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Boss Tries To Cancel An Employee's Approved PTO Because They Need 'All Hands On Deck' After A Co-Worker Resigns

Photo: fizkes / Shutterstock
man upset messaging boss

A boss has come under scrutiny after attempting to dissuade an employee from using his approved time off because of an unexpected staff shortage.

In a TikTok video, content creator and business expert Michael Sanz, who often posts career tips, shared a conversation between a boss and his employee that elicited a strong reaction from viewers.

After a coworker resigned, the boss tried to cancel an employee's approved PTO because they needed 'all hands on deck.'

"You will not believe this message I've just been sent," Sanz incredulously began in his video. In a text to his employee Noel, a boss named Nick explained that his coworker, Jenny, recently resigned and Noel would need to cancel his upcoming approved leave because they would need "all hands on deck" to combat Jenny's sudden exit.

"We can push back a few months. I've advised HR, and it's now changed for you. Appreciate your understanding," Nick's message read. Sanz acknowledged that he already sounded like a bad boss, as he canceled his employee's leave without so much as a conversation. 



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In response, Noel admitted that it's likely frustrating for Nick to have to scramble and find someone to cover the work of an employee who suddenly resigned, but questioned why his boss had already informed HR that his leave had changed. He informed his boss that he was unable to cancel his trip since his brother was getting married in Bali, the tickets had already been paid, and his kids were in the wedding party.

He also pointed out that he booked this trip and gave notice seven months in advance. Still, he tried to compromise, writing that he would be able to help out more until he left for his trip, but could not change the leave dates. 

His boss tried to convince him to reduce the amount of time that he was gone instead. 

"I'm going to have to ask that you reduce your leave to fly in and fly out. Take 3 days over the weekend then instead of 3 weeks. Not sure what you can do for 3 weeks in Bali haha," Nick responded, clearly lacking sympathy or understanding for the situation that he was putting his employee in. 

Sanz inputted his opinion, insisting that he would've been furious if his boss messaged him in this way, acting as if this major demand was just a joke.

Boss Tries To Cancel An Employee's Approved PTO After A Coworker ResignsPhoto: fizkes / Shutterstock

Trying his best to resolve the issue, Noel reiterated that he was unable to adjust his trip and that he hadn't seen most of his family or taken leave in over 3 years. "Can you get a temp or 2? Who did you have to look after my portfolio while I was away? Hope it wasn't Jenny," Noel questioned. "Either way, you have me until I leave, so I can help out till then."

Sanz remarked that Noel was being more than reasonable and not argumentative in the slightest. However, his boss refused to adhere to his compromise, telling him in a follow-up text that his leave had been canceled and there was no getting around it.

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Frustrated, Noel replied, "I actually don't want to come back to work now. I'm going to take my leave earlier and will start from today. While away I will think about if working with a company that doesn't promote boundaries is a place I really want to work at."

Sanz praised Noel for putting his foot down and not allowing his boss to railroad over him, especially since it's a business' job to find replacements, temps, or whatever is needed when an employee resigns. The pressure shouldn't be on staff to scramble and find a solution, and it shouldn't hinder the life they have outside of the workplace.

Many employees don't take time off for fear of judgment or falling behind.

This boss-employee interaction is made even worse when you think about the number of employees who actually take PTO. According to the Pew Research Center, some 46% of U.S. workers who receive paid time off from their employer — whether for vacation, doctor’s appointments, or minor illnesses — take less time than they are allowed.

About half of those who don’t take all their time off (52%) say they don’t feel they need to take more. A similar share (49%) say they worry about falling behind at work if they take more time off.

Forty-three percent of say they’d feel bad about their co-workers taking on additional work, while 19% fear that it will hurt their chances at advancement and 16% believe they risk losing their job. Noel seemed to fall within the 12% whose supervisor discourages taking time off

An employee's PTO is theirs once it's approved, and to attempt to take it back is a slap in the face. It shows that a business doesn't care about its employees and whether or not they burn out or have a healthy work-life balance

If this is the case, it's no wonder that Noel feels as if he's no longer a fit for his workplace and desires to find a better fit with a more understanding boss.

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Nia Tipton is a Chicago-based entertainment, news, and lifestyle writer whose work delves into modern-day issues and experiences.