‘Should I tell my boss I’m taking time off to do a vac scheme?’

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I work in the legal industry

In the latest instalment in our Career Conundrums series, one would-be solicitor questions if she should disclose her upcoming vacation scheme to her current employer.

“I have a vacation scheme lined up at a law firm but I’m also currently working with an unrelated employer (though still in the legal industry). I’ve taken time off to do the vac scheme, and they approved it, no questions asked.

Should I tell my current employer about the vac scheme? I haven’t so far as I’m afraid they (obviously) wouldn’t be too thrilled about me looking for better opportunities, least of all doing an internship elsewhere, but I’ve been mulling over whether and how this might come back to bite me.

What if the law firm, for instance, in doing the reference check (either for the vac scheme itself or for a potential training contract offer), somehow discloses to my current employer that I’m doing the vac scheme with them? Or what if they straight up ask me what my current employer thinks of me doing this vac scheme, since they’re also in the legal industry? If I lie and say they approve of it, they can check; if I’m honest and say it was a ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ kind of deal, that kills my chances of getting a training contract offer for being spineless (or deceitful by omission, to put it more lightly).”

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Dave B

I don’t think they’ll care quite frankly.



Don’t bother – more hassle than it’s worth.



Honesty is always the best policy



Agreed with the above – don’t think they’ll mind at all. Further, if you’re working as a paralegal at a law firm or at a junior level in any other aspect of the legal industry then a good employer should actively encourage you to pursue this as they’ll realise that you aren’t just gonna stay in your rut forever.


My first serious comment on this web-site

I am a US junior associate and I had recently supervised a vac schemer. This person took annual leave to travel (but really to do the scheme) and did not tell the employer anything about the scheme. There were no problems with checks / references etc. and the person did well and got the TC.

It may differ from firm to firm, but I doubt it will create any problems.



Clearly don’t lie. That aside, you can do what you want in your time off. IMO even if they do find out it won’t reflect badly on you not to have told them.



Unless your current employment contract prevents you from spending your own free time being at another law firm in a un-paid, purely experienced based capacity, there is no need to tell them and it is not dishonest in any way not to tell them. There is, however, (contrary to what some people above have said) something to be lost by telling them. The team I was in as a paralegal at the start of my career, another paralegal had the exact same issue. She told the head of team. Did not go down well and caused all sorts of questions / issues. Ultimately they let her do it, but they weren’t happy about it and made her and everyone else pretty aware of that. She then left to take up a paralegal role at the other firm (which sort of vindicated the former employer’s stance!). It won’t be an issue at the firm you are doing the Vac Scheme at. If they ask (which I doubt they will), just say you checked your contract, you weren’t doing anything wrong, so just asked for leave in the usual way. Personally if a Vac scheme student showed that level of clarity of mind, I would be impressed.


Former Mayor of Ulaanbaatar

Correction, most vacations schemes are paid, and most employment contracts do have some broad provision in them prohibiting employment, be it full-time or temporary, with other organisations without letting the first employer know and getting their permission.



I doubt a vac scheme counts as employment for the purposes of those clauses, they don’t create an employment relationship.


Former Mayor of Ulaanbaatar

I said “broad provision” because it’s often not strictly confined to the legal definition of employment, but is probably worded along the lines of “employed, engaged, or concerned with another business” which tends to cover relationships which would not fall under employment as well.


Anonymous Paralegal

I was ‘let go’ from my paralegal role at a large well-known international law firm (who I didn’t think would be too bothered) for asking for two hours off (that I would work back) for a TC interview. Not every firm will be like this, but definitely be careful!


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