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I work in a typical 9-5 office and my working days are Monday - Friday. I asked my boss for a 2 week vacation which will be 10 working days to travel for a wedding. He said it doesn't count as 10 days because he considers the weekend which are my non-working days as part of my vacation time. He said my vacation will total 14 days and he won't allow it. I already had this planned out and paid for.

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – feetwet
    Jul 20, 2022 at 19:12
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    "my vacation will total 14 days and he won't allow it": he won't allow it because it's purportedly 14 days? Why does the determination that the vacation is 14 days lead to the decision to withhold approval?
    – phoog
    Jul 21, 2022 at 10:49
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    Lifehack: Tell your boss you're only taking M-F and the next M-F off. 10 days. Jul 21, 2022 at 15:30
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    That sounds bizarre. If your company is large enough to have someone to whom you can appeal your boss's interpretation of the request (typically an HR department, but maybe just your boss's boss) then it might be worthwhile to take it up with them. Even so, that might not be availing: although they might agree that the appropriate measure of your vacation would be working days, that doesn't necessarily mean that your boss is obliged to agree to the request. Jul 21, 2022 at 20:19
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    I've been trying to think how this would not be considered ridiculous... Does the boss count other weekends as vacation days? Is that applied to himself? Are vacation days specified differently in your contract than his? The only thing I could think of is if on 'non-vacation' weekends you either work sometimes or are required to be on-call and won't be on-call during your vacation... Having 'days' be the amount and counting days you would normally have off should be against any employment agreement you've signed or policy the company has. Jul 21, 2022 at 21:00

5 Answers 5

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Since this is a board about law, the legal answer is that New Jersey does not regulate vacation pay:

In New Jersey, employers are not required to provide employees with vacation benefits, either paid or unpaid. If an employer chooses to provide these benefits, it is only required to comply with its established policy or employment contract.

The specific law cited by that web page is this one, which says that "Nothing in this chapter requires an employer to pay an employee for hours the employee is not required to be at his or her place of work because of holidays, vacation, lunch hours, illness and similar reasons."

So whether your boss can count weekend days as part of your vacation will depend on your employment contract and the established policies of your employer. Unfortunately, that's not something this forum can provide advice on.

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    The legal aspect would be contract interpretation law, interpreting the contractually agreed provisions of the employment contract (probably an oral contract with written employer policies on some things) as pertain to vacation days. This forum can provide advice on contract interpretation in light of likely provisions of that oral agreement.
    – ohwilleke
    Jul 20, 2022 at 17:31
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – feetwet
    Jul 20, 2022 at 19:13
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    @ohwilleke: That's fair. I was mainly pointing out that this forum can't provide "specific legal advice" concerning how a specific contract will be interpreted and what the OP's best course of action is. Jul 20, 2022 at 21:04
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    I agree with this in terms of law, but the practice described by the OP is very much not normal for the USA. Every job that I've had here that offered vacation days only required me to use them on days I would otherwise have been required to report to work. So, for a normal M-F job, taking a vacation from Fri-Mon would count as two vacation days, not four. In a year in which Christmas fell on a Wednesday, taking Dec 24-26 off would also count as two vacation days, since we already got Dec 25 off. In other words, a vacation day was a "get out of work free" card. No work that day, no card. Jul 21, 2022 at 14:59
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This makes no sense to me. As you said, the weekends are not working days. So you don't need to request those days off, you already get them.

And even if he can include the weekend in the middle of the vacation, I don't see how he justifies counting one of the weekends at the end as well, so it should be at most 12 days, not 14. If you took a 1-week vacation, would they include one of the weekends adjacent to it as well, calling it 7 days instead of 5? Why shoukld any weekend count as vacation time just because it happens to be right around an actual vacation?

They should only count the number of days that you would have been working but won't be because of the vacation. I think your boss is trying to pull a fast one on you.

Other answers have suggested that you check your employment contract. While it's theoretically possible that it confirms what your boss says, only the most cruel employer would actually write that into a contract. How many people would actually agree to such a contract? You'll never get high quality employees that way, only the most desperate (unless the company has significant compensating benefits). You should ask your boss to show you where it says this in the contract or company handbook.

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Depends on Jurisdiction

In , holidays are calculated based on your ordinary weekly working days. In fact, we distinguish between workdays (Arbeitstage) and calendar days. It gets even more complicated as technically Saturday is part of the Werktage (working days) but not an Arbeitstag (work day) for all people - Werktag is all days Monday to Saturday while Arbeitstag is any day you are ordinarily Working. A workweek also usually only contains 5 Arbeitstage out of 6 Werktage, but there are regulations when it can be 6/6 and how many hours you may have within that timeframe before violating law... It is starting to get tangential... Back to the question.

