It seems like the question of workplace time off around holidays always ends up a battle between people with and without children.
At least in the United States where the amount of paid time off pales in comparison to many other countries.
The holiday plans of unmarried or child-free people are no less important than those with spouses or kids. No one should be forced to give up their time off because of their marital status or lack of offspring.
But what if a person is scheduled for holiday time off and they have no plans?
Should they trade their time off with a coworker who wants to make holiday plans with their family?
Is “no” a complete sentence, or do they need to have a reason not to swap?
A woman grappling with that question turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for feedback on her situation.
“AITA for not giving up my Christmas annual leave so my coworker can spend some time with her kids?”
The original poster (OP) explained:
“I (25, female) am not sure if it’s relevant but I’ve chosen a child-free life. About three months ago I started a new job and have just passed my probation period, and now my bosses are sorting out my annual leave with me.”
“This boss said there’s one gap left for annual leave on Christmas, and they’ve been saving it for me. According to him, any new employees, once they’ve passed the probation period, will get the first Christmas off.”
“Here’s the thing.”
“I don’t care if I work Christmas or not, and I’ll be on my own this Christmas as I don’t celebrate it.”
“Two days later (this was three days ago), I had a colleague come up to me, and she was talking about annual leave and asked if I would consider switching, and my response was ‘no.'”
“She then started going on about how she has kids and what I would be doing this Christmas, and I just said ‘no’. She seemed moody and walked away.”
“Later that night, I got home, and my nephew video-called me from his mum’s phone. When she got the phone, we caught up.”
“Here’s the thing though.”
“Before my sister gave birth to her son, this happened and was in complete agreement with me in a previous workplace. I brought this up with my sister.”
“My sister said I’m being a bit selfish as I’m child-free, and she has kids. She’s working, and I’m not which means she won’t be able to see her kids for long on Christmas day.”
“She also brought up the fact I’m not bothering to come up and see family this Christmas and will be spending three of the days phone-free, so I won’t be communicating with anyone.”
“AITA for not giving up my annual leave to a mum with kids when I’m going to be off and she’s going to be working even though I don’t care if I work or don’t work?”
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not the A**hole
- YTA – You’re the A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everybody Sucks Here
Redditors were pretty divided between verdicts of you’re the a**hole (YTA) and not the a**hole (NTA).
“YTA: why did you say no to switching? You said you don’t care about Christmas, you don’t celebrate the holiday, and you will not be visiting family who do celebrate.”
“If she were switching, then you wouldn’t be ‘giving up your annual leave’. You’d just be shifting the date of it.” ~ aphrahannah
“If you can do something to help someone out with minimal disturbance to your own life and you choose not to, you’re an a**hole.” ~ quadropheniac
“Right?? This is exactly my philosophy. So often I think [people] get wrapped up in the ‘you don’t owe anything to anyone’ mindset.”
“Sure you technically don’t, but if you have the opportunity to be kind/helpful with little to no inconvenience to yourself, you’d be an a**hole not to take that opportunity.” ~ Rover8
“Different people have different bars of ‘inconvenience’ when it comes to doing favors for people.
“Some people would give you the shirt off your back. Some people wouldn’t piss on you if you were on fire and they were already pissing.”
“IMO, if your bar is sufficiently low, you become an a-hole regardless of personal responsibility. Scrooge didn’t legally have to give people Christmas Day off, but people generally view him as kind of a d*ck.” ~ dessert-er
“Right? If she had literally any reason to hold the date, I’d be on her side.”
“But she sounds like she’s noping because ‘no’ has fewer letters and is thus easier to say than ‘yes.'” ~ RandoCollision
“There’s a little thing called Karma. OP has a chance to really bank some great karma if she’d just be kind to this co-worker.”
“Conversely, deciding to be kind of a jerk… that’ll cost her big-time karma. Just my theory on how things happen collectively.”
“Also, when sh*t like this happens, it gets around the office, and OP may not have any friends or allies at work. Nobody is gonna have their back.” ~ OkExternal7904
“YTA. Only because you prefaced this whole thing by saying you don’t care if you work Christmas or not.”
“If you don’t care, why say no?”
“It is completely your choice, and you have every right to have your leave, but what you wrote is so opposite it seems like you said ‘no’ just to be mean.” ~ CrabbiestAsp
“Exactly this. It sounds like OP has declined with the sole purpose being to be mean and gloat over having Christmas off. That makes them 100% an AH.”
“If they’d already made plans, that would be a different matter.” ~ ClareLut
“I think actually OP just hates parents and resents the fact that she is having to make accommodations for someone who chose to have kids. OP has chosen not to, so is being spiteful.”
“I am an antinatalist so I definitely relate to the OP on this for sure. She definitely should not be expected to cater towards the parents in her workspace all the time.”
“However, in this scenario- not visiting family, no other type of solo trip planned, not even celebrating the holiday itself?? it definitely makes OP an a**hole.”
“I also don’t know why you wouldn’t want to ingratiate yourself to a new coworker when given an easy opportunity.” ~ katiebug714
“Agreed. And it’s not even that OP “has to.” The coworker just asked if she’d be willing to switch. OP’s response seems spiteful and inconsiderate.”
“Why not be gracious and help a coworker out when being off on Christmas doesn’t even matter to OP? I don’t get it.”
“OP comes off as someone who’s unwilling to cooperate or help others out even when doing so doesn’t cause any damage to herself. That is not a desirable quality at a workplace.” ~ untroddenpath
However, others felt just as strongly that the OP did nothing wrong by saying “no.”
“OP has plans to turn off her phone for three days. She may need to decompress. It’s nobody’s business what she plans to do with her time.”
“She doesn’t want to is a good enough reason. Otherwise, they’ll just come up with a million excuses why she should just do it anyway.”
“Child-free and single people are often pressured to give up their time for parents. They never get to leave early for a school play or take a week off when their kids are sick.”
“On the contrary, they are the ones who are pressured to pick up the slack when parents are off or to compromise. They can work all the holidays and do overtime because they don’t have kids to rush home to.”
“So what? I want to rush home to my cat, and it’s nobody’s business.”
“People aren’t special just because they have kids. You plan around it.”
“You don’t try to guilt others to fix things so you get the premium time off, and they get the crumbs of leftover days no one else wants.”
“They are EQUAL in the workplace, and coercion shouldn’t be allowed. I’d go to HR if they pressure you anymore.”
“OP deserves the time off like anyone else. It was GIVEN to her. She didn’t take the days maliciously. NTA.” ~ babcock27
“NTA. Having kids doesn’t give you a free pass to have what you want. The days are yours to do whatever you want.”
“Your coworker asked you. You said no. End of story.”
“It doesn’t matter if it’s Christmas if you celebrate it or not, or if you will be with family or alone. Those are YOUR days off.” ~ ExpressionMundane244
“Finally!! I was waiting for someone to say this!”
“Just because someone is child-free and has no plans for a holiday doesn’t mean they should step aside for people who do! If she has the time to take off, then she should.”
“If the coworker really needed/wanted the time off, they should have said something to the manager before. Totally NTA here!” ~ Reece2084
Ultimately it is the OP’s decision whether or not to swap with her coworker.
And she doesn’t owe anyone a reason.
She just needs to understand her sister—and coworker—are also entitled to think she’s being an a**hole.