Skip To Content

    These 11 Employees Were Denied Time Off From Their Jobs, And Their Responses Will Get You Through The First Half Of 2023

    "This trip had been planned for six months, and it was for school credit. He told me I could either choose my job or Belize. I chose Belize."

    Though more companies are using benefits like greater or unlimited paid time off (PTO) to draw in potential workers, Glassdoor recently conducted a study that showed about 54 percent of professionals who do utilize their time off will often have a hard time disconnecting from work.

    Those surveyed reported worrying about time off resulting in a delay in their career advancement, as well as a sense of guilt that comes with being away.

    out of office written on sign board on sandy beach

    So, curious about other reasons why those who have PTO may be afraid of using it, I asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to share moments when they asked for time off and were met with a less than enthusiastic reply. Here's what they said:

    Some responses have been edited for length/clarity. 

    1. "When I was 17, I was working my first job at a fast food restaurant. I was going on a two-week trip to Belize for school and requested the time off three months in advance, and it was approved. The day before I left, my manager called me and said my time off was no longer approved because two people had just quit, so he needed me to work."

    "I told him 'no way' because this trip had been planned for six months, and it was for school credit. He told me I could either choose my job or Belize. I chose Belize."


    2. "I asked off way in advance for a summer beach trip with my family. The drive time was four-ish hours away. My boss took her sweet time approving it, and I followed up a few weeks away, then one week away."

    "Our assistant supervisor had been diagnosed with cancer, and he (understandably) needed one of the same days as my vacation days off so he could do chemo. Which is 100% more important, of course. 

    My boss told me she would let me know about the approval soon, but her sister was due to give birth that week, and she wanted to make sure she wouldn’t be induced during my vacation, so that SHE ALSO could take off. Well, of course, her sister was having her scheduled C-section on day one of my vacation, so she told me I could not have it off. 

    She abused her power of being manager to give herself the day off first, even though I clearly requested mine before her, and her sister was having her fourth baby. She could have very well visited the baby that evening; she didn’t need the day off. I wish now I would have said I’m not coming in that day either way." 


    3. "When I was about 20 years old, I asked for some time off to go see my favorite band. I was working in San Diego, and the concert was up near Sacramento. I asked for the time off way in advance and was approved. Then, the schedule came out for the week that I was going to be gone, and I was scheduled for the whole week."

    "So, I went to my boss and asked about it, and he said, 'Oh, I forgot about that,' but he wouldn’t change the schedule. 

    Now, my boyfriend was the one who got me into the band originally, so he had no problem with me quitting my job so we could go.

    It being the early 1990s, it was rather easy for me to find a job when we came back from the show. We had a blast."


    4. "I worked at Subway and was sick with strep. I had a really high fever and felt like garbage. I called my manager the morning I went to urgent care to let her know I was sick and going to get checked, but I wanted to give her a heads up in case they told me I couldn’t work. ... I gave her 8 hours notice."

    "When I tested positive, [the doctors] told me not to go to work until I was afebrile for 24 hours. I told my manager, and she called me back a few hours later and told me I have to come in — they would just put me in the back prepping food."


    5. "I had been working at a movie theater on and off for years while I went to college. I had recently restarted working there, but only on weekends. New management had taken over since I had last worked there. Apparently, they had started having early morning meetings on Saturdays that everyone was required to attend, but I wasn’t told about it. Apparently, at this meeting, they told the staff that everyone now had to request for holidays off, even if they weren’t part of your normal scheduled days."

    "I was unaware of this, so I didn’t request Thanksgiving off because I only worked there on weekends. The scheduling manager called me to ask when I wanted to work on Thanksgiving. I informed him I only worked weekends. He explained this new policy to me. I told him I only work weekends. He said I had to work Thanksgiving since I hadn’t asked for it off. I hung up on him."


    6. "The only maintenance worker at my husband's nursing home quit recently. He takes an annual fishing vacation to Canada, and has for 30 years. He had set his retirement day for December 31, and they refused his PTO request because he was leaving in less than a month."

    "He just handed in his keys and left. 

    They ended up sweet talking him into coming back until he could train his replacement since literally no one else knew how to take care of the building."


    7. "I was working an admin job when my grandfather passed away. I’m of Caribbean descent, and our family was returning him to his home country from the UK for burial, as per his wishes. I asked for a week off so I could attend his funeral (which I was entitled to do), and they refused."

    "They also refused any compassionate leave. 

    After a few days of them refusing every request, I told them I was going to my grandad's funeral, and that was that. So, I booked a flight to the Caribbean, attended his funeral, and never went back to that shitty job."


    8. "I had gotten approved time off for the week of my wedding. I was told that I had no more PTO, and I couldn't take unpaid leave for a honeymoon."

    "Now, I fully understand that, and the reasoning behind it, but the sparky-ass manager who told me that was very unsympathetic about it, and acted like I was asking for her damn firstborn child."


    9. "My husband worked in a factory when I learned I needed an operation. He went to his supervisor weeks ahead to let him know and request that day off. It was approved, and the day before my surgery, he reminded his supervisor of his upcoming absence."

    "His supervisor said, 'Sure, just make sure the shift lead knows.' So, he dutifully reported to the shift lead about the next day's absence and why. The lead said, 'Oh no, I can't give you tomorrow off.' 

    My husband said, 'My wife is having an operation, and I've gotten the day off approved by the supervisor. He told me to just make sure you knew about it.' 

    But the lead said, 'I said no. You cannot take tomorrow off. I need you here.'

    So, my husband said, 'Well, in that case, I guess I will take all the days off, starting now.'

    He turned and walked out on the spot. As he walked away, he heard the shift lead behind him hollering, 'WAIT, WAIT!' He ignored it. Hubs was with me for my operation, and every day, all day, while I recuperated. Then, he got a new job as soon as I recovered."


    10. "I was working full-time and going to school. On the first night of my new semester, I was on the waitlist for a class I needed to graduate. I had planned to leave work 'early' — early according to the office, which was 5:30 p.m., or my full eight hours — to ensure I was there on time. At 5 p.m., I was given a report that needed to be done today."

    "When I said that it will have to wait until the next day because I had to get to class, I was told that that doesn’t work for my boss, and I shouldn’t waste my time on stupid shit because I wasn’t smart enough. 

    It was either this job or school; I couldn’t have both. I walked out."


    11. "In college, I worked as a server at a restaurant. I lived in a small town in the northeast. One day, I was scheduled to work a double. I woke up to two feet of snow, so I told the manager I wouldn't make my shift because it always took a few days for the plow to come back to my road."

    "He threatened my job. I told him I couldn't break the laws of physics just to work at what was clearly going to be an empty restaurant that day. Then, I reminded him how easy it would be for me to get a job at literally any other restaurant in the area. He didn't fire me, but I quit."


    Now, I'm curious — have you ever had to quit due to an unreasonable boss? If you're comfortable sharing, tell me about it in the comments.