Can an employer force you to take your vacation days?

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Can an employer force you to take your vacation days?

I was just informed that because our office will be closed the day after Thanksgiving and December 28 -30, we will have to take compulsory holiday. Meaning these 4 days will be taken from our vacation time. No one has accounted for these days, as we just found this out and many are unhappy. Is it legal to do this if it was not originally enforced at the beginning of the year?

Asked on August 17, 2011 New York

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Actually, your employer can do this. The majority of employment arrangements are "at will".  This  means that an employer can hire or fire someone for any reason or no reason at all.  It also means that it can increase/decrease salary/hours, promote/demote, and generally impose requirements as it sees fit.  This is true unless there is an employment agreement, or a union contract, or a stated company policy to the contrary (or if some type of actionable discrimination is a factor).

More specifically, while employees generally see vacation as an automatic benefit that can be used as they see fit, the law does not. The fact is that vacations are not legally required to be given. So to the extent that an employer institutes such a policy it is a discretionary benefit which an employer can design any way it chooses.  This includes whether to allow an employee to take this time, and when they can/must take it, as in your situation.


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