I discovered your blog too late this year, but hope that you have some advice to help me plan for next year. I supervise a department with 15 employees reporting to me. Under our vacation policy, only one employee at a time can be scheduled for vacation from July 15th through September 1st each year. (This is because of the special demands of our business – we are extremely busy during the restricted period. The rest of the year, any number of employees can be on vacation at the same time.) Employees who want to take vacation during the restricted period are allowed to reserve vacation dates up to one year in advance. Whoever reserves a date first gets to have it. Seniority is not a factor unless two people submit a request at the same time – which has never happened.
The problem involves August 16th . One of my employees has always taken that day off because it is the anniversary of when Elvis Presley died. My employee basically goes into mourning each year. She says she is too sad to work and I do not think she is kidding. The highlight of her life – according to her – was the year when she was able to “mourn” on August 16th at Graceland. Her screensaver at work is a photo of herself at Elvis’s grave site – wearing black and setting a bouquet on the grave.
This year, another one of my employees wanted a vacation that included August 16th so she could attend her high school reunion out of state. She requested the days off several months ago, but by then my other employee had reserved the date. (The Elvis Mourner always submits her vacation request on August 17th for the following year). I asked the Elvis Mourner to release the date since this was an important event for my other employee, but she flatly refused. She seemed mad at me for even asking. I think she was being unreasonable. The other employee missed her reunion and is no longer speaking to the Elvis Mourner. What can I do in the future if someone has a good reason for being away but the Elvis Mourner refuses to budge?
– Wants Fairness
Dear Wants –
You need to rewrite your vacation policy to say: “Employees may only take vacation if the supervisor thinks it is a good enough reason to be away. If you have a date reserved and someone has a better reason for taking vacation, your dates will be rescheduled. If you do not have a good enough reason to be away, you will have to keep working.”
I get it. Your employee was disappointed about her reunion. The problem isn’t your Elvis fan – it is the fact that the other employee did not reserve her vacation first. She may be upset that the other employee would not change her plans, but she needs to channel her inner adult and move on. Life is full of disappointments and not getting her preferred vacation date was one of them.
– Evil Skippy
I do not endorse Evil Skippy’s alternate vacation policy, but I agree that your disappointed employee should stop acting like a little kid. You need to be a supervisor and tell her to stop giving her co-worker the cold shoulder treatment.
As for the vacation conflicts, you already did almost all that you could have done by asking the Elvis fan to re-schedule. (You could also have checked with your manager to see if it would have been possible to make an exception to the one-person-away-at-a-time rule). Hopefully, you did not attempt to pressure the employee into releasing her vacation dates when you talked to her about re-scheduling. She followed your policy and reserved the dates, so she had the right to use or release the dates however she saw fit.