syndrome” at such a blatantly selfish and blase employee.

        2. designbot

          The notion of holding it against them that they picked OP to be essential to this project is a very odd one to me, and strikes me as tone deaf in just the same way OP is being. From a management perspective, we typically have folks clamoring to take the lead on projects, to be given more responsibility, for us to recognize how key they are… and here’s a company that’s handed OP the opportunity that employees beg for year after year, and somehow they’re supposed to know that this is an imposition on LW, not a welcomed thing? Without her ever telling them that she’s considering leaving? I just don’t see how a reasonable employer is supposed to fathom how she’s feeling about this based on what she’s told them.

  46. Vauxhall Prefect

    I think Alison’s advice is bang on now that you’ve gotten to this point. Don’t get caught up with whether to feel aggrieved or not over how the manager is handling this, it sounds like she’s just trying to do what’s best for her company. Your choice now is ultimately a fairly simple toss up between standing firm on the dates you’ve booked (and likely burning a bridge at work) or doing whatever you can to postpone your trip by a couple of weeks. If you do postpone your trip you probably want some agreement in writing over when the manager is happy for you to be gone by, you don’t want to need to keep on re-negotiating the holiday dates.

    1. Vauxhall Prefect

      Meant to also say that I don’t think only giving two months notice of the holiday is as egregious as a lot of the other commenters seem to though. If OP was expecting work to accommodate the request then I’d agree, but OP sounds totally prepared to walk away from the company after this project finishes.

      Where I do think OP has made a mistake is in not anticipating more possible delays at the end of the project. Leaving while a project you’re on is finishing off is certainly liable to leave a bad taste in the mouth. So if OP really intended to finish this project off before leaving then she should have allowed a couple more weeks as a contingency. But if the project end dates have just kept pushing out then this might have been difficult to correctly predict.

  47. Jill

    Add me to to those who think the OP’s request of two months off with only two months of notice is ridiculous. You can’t make inflexible plans for a trip and then wait 4 months to ask for the time off. Well you can, but you have no right to complain if your plans get screwed up because they won’t give you the time off.

    But since OP made it clear they are unwilling to change the dates and is willing to quit over this, there is only one thing left to do: tell the tell the boss that they are not able to work past May 15 (or whatever day they can work up to) unless they can work remotely. And if working from overseas is not an option, then they are giving their notice.

  48. WeevilWobble

    Commenters self-righteousness is at an all time high with this one. Dude gave two months notice for a long trio understanding he may have to quit. You’d think he murdered his boss’s bunny here.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      People are pointing out that this is a rather unprofessional way to conduct oneself. And OP seems less inclined to quit at this point which is why they wrote to Alison for advice.

      1. WeevilWobble

        No, people are piling on and being sanctimonious. And two months is not that insane. No one here would expect a business to give six months notice at a drastic change in schedule.

        And he doesn’t seem less willing to quit. He said he wants to be professional.

        1. Jill

          He absolutely is less willing to quit. He said if they didn’t give him the time off, he’d quit. Now that they told him he can’t have the time off, instead of quitting, he’s arguing with them about working remotely. At this point, he can still give a month’s notice of leaving, which is very professional.

          And yes, asking to take two months off on two months’ notice is that insane, especially when you made the plans four months ago.

  49. Librarygal30

    I got hired at CurrentJob in September, and have travel plans for end of May, beginning of June. I told my boss in January that I would be gone for 2 weeks, requested the time off in February and was approved for it the same day. I’m probably going to be using all of my vacation, sick days, and personal days to do it, but I have to be there; plans were in place before I ever signed on to the company. It’s a slow time at work, so they are fine with me going. As long as I take lots of pictures, and use some to decorate the space, all is well in this neck of libraryland.

  50. Quickbeam

    I’m still stuck on 8 weeks off…..where was my guidance counselor. I need to take a blood oath to get 2 weeks off. If I asked for 8 weeks off without a limb falling off, I’d assumed to be retiring. Glad the world is changing and allowing such things.

