Whether I’m on vacation or using a sick day, I like to think of my PTO as time when I’m being explicitly paid to NOT work. Like, on those days, relaxing is my job.

A dog on a pool float

(Actual footage of me enjoying my vacation time to the very fullest.)

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But unfortunately, too many bosses out there treat employees’ vacation time like any other work day. Even worse, some bosses take it as a personal offense if workers aren’t available at their beck and call — no matter how many months in advance their PTO was requested.

Recently, u/dogmom200 shared a story in r/Antiwork about their boss’s reaction after work texts during vacation time went unanswered, and their experience stirred up a lot of conversation.

woman on the phone saying I'm on vacation we need to have bounaries

woman on the phone saying I’m on vacation we need to have bounaries

Fox / Via giphy.com

They wrote, “Over the holidays, I was on vacation time for two weeks. I ignored the calls, texts, and emails from my boss. Now, I’m back and have a meeting with HR. I don’t even know what to say!”

an employee speaking with HR

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After meeting with HR, they added an update to answer some questions and share what happened next. They wrote, “*UPDATE: I’m a junior employee with no company phone. HR says my boss feels ignored and was ‘worried about me’ since I didn’t respond while on vacation. He claims a third party had a question for me on December 22 (something that could have waited).”

a man yelling at his phone

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Finally, they said, “They gave me a ‘verbal warning’ because my egomaniac boss feels this is not the first time I’ve been ‘insubordinate’ to him 🤦‍♀️. I’m already applying to new places as we speak.”

woman saying I quit

woman saying I quit

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In the comments, people are sharing similar stories of bosses who simply can’t be bothered to respect peoples’ private time. One person wrote, “I once worked for a Fortune 100 company. SIX MONTHS before my vacation, I began notifying everyone of my upcoming two-week honeymoon and that I would be out and unavailable for those two weeks. I made sure that these notices were sent weekly along with my end-of-week reports to every division that I supported.”

woman working on a laptop while on a beach vacation with a nope sticker overlay beside her

The week before I was due to leave on the honeymoon, no less than six of the divisions asked me if I was going to have my laptop with me. They all freaked out when I told them no, and two of them asked my boss’s boss to cancel my PTO.

I returned to hundreds of emails, another department attempting to replace me by hiring someone else to do the same job I was doing, and managed to survive it all. Those six divisions got absolute meet-the-requirements-only minimum effort for the next two years I was there.

I eventually resigned about 18 months later, and my boss was fired about six weeks after I left.”

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Another person shared, “Had a district manager call me one time while I was on vacation about metrics. Like, Jesus fuck, I am FOUR STATES AWAY in New Mexico, so what are you wanting me to do about it!?!? You can easily take your 30-minute drive and walk in to speak to my supervisors or maybe…I don’t know…CALL THE STORE! Why is it always an emergency when you go on vacation?”

that sounds like a you problem

that sounds like a you problem

NBC / Via vacation&url=https%3A%2F%2Fgiphy.com%2Fgifs%2Fsnl-saturday-night-live-season-47-YdjlS7PjMACR6wJrjW&xcust=6910972%7CBF-VERIZON&xs=1″ data-ylk=”slk:giphy.com” class=”link “>giphy.com

On the other hand, some lucky souls are sharing how their companies do it right. One user wrote, “My husband’s company states that if you have to work at all on a vacation day (even a 15-minute phone call), you get another full day of PTO to make up for it.”

A mom and daughter taking a selfie

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Another person chimed in, “I’m in HR, and if a manager came to me complaining that he couldn’t get in touch with an employee while they were on PTO, I’d tell them to suck it up. I’d talk to the manager about the importance of making sure we could cover our business needs when key personnel are unavailable, and stress that the problem isn’t the employee but with a failure of management. And then, at my next department meeting, I’d tell the other HR people, ‘Can you believe what this knucklehead tried to do?'”

A man and woman talking at a desk

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Someone else shared, “Belgium has just activated a new law where it states that ‘work’ or ‘your boss’ can’t call you for work-related questions after working hours. There is an exception for time-sensitive and very high priority questions, but normal day-to-day work-related stuff should be kept for business hours. So, things are looking up.”

A person using their cellphone

Similar “right to disconnect” laws have been passed in other European countries and in Ontario, Canada. These laws are meant to protect workers’ personal time.

Westend61 / Getty Images/Westend61

And people are also sharing advice for the original poster. One user wrote, “Get it in writing what part of the employee handbook you violated. If you’re expected to be on call when on PTO, that needs to be spelt out.”

can I get that in writing

can I get that in writing

CBC / Via giphy.com

Someone else suggested a more audacious response. “Straight off the bat you should thank your boss and HR for the meeting, but say that your boss making a formal apology for harassment over your vacation is not needed as you know it won’t happen again.”

woman packing her suitcase

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And plenty of folks suggested that the OP should get ready to find a new job. One wrote, “Clean up your résumé and get the fuck out.”

person writing a resume on a laptop

Khanchit Khirisutchalual / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Personally, if I was getting non-emergency texts from work during a vacation, I’d reply when I could with something like, “Hi, I’m on vacation, but I’m happy to discuss this on [date] when I get back.” That way, my boundaries around my time are clear and my boss or colleague doesn’t feel ignored.

text message saying I'm on vacation until Monday but I'm happy to help with this question when I get back

Megan Liscomb

Now, I’m curious — what would you do in the original poster‘s shoes? Or, has something like this happened to you before? Tell me all about it in the comments.

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