Dear PoP – Do People Have to Take Personal Days Off?

by Prince Of Petworth February 11, 2010 at 11:30 am 32 Comments

The carts are full
Photo from PoPville flickr user fromcaliw/love

“Dear PoP,

I just realized today that if I don’t have word to do from my government clients (who stopped responding to e-mails two days ago) then I have to take personal leave. Needless to say I’m a little pissed about it.”

That is brutal. How many folks have had to take personal days off? Are many folks allowed to work from home? How many folks have to bill to government clients and can’t get any work done?

  • Anonymous

    It’s a storm of a century. You should consider that you are living through something like hurricane katrina and not some minor inconvenience. At most this is a lesson to have some cash saved in case of emergencies.

  • On the opposite side of that fence lay those of us who are given administrative leave but must still venture into the office to get our jobs done. Will we be “reimbursed,” so to speak, with extra vacation days?

    No, but our manager is getting lots of facebook messages from higher-ups saying “kudos, good job staff!”

  • anonymous

    well, from a slightly different perspective, i am a case worker, and we have to bill medicaid for the services provided to clients… needless to say, the weather (and being closed wed & thur) brings the ”productivity” down. No, we don’t have to take personal days for these days, but you bet we’re gonna have to make up the hours later on :(

  • Sarah

    I’ve got a friend who works at the Pentagon for a contractor. If she doesn’t show up, they dock her leave. And she needs prior approval to work from home (and even then there’s not much she can do because so much of the work is classified).

  • Kalorini

    I’m a government contractor. Since we technically have the ability to work from home, any time I’m not working, I need to use vacation time. I’m a little peeved that our company didn’t at least give us ONE comp day!

    • Anonymous

      I am too but as long as I have work that I can do from home then I can bill the work and don’t have to take any leave.

  • Anonymous

    Prepare for a bunch of dolts living off their parents’ money to post here telling you to stop boo-hooing about lost income and having to make up for lost time at some point in the future since you could just go out and have a snowball fight and then spend the rest of the day drinking.

    captcha: “such values”; how appropriate.

  • Mal

    I’m a fed so I ended up getting time off, but I feel really bad for the people who have to use pto or vacation days – I wouldn’t have enough time to take off if I had to. Sorry guys :(

  • Well, I am a contractor for Census and I just started in September so I have very little leave. I will probably have to take Leave With Out Pay. So be very glad that you have leave at your disposal.

  • D$

    I work FT for a small, independently owned business. Any day I don’t work, I don’t get paid. Paid time off has always seemed like a really weird (though awesome)concept. I’m a little taken aback by people complaining about losing vacation time— something that tons of hard working people don’t have in the first place.

    • ReneeB

      I am in the same boat. At my small firm, you only eat what you kill. All my clients are off so I have very little billable hours. It is perfect time, though, to catch up on non-billable administrative work that normally gets pushed to the back when billable work is available.

  • What?

    Did the first commenter really compare a snow storm to Katrina? Am I the only one who finds that offensive?

    Sorry but suck it up – it’s just some snow. I’ve never known the concept of paid time off, so sympathy there.

    • Melissa Gilbert

      I think the commentor was just saying that it was a very large, once in a hundred years, storm. Of course, you may just be looking for a reason to be offended. That is a very common in our culture today.

    • UStreet

      I agree. Being from New Orleans and now living in DC I can tell you that this snowstorm was NOTHING like Katrina. I was offended as well.

  • Shane Solo

    Yeah, suck it up. At least you HAVE a job. Try still not having a job and then have a bunch of snow fall shut down the city. You can’t get hired if nobody’s home!

  • ogden

    I’ve never met a group of people to grumble so much as government contractors.

    Newsflash: the entire private sector, the world that doesn’t rely on the government, doesn’t have paid leave. Ever. You either show up and work, or you don’t get paid, and you just might get fired to boot.

    I am continually shocked by the insulated blinders-on attitude of federal workers and contractors. How can anyone not notice that grocery baggers and waiters and nurses and radio broadcasters and dog walkers and bellhops and many others all had to get to work, and did. Many of these people are poorly paid and rely on public transit to get to work. And yet somehow they are managing.

    Stop whining.

    • anon


    • sheepprofessor

      Agree with your general point about the whininess, but your numbers are all wrong. Plenty of folks in the private sector–like those who work for larger corporation–get paid time off. Generally speaking, the government follows the HR rules of the corporate sector. And there were plenty of government folks who have been trekking into work despite the white out. I was one of them.

    • utahgirl

      Very Well Said!

  • Not working

    Did more work this week shoveling than pushing papers, too bad it’s unpaid!

