AIBU for asking a coworker where they are going on their trip?

So I am in a position where I work where I am the approver for certain peoples PTO. One of those people reached out to me a couple of months ago and said they were going to use all their saved up PTO in June and take like 3 weeks off. I approved it, got coverage for his role while he was gone and everything was good.

Hes spent the last couple of weeks making comments and things like “cant wait for vacation” or “man I really need this trip”.

Well the other day I found myself talking to him while we waited for a meeting to start. Since we were killing time I was trying to be friendly and asked where he was going/what he was doing on his trip. He got very offended, said that he did not have to justify his trip to me in anyway and threatened to go to HR.

Keep in mind Ive already approved the PTO, I cant un-aprove it, and there is already coverage for while he is gone so there would be no reason to need him at work. I was genuinely just making small talk.

Was that an unreasonable thing to ask?

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No. It was just friendly small talk. I hope that he loses his luggage for a day if that’s his attitude.

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I don’t think it was unreasonable — I agree with CJR that it’s basic small talk, especially to someone who keeps bringing up their coming trip.

I can get why he might be worried, though; you know you can’t (and wouldn’t) un-approve his time off, but he may not know that. And who knows, he might be somehow afraid work would disapprove of his trip, if it’s e.g. to do something potentially controversial or to a competitor-associated place or the like. But if he’s worried it would cause issues, it’s strange he would keep bringing it up.

I’m guessing you tried to reassure him in the moment, to no avail? If you haven’t yet, you might preemptively touch base with HR, just so they have some background on the situation in case he does bring it to them. I suppose they might tell you to never ask people whose time off you approve about their use of the time, but it really sounds like just friendly chit-chat to me, about a subject this guy talks about a lot.

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Sounds like he was the one who started the conversation to begin with, so I think you asked a reasonable question. Had it been me, I would have thought he wanted to be asked.

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I’d say it depends on company policy about that information, and certain circumstances. For instance, if he’s leaving the country, you may not want him to take his work laptop. Not to North Kores, anyway.

Apart from that, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to ask “Are you going away?” at the initial contact requesting leave, or when he’s telling you how much he needs this holiday. But as your opening remark in a new conversation, it can come across as a little more nosy.

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