Ask Liz: How do I negotiate Christmas leave?

Ask Liz: How do I negotiate Christmas leave?
My manager is making me feel bad about asking for time off between Christmas and New Year. I have plenty of holiday days left and the office is always quiet during this time. I have even offered to work from home one of the days and keep an eye on my emails. They have given no real reason why I can’t have the time off so how can I put my case forward?

I must admit that I am a bit confused by this dilemma as your request seems to be a reasonable one to me. As you say, for most of us, most of the time, this is a relatively calmer time of year so I am left wondering why your request is a problem for your manager and on what basis you are not able to work from home. Normally agencies either close for the full period or remain open and run a skeleton staff. So I am not sure if you are the only one in the team who is not able to easily take your time or whether others are having the same problem?

I would want to know some more about the reasons behind your manager’s  decision. Are they just being awkward or is it because of a particular client need or is there a key campaign which is going out over the period which needs to be monitored? Are you the only one out of your team being asked to come in or are there others who need  to come in? Are other people in  your team working from home for this period? Have any agency notes gone around clarifying the position over cover for the holiday period? I think you need to check out what the rest of the team are up to and perhaps you can work it out between you all.

Some folk like to be in town at this time of year as it means they can get stuff done and make a quick trip to the sales. Others are quite keen to get away from all the tinsel and turkeys. I would do some homework and review the facts of the situation. I would then make your case to reassure them that nothing will fall over if you are off for x days as the team cover is y and you and others are at the end of a phone. The client also needs to know what level of cover is provided and who to call in an emergency. The contact names and numbers should be provided to them so that they too can enjoy the festive cheer. We all need a break, right? If there are personal reasons as to why you need the time off then you should explain these to your manager too. Your festive arrangements may be taking you away from London, or you have plans with your nearest and dearest that require you to be off.

If others are not having the same issues with getting their leave approved, I would take a trip to your HR Team and consult your staff handbook to understand what the holiday process is in your agency.  Make sure that you are not in breach of the request for leave rules. Prepared with this information you could then ask you manager what the real issue is. Failing all of that, make sure that you can carry over any accrued and untaken holiday into the new year. You need to move fast as Santa is almost here!

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