    In my case, our organization already submitted our timesheets before the blizzard, so my clients are getting billed even though I can’t do any work this week. Now, I’ll need to finish the project with less available funding and let’s hope the auditors don’t pay close attention to the details!

  • Ragged Dog

    I’m sorry but every industry in the world has to deal with less than 100% availability from their clients. Contractors bill companies all the time and get screwed based on all sorts of factors. Find an alternative revenue stream. There are plenty of people who will pay you to shovel.

  • new hampy

    i’m in the private sector, and we have the option of coming in, working from home, or using personal time. that’s just how it is, it’s not a complaint. would that be great if we had a weather policy, sure, but we don’t. the sense of entitlement of some govt. employees, ugh… don’t get me started.

  • dcsarah

    Really? Self entitlement? I work for the private sector, but our main client is the government. I’ve been working from home, but not everyone at our company can because our remote system only allows for 50 people on at one time. Why should those other 200+ employees risk life and limb to get to work when there is very little work to do?

    You also make it sound like those of us with PTO are fat cats that never use it for family emergencies, to take care of sick children, or dip into it when our minimal sick leave is exhausted.

    We all have problems. You may feel that your situation is worse, but that doesn’t mean that I am not allowed some good natured complaining.

  • Anonymous

    The issue is that some federal employees are considering these snow days as paid vacation while other members of the fed workforce (contractors and feds) are actually working. As the poster stated, many federal workers are not responding to e-mail, joining conf. calls, etc AND NO ONE SAYS BOO ABOUT IT. Then, at the same time, there are contractors WHO ARE TRYING TO WORK but can’t get any of their federal overlords to respond to them and thus, are told they have to use PTO or they are not getting paid. It’s a disgrace, but consistent with the grossly unaccountable environment have seen in various fed agencies where I have worked. I recognize there are many committed and decent fed employees, but there are some individuals that not only get away with giving zero effort (which would get them fired in the private sector), but actively seem to want to sabotage people (contractors and feds alike) who actually try to be conscientious. It’s disturbing.

    • Mal

      Well I’m treating it as paid vacation because before today I couldn’t drive, metro doesn’t go to my base, and 15 miles is quite far to walk. I can’t work from home because my office doesn’t have the money to get me a laptop to bring home, I can’t use my personal computer because I don’t have the software, and security restrictions prevent me from remotely connecting.

      Sorry if the federal govt gets off work, but that’s the way it is.

    • anon

      I can’t work from home because of classification issues, and I can’t get into work without above ground metro, so paid vacation it is. What would you prefer, that we all be forced out onto the roads?

      Honestly, I think you SHOULD have PTO in a storm like this. Everyone should. It’s simply wrong to demand people be traveling about in these conditions. The solution is to improve your workplace policies on this issue, though – not to make mine worse.

      • anon

        Sorry – meant to say not that you should have PTO but that your work should just have excused absence like the govt does in this situations.

  • Amsterdam

    I feel very lucky to have PTO in situations like this.

    And to that person who somehow characterized everyone in the private sector as having no PTO: wow, talk about painting everything with a broad brush. That is completely not true. As someone else pointed out, a ton of people in corporate America get PTO. Sure, you’re unlikely to get it if you work at a hotel or a restaurant or something like that, but if people work hard enough to get up the corporate ladder, they will surely have some PTO.

    • Banksy

      Agreed, Amsterdam. In addition to being dead wrong about “the entire private sector,” Ogden seems confused — complaining about contractors who don’t get snow days or paid time off *and* bitching about federal workers who do.

      Plus what would have happened if the feds and others that follow the federal gov’t schedule (which almost all nonprofits and associations that I’m aware of do) *hadn’t* gotten the days off? How many more people would have taken to the unsafe streets in their cars because Metrobus wasn’t running and the above-ground Metro stations were closed??

  • am2o

    This is a problem for many people:

    Any Contractor to an Organization may have:
    A contract that \requires being on site\ to bill hours;
    Be unable to enter the Organization’s Facility due to inclement weather. (Say the Department of Labor.)

    EG: Your salary as a contractor should include cash to cover the expected *getting screwed out of work\ days.

    This situation is similar to the \My kid is at home so he does not infect all the snot-noses who got him sick. I have to take a \vacation day\ to sit with him, or not get paid. Normally, this is considered a \sick/unscheduled\ day – but if you work as a contractor, you prob have combined sick/vacation.

  • Where’d my house go in Missisippi?

    I’m with “What?”. When a snow storm not only removes my house but the land that my house was on, then I’ll compare it to Katrina. Otherwise, its just snow.

  • John

    I am a government contractor who was told that our snow days would be comped. However, when I got to work my boss told me that he was mistaken, and I would have to use PTO. There goes my summer vacation!


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