How are vacation days calculated?

First of all, vacation is bound to the number of actual work days you have in contrast to the average model employee as dictated by the Bundesurlaubsgesetz - federal vacation law. This law dictates that you have to have at least 24 workdays for vacation for a 6-day workweek. This worker that has all the Werktage as Arbeitstage is the basis for calculation of all other vacations: if your workweek has fewer days, you get proportionally fewer vacation days.

Nowadays, the ordinary employee has a 5-day work week with 5 Arbeitstagen out of the 6 Werktage and gets to have 20 vacation days accordingly. If you work even fewer days, the vacation day allocation is calculated accordingly. Effectively, the law is made in such a way that it offers any employee a minimum of 4 weeks of vacation time a year.

These vacation days have to be allocated to a week in the manner how the workweek is usually structured. Let's assume the month starts on a Saturday.

Adam works usually Monday to Friday. He takes 5 vacation days from Monday 3rd to Friday 7th. He only needs to show up on Monday the 10th. He has 15 of his 20 vacation days left.

Barbara works Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. She takes off her three working days (Mon 3rd, Wed 5th, Fri 7th) in the same week as Adam. She gets the same effective vacation length. However, she only had 12 vacation days for the year, and now only 9 are left.

Both still have enough vacation left to repeat such effectively 9-day vacations 3 more times. But it can get more complicated:

Clara works Wednesday to Friday just so that we start the vacation on the 1st again. She too takes off her workdays in the same week as Adam and Barbara, for 3 vacation days (Wed 5th, Thu 6th, Fri 7th). Like Barbara, she only has 9 vacation days left after the vacation. However, she only has to return to work on Wednesday the 12th, because that's the first ordinary workday after the vacation days she took. Due to her Work days being usually together, her vacation was used more efficiently than Adam and Barbara - something that leads to the intricacies of German employees planning their vacations:

Intricacies of German vacation planning:

Holidays

Vacation planning in Germany is complicated by a few more things. Especially holidays. These are days off that are mandatory, don't cost vacation days, and can lead to having off quite more bang for your buck if the vacation days are placed accordingly - and they fall to the right weekdays.

Let's take December. 25th and 26th are holidays, so no vacation days need to be deducted for those. If they fall on a Saturday and Sunday, there is generally barely a benefit to most employees - in fact, to get the whole "9 days" off starting on Saturday to the next Sunday costs the full 5 vacation days.

But if they both fall into the ordinary work week of Monday to Friday, having off the effective "9 days" (Saturday to next Sunday) around Christmas only costs 3 vacation days for the 5-day worker.

Werks/Betriebsferien

Some companies say "screw it, we don't work from X to Y, because everyone wants to be away for [reason]" and thus mandate vacation time during that time. This is common around Christmas in many smaller companies, and for Volkswagen in the summer. These company-mandated vacations are taken from the employees' vacation allowance, but calculated including the holiday rules (holidays don't cost vacation days). Such company vacation time is well pre-plannable, and at times might contain an extra vacation day that the employer does not deduct from the vacation quota, but that is generosity of the employer and not mandated.

Special case: Teachers & Schulferien

A special case of vacation is people employed in schools. About half to 3/4 of these are not just employed but have the status of official (Beamte). Neither of the teachers, employed or officials, gets vacation days. They instead get time off by order during the state-mandated school holidays. Not the whole time, because usually some days are still required to be worked for conferences. Teachers effectively get more days off in the year than any normal employees, but have no ability to take vacations when they want at all.

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  • "the person having 3 Working days a week only gets 3/5th of the holiday quota of the 5 working days person under the law": it's worth underscoring that if the second person has 20 days available and the first person has 3/5 of that, 12 days, they can both take a four-week vacation.
    – phoog
    Jul 21, 2022 at 10:47
  • @phoog explained, yes. The effect is that effectively, everybody can get a 4-week (+ some sundays/Holidays) of vacation
    – Trish
    Jul 21, 2022 at 10:53
  • Great answer for German law, thanks :-) Jul 21, 2022 at 12:54
  • I think for most Beamte (the ones who are not teachers) the Bundesurlaubsgesetz applies? At least, as an Angestellter of the German federal government, I have never noticed a difference in vacation between myself and my Beamte colleagues.
    – gerrit
    Jul 22, 2022 at 9:08
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    So, the number of vacation days everyone gets is relative to the number of days per week they work, and the vacation days are only spent on actual working days? I.e. even if a Saturday is an Arbeitstag but you never work on Saturday, it doesn't affect the calculation, right? As in, you still get the same number of full weeks off.
    – ilkkachu
    Jul 22, 2022 at 9:10
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I asked my boss for a 2 week vacation which will be 10 working days to travel for a wedding.

