How to get out of work and make the most of your Labor Day weekend

Back in June, maybe getting away for Labor Day weekend just didn’t seem possible. Maybe there were too many looming commitments or perhaps money seemed too tight. But now your time has been freed up and you’re seeing all the low-priced flights and deals available for Labor Day. You’re ready to get out of town and three days just isn’t enough. But the odds of your boss granting you an extra day off this late in the game are slim. How can you weasel out of work and make the most of your Labor Day weekend?

Step 1: Assess the situation
Determine how likely your boss is to grant you the time off. think about what matters most to your boss and how they treat time off. This will determine your strategy. Is your boss a sucker for a sad story? Can you pull on his or her heartstrings to score the time off? How heavy is your workload, and will going missing a day put any of your co-workers in a bad position? Is your boss understanding when you are ill or does he or she expect you to come in anyways?

Step 2: Know the company policy
Some offices have a policy that if you call in sick on a day immediately before or after a holiday, you don’t get paid for the time, or you may need to provide a doctor’s note. Others limit the number of staff that can take vacation on the same day. Knowing what rules your company has will also help you form your strategy.

Step 3: Form a plan
If you think there’s a good chance your boss will give you the day off, it’s best to just come right out and ask. But, the way you ask can determine the answer. Asking for time off to go on a last-minute fun-filled vacation may sound frivolous to a hard-working boss. Taking the day to volunteer or get in some much-needed medical appointments might go over better. A more sympathetic boss might be swayed if you say that some cherished relatives you haven’t seen in years are coming into town just for the day, or that it’s “family day” at the assisted-living home where your dear, aging grandparents live and you’ll be so disappointed to miss it. Be sure to stress how important the day off is to you, and reassure your boss that you won’t get behind on your work by missing another day. If you think it’s highly unlikely the boss will give you the time off, a better strategy might be to just plan on calling in sick or having a “family emergency” come up.

Step 4: Lay the Groundwork
Now is the time to start building the base of your excuse. If you plan on asking directly, just do it. But if you’ll be getting sick, start working up a gentle cough, sniffling occasionally, and talk about how run-down you feel. Let your personal appearance get a little ragged, keep a bottle of cough medicine on your desk, and mention that at your spouse’s/roommate’s office, the flu is going around. Or explain that you have a mild toothache (which will then require an emergency root canal on your chosen day off) or that your car has been making weird noises lately (which is a prelude to it breaking down so you can’t get to work).

Step 5: Enjoy your day off. . . but be careful
If you’ve asked for and been granted the day off, good for you. If not, and you are going with the dishonest option, make sure you don’t return to work with the unmistakable look of someone who has just been on vacation. A deep tan is a sure giveaway. If you opted to be “sick”, you should appear to recover over the course of a few days. If your car “broke down”, mention the costly repairs and be sure to not park your perfectly fine car in the same lot as the boss’!

If a full day off isn’t what you’re after, you can still make the most of the three-day weekend by extending your travel time a little. Take off right from work on Friday, leaving a few hours early if you can. If you are flying to your destination, try to book the first flight back on Tuesday morning. You’ll get a few extra hours of vacation by not coming back Monday night, and you won’t have to miss more than an hour or two of work. you can keep your boss happy, and squeeze just a bit more time into your three-day weekend.

Who works harder? Aussies or Americans? What does this mean for tourism?

In this article in the Sydney Morning Herald, Australians are touted as working the hardest out of people in the developed world.

Here are the statistics given to prove the point. In Australia:

  • Almost 60% of the people with full-time jobs don’t take all of their four-week vacation time.
  • Years of this practice have many people with 8 weeks of unused time.
  • Corporate men ages 35-49 with kids under 12 are the biggest culprits of this practice.

I find the statistics interesting since I don’t know many jobs in the U.S. where people have a starting vacation time of more than two weeks. Many begin a job with less than that. Many folks don’t even get a paid vacation. In order for people to have acquired eight weeks of unused time in the U.S., they would have had to have not taken ANY vacation for at least four years if they are the ones with the two-week time frame. In a Gadling post in 2007, Willy pointed out the U.S. statistics which don’t bode well for those looking for R&R on a beach somewhere.

However, given that if the Australian statistics are indeed correct, and who really cares anyway, the larger point that the article makes is important indeed. Unused vacation time means unspent tourist dollars. In today’s economy, tourism could be a big economic boost to many parts of both countries–Australia and the U.S.

In Australia, the not taken time equates to $31 billion in holiday pay. Yowza! Hoping to tap into the dough, Tourism Australia has a program called “No Leave, No Life,” in order to get the business community to buy into the idea of the importance of taking that vacation time.

I think the U.S. needs to tap into the idea of more vacation time, period. If people are given four weeks, they may take two at least.

As part of the campaign in Australia, and I’d bet the U.S., part of the TV and print ads need to address the issue of how important it is for dads to spend time with their children. AND show dads having fun doing it.

Anyone with kids who are bickering at home with each other and arguing about cleaning their rooms, or whining from the backseat, “How long before we get there?” may think that work is actually more relaxing than that family vacation.