  51. Ennigaldi

    Okay, I see a lot of people piling on about the “short notice” when you’d planned this vacation. Let me offer a little perspective. I was hired 15 months ago to help complete a major database project/changeover. During my interview, the launch date was mentioned as before June 1. When I started, we were looking at mid-July. When I asked for time off for my first vacation (my spouse is also a UK citizen and we needed more time than usual to visit family), I timed it after our launch date which had been moved to the end of August. When I returned, it was early December. Now, in mid-April, our launch date has moved again from March to July. It’s a moving target and there is no way, with a major project of this kind, to know exactly when the “drop dead date” is. So yes, it is reasonable to plan a vacation months in advance, not feel the need to tell your manager until it’s closer to the vacation time, and then find that priorities have changed with your project and you might be needed EIGHT WHOLE WEEKS after you thought you would be done. This is VERY common with major software/database changes, and I think it’s unfair to place blame on the LW for not divining the true launch date.

    1. Matt

      This, this and this again! I’m a software developer, and while I never had the situation of planning a vacation of two months, even two weeks are difficult because in project work dates are moving … and moving … and moving. I try my best to plan my vacation at the ideal time during the year, but it’s a sure bet that about one or two weeks before my vacation I’ll see that things have changed again and Something Very Important will take place during my absence. (Once I was away for three weeks, and by the end of the first week I was called by my desperate coworker if I was able to come in and help her out on one day during the second week …) It’s just not possible to plan any vacation with some advanced notice (as needed for booking hotels, flights, …) without risking being the bad guy who’s always away during critical times.

    2. Mary

      It is true, if she was quitting she would give 2 weeks notice, but she actually gave 3 months notice, so her company need to decide if they want her back after her leave or get a replacement trained now. A lot of drama over nothing, people quit all the time for lots of different reasons, and make work complex for those left.

      1. Jill

        But she hasn’t given notice that she’s quitting. She’s trying to negotiate working remotely. As far as we can tell, she’s never told them she will quit if they don’t let her do it.

    3. Jules the Third

      It’s not about not divining the true launch date, it’s about not working with OP’s employer to develop contingency plans.

      Yeah, there’s a lot of variability and delays, but mgmt can’t develop plans when they don’t have all the info.

    4. sleepy anon

      This! So many commenters don’t seem to be in the industry here and aren’t recognizing the situation from that POV.

    5. Project Hopping Teapot

      The point is: the launch date is completely irrelevant to how much notice you give before taking long vacations. No matter the industry. I come from an industry where projects regularly get pushed back weeks or even months and the schedule can be really unpredictable. Two years ago, I tried to schedule my 2 weeks to start after the end of my project, but they ended up extending it, so I couldn’t be there.

      And you know what? No one cared, because I had applied for that vacation two months in advance, so my manager had ample time to come up with a contingency plan.

      It literally does not matter when OPs project started/ended/got delayed/etc. As a general rule of thumb, ask for written confirmation of vacation time one month per week in advance (i. e. if you want two weeks, ask two months in advance, if you want eight weeks -> eight months, etc.).

    6. Shiara

      I do work in the industry, and yes, of course projects slip, sometimes unpredictably depending on the circumstances. And I think OP should have given more notice for a two-month vacation.

      In fact, I think most of the complaints aren’t that OP didn’t magically divine that her planned two month trip would start two weeks after a major roll out, but that OP didn’t start talking to her boss about a two month trip until it was two months out. That’s just not a lot of notice for a trip of that kind, period. Getting approval for the trip earlier would have let both OP and her boss make better contingency plans around the project’s slippage.

      OP asks for two months off with plenty of time post projected roll-out, boss gives permission -> project slips -> Boss pressures OP to change dates, OP refuses, is a much more reasonable and better look for OP than Project Slips -> OP asks for two months off in two months beginning two weeks post projected roll-out -> Boss/HR pressures OP to change dates, OP refuses.

      1. Jill

        Right. And again, the OP still has not told boss that she is willing to quit if she can’t work remotely. The OP is coming at it from the standpoint that the options are: “either I work remotely or I quit.” Boss is thinking “HR won’t let OP work remotely so she will have to push her vacation back.”

  52. FaintlyMacabre

    Not that it matters, really, but I am curious- is partner already overseas, or did they have to give notice to their job for this trip and when/how did they do it?

  53. Jules the Third

    A clue, but not definitive on the tax / visa thing:

    It looks to me like OP now can use a UK Standard Visa for supporting the roll-out. The Visitor Rules link includes the following as ALLOWED for short-term visit, up to 6mo:

    “6 An employee of an overseas based company may:
    (a) advise and consult;
    (b) trouble-shoot;”

    per some posts I saw, OP USED TO need a Business Visit Visa (may also be known as a level 2 visa) to work remotely, legally, for *any* time in the UK, but the Standard Visa explicitly replaces this. So the boss may be working from an outdated reason for saying OP can’t work remotely in the UK.

