Boss Tells Worker He Can’t Take His Pre-Approved PTO — Then Cuts His Hours When He Refuses To Cancel His Vacation

He was shocked that his boss wasn't allowing him his rightful use of PTO.

frustrated employee denied pre-approved pto fizkes / Shutterstock

An employee admitted that he was baffled after his boss both reprimanded him for and refused to let him use his PTO. 

Posting to the subreddit "r/AmITheJerk" — an online public forum where individuals can share either personal anecdotes or conflicts that have happened to other people to see who was in the wrong — the 20-year-old man claimed that he and his boss, Susan, were involved in a bit of an argument after she told him that his PTO request was "last minute" after he'd already booked his vacation days.


She told her employee that he wasn't allowed to use his pre-approved time off.

In his Reddit post, he explained that he's been working in a store for the past two years and has never had any bad interactions or encounters with his boss until fairly recently. 

It started back in January 2024 when he decided to save up so that he could take a few days of vacation with the PTO that he has. As he started to make his plans and arrangements, he made sure to tell his boss that he had sent in a time-off request for a couple of days in May. She assured him that his days would be approved, and he had no reason to doubt her or think that they wouldn't end up getting approved in the first place.


"A few months go by and Susan calls me into her office and tells me, 'I’m sorry, but I had to deny your request to use your PTO in May because it was last second and we need you.' Now we have plenty of people to cover for me while I’m gone and the trip is still a little under a month away so there really shouldn’t be an issue of it being last minute," he recalled.

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Boss cuts worker's hours after he refuses to cancel vacation because his pre-approved time off was deniedPhoto: Ground Picture / Shutterstock


In response, he told Susan that he couldn't come to work in the first place since he'd already booked his days on vacation and would be out of town. 

It was something he'd planned for quite some time, and rightfully so, he should be allowed to enjoy his time off without the pressure or guilt of having to cancel the days in the first place just because his boss suddenly needed him in the store. As a manager, she should make the right accommodations to supplement his being gone for a couple of days, as that's in her job description. It's not his responsibility to ensure the store runs smoothly in his absence.

After calmly and politely telling her that he wouldn't be able to come in, he explained that his boss suddenly became aggressive and told him that his vacation didn't matter, but all of his co-workers were "useless." She told him that he didn't need to use his PTO in the first place and that the store needed him.

Again, it's not his problem that she feels his other co-workers don't do their job well. If that's the case, then she should either work harder at making sure they understand the role and responsibilities they need to complete or hire people who can actually do the job correctly. Being at work shouldn't be the focus of a person's life. There needs to be a balance of being able to take time off and either go on vacation or just relax at home. For some people, work isn't everything and it honestly should never be.


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She began cutting his hours after he refused to cancel his vacation.

"At that point, I’m baffled that she would say something like this because usually, she is very kind and understanding and understanding when someone needs a break. I responded with, 'Okay I understand that you want me to show up for those days but I still won’t be able to show up since I’ll be on vacation,'" he continued. 

Boss Cuts Worker's Hours When He Refuses To Cancel Vacation Because His Pre-Approved Time Off Was DeniedPhoto: Kateryna Onyshchuk / Shutterstock


After that interaction, he noticed that she'd begun cutting back some of his hours as retribution for him still using his PTO days in May. He pointed out that it seemed as if his boss simply ignored the heads-up he gave her about taking time off. 

He decided to take the issue up with Susan's boss, who gave Susan a warning about how she treated him in her office and refused to adhere to his approved time off. However, multiple people in the comments section advised him to just quit and find employment elsewhere, and he admitted he's begun looking at other places to apply and work for.

As it stands, many working-class Americans are often hesitant to use their PTO in the first place.

According to the Pew Research Center, around 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 offered. There are a variety of reasons why this is, but one of the top reasons is the fear that their boss will either guilt them into not using it or become agitated that they're requesting the time off in the first place.


Employees have a right to use their approved PTO, and denying them that right, or pressuring them into staying at work will just lead to unproductive and resentful employees. 

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