Leah Thomas
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Asking for time off at the beginning of a new job can be intimidating, scary, and frowned up, depending on the circumstances. You are still unsure of your place within the company, you’re trying to make a good impression, and you aren’t yet familiar with your boss and how she/he reacts to certain situations.

While asking for time off to take a vacation can be risky, asking for necessary time off when a close relative is ill should be understandable to your boss and your company.

One anonymous FGB’er wrote into our Discussion Board to ask for advice on this sensitive subject.

“It's my first week at a new job. I need to take a few weeks off... immediately,” she said. “My mom is terminally ill. I have a flight ready to go see my mom in Florida, but I haven't told my boss. This will be the last time I see my mom before she passes away, but I just started a new job that I can't afford to lose. What do I tell my boss?? I get too emotional thinking about it and end up wanting to cry every time I think to say something to him.”

Another FGB’er offered her support, as well as very sound advice.

“It's a conversation you're going to have to have, right? So, if it were me, I would probably say something like, ‘I know the timing of this is unfortunate, and I'd like to make sure you understand that I am fully committed to this job. However, I have a family emergency, my mother has entered hospice care (or however you can say it), and [I] need a few personal days.’ Depending on what you do, you could offer to be available for questions/etc. via email or text, if you feel up to it. Letting your boss know that you realize the timing is not great will help them feel better about trusting you. I hope this helps. Big hug.”

First, from everyone at Fairygodboss, we are so sorry to hear what you are going through.

Being honest with your boss is key. Ask her/him to meet with you privately toward the end of the day if you are worried about getting emotional (and if you do get emotional, that is perfectly acceptable; you are going through a very hard time, and your boss will understand). Be straightforward and stress to your boss how much this job means to you. Say that you are willing to take unpaid leave (if that is standard protocol). And don't forget to remind yourself that this could not have been predicted, and it is not your fault.

Career site AskAManager.org says that in the case of a close relative’s illness, “the normal rules don’t apply.”

“If a very close relative — parent, sibling, spouse, or child — is seriously ill and you need to go be with them, reasonable managers will understand,” the site continues.

Monster gives similar advice, also adding to ask your supervisor if there is anything you can accomplish remotely while you are gone.

“Even though they may not have anything for you to do, or it isn’t feasible, at least the question was asked,” the site states.

Again, these are extenuating circumstances.

If you must ask for time off for a vacation at the beginning of a new job, ideally you would have mentioned said trip when the company made you an offer (bringing it up during the interview would be a little premature).

However, if you did not mention the vacation prior to accepting the position, do so as soon as possible.

AskAManager.org recommends sending an email to your supervisor -- something along the lines of: “I realized that in my excitement about the job, I overlooked the fact that I have an out-of-state trip scheduled for (dates). I apologize for not getting this on your radar earlier! Will being away those dates cause any issues? (I assume I may need to take the time unpaid, which I’m of course willing to do.) Thank you, and I’m looking forward to starting work on the 12th!”

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