my employee won’t take time off — Ask a Manager


my employee won’t take time off

A reader writes:

I own a small company, just me and two employees who are salaried. Both of my employees have worked for me for over five years and I give them three weeks PTO each year plus three sick days. We also have paid holidays throughout the year. I am always open to them taking time off for an appointment, errand, or a personal day, and not taking it off their PTO if they make up the time that week (or the next). I don’t require this at all; they are always free to just take the time off, but they often make up the hours and save their PTO for real vacations. I don’t keep track of their daily work hours since they are salaried, as long as they get their assigned work done on schedule.

I have one employee, Emily, who can’t seem to relax and take her time off without working long hours to make it up. Even when she plans week-long vacations, she works long hours to make sure that she does not lose the entire week of PTO. Yesterday she took a sick day, and when I asked her how she was feeling the next day, she said she was better but thought she had gotten sick due to working long hours the last few days because she had requested a day off next week and wanted to make it up. I told her to just take the day off and not worry about making up the hours. She replied that she knew we were busy and she also has a week-long vacation coming up, so she was fine with working extra hours.

How do I get her to relax and take time off without stressing over making it up? Or, do I just let it be and rely on her to manage her own PTO and work hours as she sees fit? I don’t want to micromanage her time but I don’t want to see her get burned out on the job.

I answer this question — and three others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • Our staff chat all day long and it’s messing up their work
  • Can I rescind an agreement to let someone work from a different office?
  • The guy who insists on saying “good morning” individually to everyone



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