  54. Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate

    A guideline I heard and liked from someone else’s office was that time off should be requested/informed about approx. 4x the duration of the time off beforehand. So an afternoon off for a doctor’s appt could be taken with a few days’ notice, but a two week vacation should have two months’. This was a tiny place with unlimited PTO though.

  55. Marcy Marketer

    I know a lot of people are giving this letter writer a hard time, but at the end of the day, if the employee gives two weeks notice, the company will not have anyone in place with the specialized knowledge for the launch at all— at least if they let the LW work remotely, they’d have someone in some capacity. What if the LW went on FMLA? They would have to find a way. It’s a little unfair to keep delaying a project and keep the lead indefinitely unable to make major life plans.

    1. mf

      Agreed. People leave their jobs all the time because they disagree with their employers on the terms of their employment (for example: they want a raise but their boss denies the request). This is really no different.

  56. mf

    LW, I’m a bit more sympathetic to your situation than most other people here. Sure, you probably should’ve asked for this leave earlier, but the fact that you’re willing to quit if you doesn’t get it really simplifies things. I get that your employer might be mad if you left over this, but… really, you could leave at any time, so they should be prepared for that.

    If I were you, I’d go back to your boss and say, “I’m sorry, I don’t think I can make your proposal work. Are you sure there’s no way we can make X work instead?”

    Since you’re willing to walk away over this, if (when) they say no, then you can resign. “I’m really sorry, but I can’t make that work. Thank you for trying to find a compromise. Because we can’t seem to agree on this, I think it’s best I resign. Since we’re discussing this 2 months in advance, hopefully that will give me plenty of time to leave my team in a good position to cover for me when I’m gone.”

  57. SleeplessInLA

    I’m sorry but this letter reeks of entitlement to me. FWIW, I’ve been in situations where I didn’t need a job so get it on a minor level but from what OP describes: this job and project are a huge deal and considering that, the tone is really flippant.

    1. It seems pretty standard that for a major roll out that’s it’s preferable (barring extreme circumstances i.e. not a vacation) to have OP on-site, readily accessible.

    2. A 2-month vacation is a tall ask and OP knows this since she/he admitted that they’d already mentally prepared for a “no.”

    3. OP got a “yes” and is now pitching a fit over the stipulations?

    The manager seems completely reasonable to me and per Allison’s reply “If something goes wrong, she’d probably have a hard time defending to her own higher-ups why she okayed having the project’s point person out of the country during the roll-out.”

    When it comes down to it, OP doesn’t seem invested in the current job and/or importance of the project so it might be better off for all parties for OP to resign (and I say this because I was fine with my former job until something didn’t go my way then it was “I don’t even need this job!”).

  58. jody call

    lolwut? take 2 months vacation to “visit friends and family” and only tell your employer at the last second that you want to skip out on the implementation of a big project?

    i would be looking to exit you. you’re a clear risk with a big gap in judgement. watch for things like them asking you to “transition” knowledge, support, etc. you’ll probably return from “visiting friends and family” unemployed.

  59. ZucchiniBikini

    I’m in Australia, so things are a bit different here, but a few thoughts…

    I have taken long blocks of leave in the past – three lots of maternity leave (the timing of which was obviously dictated by the birth of babies!), one lot of long service leave (which some Australian employees get after 10 years’ continuous service with government and private sector employers over a certain size – you get 8 weeks paid leave) and three unpaid leave blocks ranging from 4 weeks to 3 months.

    In all but one case, I had to give at least 4 months’ notice for any leave over 3 weeks in length. The one exception was my 3-month leave without pay block which I was granted with short notice due to a family health crisis that arose with no warning, and my employer was very understanding (you don’t choose the timing of a critical illness and treatment for a child – very thankfully, everything came out well). Frankly, I found it more than reasonable that my employer needed a lot of notice for long absences, and there was definitely negotiation around start and finish dates of leave, which I also found reasonable.

    The only time I would’ve quit my job if they couldn’t accommodate me for long leave was when my daughter was sick, but they are wonderful about that and I had no problems. Any of the other times – for vacations, or just family time – I was willing to be as flexible as I could be, because at the end of the day, employment is a mutual obligation, and I have duties to behave honestly, diligently and ethically to my employer just as they should have to me.

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