Why cant I pick my holiday leave first?

I have the following problem at work. I work with a team of 3 people including myself. My colleagues are 45 and 32 and I’m 28.

The problem we are facing now is planning vacationdays.

She (my 45 year old colleague) always had first choise in what period she wanted to stay home. Why? because she has children. (company rule says she has first choice)

Ok fair enough but children are at home 2 whole months during summer holiday (Belgian holiday arrangements) so why does that count? Daycare you say? they are 17 and 13.
Divorced? NO, Husband has to take a set period? NO

I always kinda accepted it but …

Now I also have a child. my lovely daughter is 11 months now.

So I told her I wanted to have first choice this time. Now again the company rule says "parents of children going to school have precedence over parents who’s children dont go to school yet or dont go to school anymore.

Ok, In two years my kid goes to school as well. Now company rule says “if both parents have children in school, employee with more seniority in the company have priority”

Damn I’m screwed again she is 45 working for the company over 20 years.

Any suggestions on how to solve this problem (she does not want to budge) or do you have a similar problem? I’m open for suggestions

A lot shops use seniority to determine who gets what days.

But is it that big a deal? Is mid-August that much different, vacation-wise, from late July? If you have particular event that you want use vacation days to attend, then I would try to work something out with the 45 year old colleague. Most folks would respond, I think.

I’m not only talking about summer leave.

Lets say a public holiday is on a tuesday, most people want to be at home that monday before to have an extra long weekend.

between x-mas and newyear . She is always at home. We are a small group of 3 people so we almost never have a chance for it.
Even if our spouce is also at home.

Why cant the company rules be more fair. everyone on its turn. and not, like it is now, all for one.

The company is being as fair as they can. Seniority rules, what other way would you like them to do it? Unless you negotiate something different as a condition of your employment, you’re stuck with it. Usually companies are only willing to negotiate with someone who they want for a particular reason anyway. Someone who is on the same level with the rest of the group will not usually get special consideration.

A 20 year employee has earned the trust of her employers, she knows what she’s doing by now and is far more valued by them then she is going to be by her co-workers. Doesn’t that make sense to you?

When you have 20 years under your belt at a given company, you will want, expect and be entitled to whatever privileges go along with that seniority. What the newer workers want won’t be your problem any more than what you want is your 45 y.o. colleague’s problem. She’s not being mean to you, it’s just the way it is.

I’m an employer myself. If my employees have issues with this kind of thing, I point to the rules first but tell them that they are welcome to work something out on their own. I don’t care what they do, but definitely don’t want to hear endless complaining about it. Your employers likely feel the same way.

If she won’t budge, then you’re stuck. Or you could try finding work elsewhere, not sure what else you could really do frankly.

Ah, holiday talks. Always a toughie. It’s similar here to the North, sportshoe (welkom aan boord, trouwens/bienvenu à bord :)).

On the one hand, it’s logical that those with kids get first pick. On the other hand, this means that I always end up having to take my holidays in September or Oktober. Now, I tend to travel quite far, so it’s usually no big deal. But what if I want to do a motorbike holiday in Europe? I’d rather cruise the Alps in August than in Oktober, to be honest. But I can’t, because I don’t breed (yet). And if I breed, motorbike holidays will be a thing of the past anyway. :slight_smile:

Seniority obviously is a lot more important in Belgium than it is here, though. Your 45 year old colleague would have to adapt, and work between Christmas and New Year’s next year, if she gets to take that period off this year. Rotate.

You are right Coldfire, rotation would be a fair sollution. But… She just does not want to. She wants it all. Seniority ok but greed is something else. Its not that I’m all that new at where I work. I’m going in my 6th year working for this company.

And triss, If I would quit my job and go work somewhere else, I would be on the beginning of the ladder again meaning seniority 00. At least where I am right now I already have 6 years of seniority. Besides, if the only advice you can give to me is quit your job … Thats the same as saying to a sick person, commit suicide. And triss, if you are an employer yourself and your sollution is and I quote “I don’t care what they do, but definitely don’t want to hear endless complaining about it” then you score a 0 for people management to me.

The only thing I ask for is a fair sollution. And not a greedy arrangement based on unfair rules

Sure, unless his coworker has 21 years, in which case he will get zero privileges, and will have gotten exactly that amount of privilege for the last 2 decades, where his coworker would have had them for that entire time. Fair? I don’t really think so.

