Life Advice



Ask Amy: Employee uses PTO to go AWOL

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: I have managed many work teams throughout my professional career and enjoy it very much. I generally try to find the good in each employee, appreciate their strengths, and accommodate individual personality quirks in order to foster a culture of tolerance in order to accomplish team goals.

However, one employee's "quirk," is increasingly irritating to me. She does not ask permission to take time off, but instead tells me when she'll be taking time off. This happens for advanced-notice vacation time as well as short-notice emergency time. For example, she recently texted me in the morning, that she would be leaving at 1:00 p.m. that day.

This employee does excellent work. She is friendly, reliable, competent, and does not abuse her earned paid leave time.

Am I being too sensitive? Am I wrong in thinking that employees should respectfully ask their supervisors for permission to take time off? (I have never denied an employee time off.)

Should I let it go because she's such a great employee? I don't want to upset her, but I find this practice annoyingly passive-aggressive.

I also don't think it's fair to other employees who ask my permission to take time off.


– Miffed Manager

Dear Miffed: If your employee declares to you when she is taking time off and you are worried about being “too sensitive,” as well as the prospect of “upsetting her,” then I’d say she has you right where she wants you.

Do you have a company policy about scheduling (non-emergency) time off? If not, then you should enact one. Here is some sample language for PTO (paid time off): “To take PTO requires two days of notice to the supervisor and Human Resources unless the PTO is used for legitimate, unexpected illness or emergencies.”

And then you should enforce it.


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