What Should You Do If a Millennial Employee Keeps Trying to Take Time Off of Work?

time off work

Taking too much time off not just applies to Millennials but any generation in the workplace environment.

On first glance this can seem like an employee trying to take advantage of their boss but on deeper analysis there is a lot more to the picture.

On one end- an employee has a personal issue that needs to be addressed which is causing them to take excessive time off work.

The other- the employee purposefully takes time off work for recreational activities.

How do you solve this predicament? The easy answers lies on setting clear and concise expectations as early as possible. However, there are various situations that require different approaches hence, here are four different situations and how to effectively handle them.


Q. How do you handle the situation where the employee has a legitimate reason to take time off? (Family, Injury)

In these situations, make sure to always document what you tell the employee and when. That way you avoid any potential lawsuit if this leads to terminating the employer relationship. In addition, managers should follow a step by step plan in order to minimize confusion in difficult workplace situations:

  1. Find out the length of the time off that they need (they are usually rules regarding injury and time off of work such as accidents at work).
  2. Build a plan around it. For example, if they need three weeks off, then there should be a maximum amount of time that you will continue to employee them. By letting the employee know the quantitative amount, you can hold firm in the agreement.
  3. Circle back after the first phase is done if they continue to take time off.
  4. Time appropriate action (Performance review, firing where necessary)

Again, make sure to document this process. Have explicit barriers and boundaries that yourself and direct report can reference. By providing this level of clarity, not only do you protect yourself in lawsuit situations, but also bring peace of mind to the employee. Reason being, when employees take time off they are usually concerned if they will get fired if they take too much off.

I once had a coworker who had a back injury who was constantly going in and out of surgery and missing most of the work days. This was believable at first, but after it continuing for several years and their workplace performance dramatically dropping, the employer had to let them go because they simply were not producing. It’s these situations that keep up human resources would benefit from drawing clearer cut boundaries.


Q. How Do You Handle Situations With Unlimited Paid Time Off?

Unlimited Paid Time Off (Unlimited PTO) seems like a manager’s worst nightmare but surprisingly, employees often don’t take enough time off with Unlimited Paid Time Off which can lead to burnout.

A great way to handle employees who abuse this situation is again, setting clear expectations of the role as early as possible.

For instance, let’s say that you manager someone in sales and you find that they are taking advantage of the Unlimited PTO policy. In order to set the record straight, point out what they need to hit in terms of quota and let them decide how much time if they take off. They are in charge of their time and if they want to take Unlimited PTO fine, as long as they meet the work threshold.


Q. What do you do when your direct report lies about the reason for taking time off?

As long as they are not claiming recreational time as a medical leave then you shouldn’t worry about. Sure it’s not good to lie, but when you need to tell them that you saw on their Instagram their recent trip to the Bahamas, you will find yourself in deep water with violating trust. At this point it’s up to the manager to decide if they want to approach their direct report about their lying behavior or should they continue pretending that nothing happened significant. Personally, I would approach them about the situation because its a violation of trust and shows that maybe you as a manager are not worth being authentic to.


Q. What do you do when an employee keeps requesting time off even when they are above the limit?

Human resources are usually prepared for what to do in this situation. If there is no policy you can utilize expectations and if they don’t follow expectations, put them on performance review. If it still continues, fire them. I wish there was a nice solution here, but an employee does work and if they still refuse to do that, then there is no point in hiring them.


Jeff Butler

Jeff Butler Internationally respected speaker and consultant, Jeff Butler helps bridge generational gaps between Millennials and companies looking for their talent and patronage. Butler has quickly built his reputation as a memorable presenter with tangible solutions for attracting, retaining, and engaging Millennials as employees and customers. Within just the past three years, he has spoken at two TEDx events and multiple Fortune 500 companies such as Google, Amazon, and LinkedIn.


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