There’s a certain logic for letting seniority dictate, in a large shop where it’s too hard to work these things out individually, and everybody who stays will gradually move up the seniority ladder.

But in a small office like the one sportshoe is in, to have seniority be the be-all and end-all is a cop-out on the boss’ part. Especially in an office that small, it’s important that everyone work well together, and that there be give and take on stuff like this. If I were the boss, I’d say, “I’m going to let you work it out among yourselves. And if you can’t, we’ll just rotate the privilege of being first to choose.”

Of course, I don’t know what work rules are like in Belgium - whether employers are locked into deciding these things based on seniority, or what. And I don’t know if the sportshoe and his co-workers are represented by a union, and if so, what rules the union and the employer have worked out. Obviously, any solution would have to be worked out within the context of any such restrictions.

It’s logical but it’s not fair or just. It goes beyond who gets to choose their vacation dates first. People without children are (in the US anyway) routinely expected to do more work for the same pay to pick up the slack for people with children becasue the little one has a doctor’s appointment or is in the school play or blew chunks in third period or whatever. And that’s not even mentioning family leave. Add to that the constant stream of stories about the darling thing the kiddies did last night and the graphic pregnancy stories and school fundraiser after fundraiser after fundraiser and yeah, I get pretty sick of parental privilege in the workplace pretty quickly.

Not that I begrudge a new parent the time with the newborn, but I should get a temporary bump in salary commensurate with the increased workload I’m expected to shoulder while they’re out.

Yeah, that sucks, but it won’t be an issue very long. Right now your daugher is too small for scheduling to be much of an issue for her. You have to work between Christmas and New Years? She’s not going to care, or even to know at this point. In 2 years, she will go to school, and by that point your coworker’s youngest will be 15. The time your kids are both in school and have schedules to work around will only be three years. By the time your daughter is 7, you’ll be the one with first choice all the time, because either you’ll be the only one with a child in school, or you’ll be the parent with the most seniority.

It’ll be in a pain in the ass for a while, but no bigger a pain in the ass than non-parents always having the very last pick in some companies.


Seniority rules are put in place for very good reasons from a management point of view: Employee retention through initiative and conflict avoidance, both between employees and between management and employees. It may not be “fair” all the time, but is it “fair” for someone to give 20 years of service and have to give up whatever perks they’ve accumlated in order to accomodate you?

You score a 0 for reading comprehension from me. You left out the first part of that quote: "I point out the rules first but tell them they’re welcome to work something out on their own."

When I said I don’t care what they do, I thought it would be obvious that I mean I don’t care if someone who has been here for six years swaps holidays for someone who has been here longer. Why would I? If it makes them happy, it’s all good.
Having rules gives people a place to start. I’m not going to waste my time arbitrating bickering. I’ve learned that lesson by being on the other side of the fence from where you are now. You cannot make all the people happy, all the time. Period. I’m their boss, their employer, not their babysitter or their mother.

Most people understand instinctively that people who have given longer service are simply more experienced, and therefore more valuable. Very simple. If you can’t work something out with Miss 20 years, then your options as I see them are: Live with it or find another job. Or, here’s another one: Start your own business.

Because what other options could there possibly be? I’m assuming that you’ve approached your bosses and they’ve said no. If you haven’t, then don’t you think you should?

Just don’t expect them to mediate. Unless there’s something else going on that you haven’t mentioned, Miss 20 years is simply a more valuable employee. They can’t put you in front of her unless they want to piss her off or lose her.
The size of the company only makes a difference if the employers want it to make a difference. You can blow a lot of time mediating employee conflict whether you have 3 employees or 300.

Note: If you hail from one of those countries where you get 6 weeks off a year by law, I withhold all sympathy for you.

Short answer to your OP: Because you are low man on the totem pole.

One day some whipper-snapper will be hired after you and you’ll get to take your holiday in front of him. Having first crack at vacations is a nice perq which you’ve already realized.

Alternative answer: If you have a specific reason for wanting a specific week off (e.g. a wedding or Aunt Matilda is in town). then why don’t you respectfully ask your co-worker to allow you to have that week? If you don’t have a specific reason, then she may be less inclined to yield to your request. It’ll probably help if you’re nice to her year round as opposed to sucking up to her for only when it’s self-serving.