So you asked for 2 weeks off.

He said it doesn't count as 10 days because he considers the weekend which are my non-working days as part of my vacation time.

I mean, that's nice. But you asked for 2 weeks off, not 10 days.

He said my vacation will total 14 days and he won't allow it. I already had this planned out and paid for.

Well, this is the crux of your issue. The semantic question on what days count as vacation days doesn't matter. After all, I assume you don't book a vacation every weekend for two days.

If your boss doesn't want you to take 2 weeks off, then nothing we say here, or nothing in the dictionary is going to help you.

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    It would be unusual for an employer to count days you don't ordinarily work (e.g. weekends) for a vacation request unless perhaps there's some nature of "on-call" in the position. Whether this would be properly called a 2 week or 10 day vacation depends on specific contexts.
    – eques
    Jul 20, 2022 at 13:50
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    No. I'm saying that 2 weeks can either be understood as 10 business days or 14 days depending on context. Ordinarily, if I requested 2 weeks off from management that would be understood as 10 days of PTO if 5 day work week was the norm.
    – eques
    Jul 20, 2022 at 16:45
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    @eques The alternative would really be 16 days (weekend/5 days/weekend/5 days/weekend). The boss picked 14 arbitrarily, I'm guessing as a way to deny the PTO. Or, the OP asked for 10 days without clarifying a 2 week time span and the manager needed OP to work both of the adjoining weekends. (Regardless I'd start looking for another job...)
    – Darren
    Jul 20, 2022 at 17:41
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    @eques No, if a typical work week is always Monday thru Friday, and someone requests ten days off, that means they'll be out of the office for 16 days. That's all I was saying. We don't know how the OP phrased their original request and people are making various assumptions. If the original request was for 10 days the manager could have assumed that was 10 calendar days and he could reschedule OP for weekends. FWIW I agree with you.
    – Darren
    Jul 20, 2022 at 19:42
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    Reminds me of an HRIS app that allows the submission with a date range and will also count weekends if selected, even if weekends are not working days, so the employee must submit 5 days per week 2 times, not 2 weeks (12 days) directly.
    – Andrew T.
    Jul 21, 2022 at 5:46
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If you want a funny anecdote, the general rule in Finland is that you have to spend allotted vacation days for Saturdays too, even if you only work the usual Mon-Fri schedule. It depends on the collective agreement, though, so not the same for exactly everyone.

A brochure on the Annual Holidays Act by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment states:

Annual holiday is earned in the form of weekdays and is also taken as weekdays. Weekdays are defined as days other than Sundays, church festivals, Independence Day, Christmas Eve, Midsummer Eve, Easter Saturday and the First of May. A full holiday week therefore consists of six days holiday (i.e. including Saturday) even if the employee works a five-day week.

The background of that is how in days of yore, the ordinary workweek was six days, Mon to Sat, and the number of allotted vacation days was based on that. When the transition to a five-day workweek was done, a sensible solution would have been to reduce the number of vacation days by 1/6 accordingly. But, as far as I understand, it wasn't done like that because it would have sounded like a really bad deal; a worker's organization that told their members they agreed to a deal that cut off the number of days off would face a riot.

So, instead of getting e.g. 25 vacation days and spending 5 days for a week off, you get 30 vacation days, and have to spend 6 days for a week off. It works ok as long as you take full weeks off, and the law does assume a continuous vacation time. (Or, actually, one in the summer and a shorter one in winter.) Meaning you can't take just Mon-Fri off and the same again the next week, unless your employer is very generous. If do get to take your vacation in shorter parts, it does get a bit complicated.

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  • In Germany, this is simlar. Unless otherwise defined in the contract, the definition used in §3(2) of the Federal Vacation Act is used: §3 (BUrlG) (1) Annual leave is at least 24 working days. ; (2) Working days are all calendar days that are not Sundays or public holidays. Jul 22, 2022 at 11:29
  • @MarkJohnson, hmm, ok. On a first glance, I thought that was what Trish's answer above was saying, but in the end it looked like they only calculated the actual working days without the insanity of counting days you're not working on anyway. The end result is the same for full weeks off, of course.
    – ilkkachu
    Jul 22, 2022 at 11:45
  • If you have 30 days stated in the contract without any workdays meantioned, then it is 5 calendar weeks (based on §3(2) BUrlG). If the contract states a 5 day week, then it is 6 calendar weeks. If nothing all is stated then it is 4 calendar weeks (§3(1,2) BUrlG). Jul 22, 2022 at 11:54

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