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Not allowed to request Saturdays off

My office works 1-2 Saturdays per month (typically 4-5 day weeks).
I have requested approx. 5 Saturdays off in the 3 years I have worked at this office (this includes the 2 Saturdays I have requested off in the past month)
I am 3 years out of school and the only hygienist at this office (stressful to say the least)
Recently I have had some personal events come up in which I requested 2 Saturdays off (about a month apart coming up). In both situations I have found a temp hygienist to cover that day.
Back in april I had requested a Saturday off and the temp hygienist that was supposed to cover for me had an emergency last minute and the office ended up canceling the full day of scheduled pts. Completely out of my control. It’s wasn’t a big deal then until recently with me asking for some other Saturdays off, now i’ve been informed I can no longer request Saturdays off.

I feel as though this is completely unprofessional. I’m there all the time, always on time, work hard and rarely request time off unless it’s a scheduled vacation or an event that I give plenty of heads up for (and find a temp).

I’m I crazy? Can an office tell me when I can and cannot request time off?

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1 Answer

Whether an office can deny time off is tricky. Of course I’m not a lawyer but there is a labor law called the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which says if an employee request for time off is to provide medical care or help the recuperation of the employee them self or their immediate family, an employer has to grant it. However, the FMLA only applies to workplaces with 50 or more employees (I believe). That’s why being in dentistry is tricky when it comes to labor laws, most offices don’t have 50 or more employees, so some employment laws simply don’t apply. Because of this, its hard to answer whether your office can deny time off without consulting an employment law attorney about your specific situation.
On a moral and professional level (not legal level), I personally feel that if an office is open Saturdays to accommodate patients, they do this with the expectation that they will need to accommodate employees from time to time. Whether its the weekend or during the week, sometimes an employee must take time off because life happens. With this said, when you accepted the job you did so knowing you must work Saturdays. Like you noted though, you are a dependable employee, find your own coverage, and don’t request a ton of days off. Again, this is a tough one.
Like I mentioned before, it might be a good idea to consult and employment law attorney for a definitive answer. I’m sorry I don’t have a real answer to this for you!

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