What To Do if Your Boss Denies Your Vacation Request

We know the feeling of working hard and looking forward to a time off. Having an outstanding work-life balance is crucial for one’s general well-being. We understand the frustration of having our vacation request denied; however, the good news is that there are several steps you can take to change that initial no to a yes.

If your boss denies your vacation request, speak to your boss to learn why. Do it in person, professionally, and show your boss the proper documentation that entitles you to the time off you deserve. Take the matter to HR if you’re having a hard time getting an answer.

There are several reasons your boss can deny your vacation request, and sometimes, these reasons could be legal. In the rest of this article, we will discuss the steps you can take to avoid getting your vacation request denied and how you can change the status from denied to approved.

Why Can Your Boss Deny Vacation Time Off Requests?

Under federal law, your boss can deny vacation time off requests, except under the Family Medical Leave Act. In addition, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission may allow employers to deny leave requests even for medical or religious purposes in certain circumstances.

Your employer has the discretion to deny you time off, even the legitimate accrued time you have earned, as long as he/she provides a reasonable explanation as to why.

However, although not required to offer vacation time under federal law, most companies provide their employees paid or unpaid vacation as part of their benefits to prevent burnout, reduce stress, improve productivity, and improve mental health.

Different companies have different vacation times depending on the company policy and state laws under which they are operating. Some companies offer paid or unpaid time off, while some companies even pay you for accrued vacation time you have not used.

How To Get Your Vacation Request Approved

Your boss can justify denying your vacation request, especially when the company is understaffed or over-taxed or when too many employees request a vacation at the same time. No matter the reason, there are several steps you can take to get your request approved. Keep reading to learn more about it.

Put Your Request at the Right Time

Yes, there is a right and wrong time to request paid time off. If you put in your request simultaneously with most of your colleagues, there is a high chance you might get a no.

It is crucial to avoid getting the initial no to your request by asking at the right time; you should start by planning to reserve your slot first and research your company’s vacation policy to follow the due process.

Another way you can get a jump on your time off is to request a vacation when you just completed a project. Your accomplishment will still be fresh in your boss’s mind, and this will make your request challenging to refuse.

Request for a Time Off Under FMLA

The Family Medical Leave Act allows employees that meet certain conditions to apply for and get unpaid work leave if they intend to use the period for solving medical or family issues. Your employer cannot legally deny your vacation request for a reason covered under the law. The FMLA allows you to get unpaid leave of up to 12 weeks annually to take care of family or health matters.

Ask Your Boss Why They Denied Your Request

Supposing you have followed due process and sent in your request through the proper procedure, and you still got a no to your request, you deserve to know why. It is okay to talk to your boss to find out why your request was denied.

Wait until you have a private moment before you speak to your boss calmly and respectfully, along with the documentation showing that you have accrued the correct amount for the time off and have also followed the due process for requesting time off.

In addition, before you talk to your boss, make sure you do not have any work obligations or that you have made arrangements for your responsibilities to be taken care of.

Allow Room for Compromise

When you talk to your boss, you must keep an open mind and listen to the reason for refusing your request. Your office may have a lot of work, or it could be understaffed, and if possible, you can work around delaying your vacation time.

However, sometimes your plans are essential as well, and you cannot put them on hold. It is not farfetched to demand the same understanding from your employer as well. This meeting aims for you and your boss to compromise the best time for your vacation.

Take The Matter To HR

When you have gone through all the steps mentioned above, and no reasonable solution is forthcoming, you can take the issue up to the human resource department.

A meeting with HR will clarify why the company has denied your vacation request. Your HR will also explain your company’s vacation policy. Usually, HR will suggest ways for you how to go about it. In some cases, getting your request denied is inevitable because your company is overwhelmed with work or understaffed, or you don’t have the accrued amount of time for a vacation.

Whatever the reasons your boss denies your vacation request, you, HR, and your boss can work around it to reach an understanding.

For some ideas of reasons why your boss/HR should approve your request, take a peak at our article on why vacations are so vital for health.


Most companies will provide vacation time off to their employees because they understand that their productivity will also increase when employees are happy. They understand that a good work-life balance is beneficial to them and their employees.

It’s unlikely for your employer to deny your vacation request without reason. Your boss likely denies your request due to a heavy workload or staff shortage.

When your boss denies your vacation request, you can take several steps to change that decision, like inquiring to determine why your boss denied your request initially or taking the matter to HR.


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