Starting a new job can be exciting, but no matter how skilled you are in your profession, any new job comes with a learning curve. It takes most workers three to six months to settle into a new job and master their new duties with complete understanding and proficiency.
During this learning curve phase, you don't just learn how to do your job, but you also learn how to get along with co-workers, and develop a good feel for "how the office ticks." This includes understanding what is acceptable and what could be career suicide, which includes asking too early for perks such as vacations.
Generally speaking, it's not a good idea to ask for time off until you have mastered your job and completed any training necessary to perform your job. This is especially important if someone else will have to fill in for you when you take time off. If there is a probationary period for new hires at your company, it is better not to ask for any time off unless it is an emergency or you are too sick to work.
If you are considering taking a new job, and already have a vacation planned in the near future and cannot change the dates, be sure to let your potential employer know before hiring you that you will need time off as a condition of your accepting the position.
You may have to take your vacation without pay if the dates come before you have accrued enough paid vacation time. Keep in mind, though, that many employers do not allow time off even without pay because they want to avoid setting a precedent that employees can simply take time off whenever they want if willing to do so without pay.
Vacation Time Is A Perk, Not a Legal Right
When starting a new job, you are given an opportunity to prove yourself, while your employer takes all the financial risk when it comes to investing in your ability to perform and contribute.
Your employer covers the costs of your training, any employment perks such as a company car, and will most likely be paying you at your full rate even before you are fully up to speed with your work.
Before asking for the reward of taking time off for a week-long vacation, take a minute to appreciate your employer's investment in you, and avoid considering your vacation time an entitlement.
There is no U.S. law that requires an employer to give you paid vacation time, or even time off to take a vacation without pay. Employers offer such benefits to remain competitive in the job applicant pool when hiring.
The Employer's Perspective On New Hires
The average time people stay at one job is approximately two years before changing jobs either by being promoted internally or moved laterally, or leaving to work for another company. For these reasons, most companies have policies that require employees to accrue their vacation and sick leave over time rather than offer them an advance of time benefits.
Individual company policies vary widely, but generally, the allotted time for vacation is earned on a pro-rated basis, or, based on the length of employment. For example, an employee might earn one day per month of employment up to a certain amount each year. Some employers (especially in companies where employee turnover is high) may not allow employees to begin to accrue until after six months probationary period of employment.
It is important to establish yourself as a dedicated employee right from the start. For this reason, it is usually in your best career interest not to take a lengthy vacation (more than two days off) for at least six months; even better—wait until you have completed your first year at your new job before taking vacation time.
Planning in Advance
If your company requires you to schedule a vacation in advance, even new employees should feel free to do so in order to block out time. It is fine, even for new hires, to ask their employer to schedule their vacation in advance. Just as you may need time to plan for a vacation, your boss also needs and would probably appreciate an advance notice in case they must find someone to fill in for you, or, to avoid having too many staff out at one time.
Vacations are great, but your first priority should always be to your new employer's schedule during your first year of employment. The sacrifices you make will pay off down the road and may also increase your chances of getting better raises and opportunities for promotion—something that might even enable you to afford a longer, more exotic vacation the next year.