Can my employer force me to use earned vacation days for pay or take unpaid days because their server failed and we cannot work?

UPDATED: Nov 10, 2011

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Can my employer force me to use earned vacation days for pay or take unpaid days because their server failed and we cannot work?

The server that runs the computer programs necessary to do my job crashed and have been down for 10 business days. My employer is forcing me to use earned vacation days for pay during this time or take unpaid days. Can they do that?

Asked on November 10, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Yes, your employer can make you do this. The fact is that is that vacation time (or PTO) is not a mandatory benefit; that is it is not something that an employee is automatically entitled to. As a general rule there are no federal/state laws which govern. An employer determines whether or not to provide such time at its own discretion. Therefore, an employee does not have the right to use any unused time however they please. Accordingly, an employer can mandate when such time be taken. That is unless there is a union agreement, employment contract or a company policy to the contrary, or this is a case of actionable discrimination.

As for taking such time without pay, an employer can impose an unpaid furlough (again, absent a contract/policy to the contrary or discrimination). In an at will employment relationship, an employer can set the terms and conditions of the workplace much as it sees fit. An employee, for their part, can choose to continue to work for an employer or not.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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