Employer Holds Most Cards on Vacation
Employee Rights Attorney
Mission Viejo, California
Q: If a salaried employee has been working for the same company for 18 years, has earned three weeks’ paid vacation, and has been receiving this same amount of vacation for the past eight to 10 years, can the employer suddenly cut one week of this paid vacation?
A: “There is no law that says that an employer is required to provide paid vacations and holidays for its employees,” says employee rights attorney Don Sessions of Don D. Sessions Law Corp., Mission Viejo.
“However, if an employer does have a policy of paying these types of benefits, it must do it on a nondiscriminatory basis. It would be unlawful to reduce the benefits for one group of employees and not for others if the reason is based on race, age, sex or other protected categories.
“Assuming discrimination is not part of an employer’s decision to change its benefits, there is usually nothing stopping an employer from changing benefits in the future.
“However, the employer cannot make retroactive changes and delete vacation benefits that you have already vested. You have already worked for those benefits and have earned them.
“You say that the employer ‘suddenly’ cut off one week of the paid vacation. This would be illegal if you have already earned that vacation by your work.
“However, if the employer suddenly gave you notice that next year your vacation will be one week less that what you have enjoyed in the past, that would be appropriate notice and within the employer’s rights.
“If you complain about a retroactive elimination of your vested benefits, it is illegal for the employer to retaliate against you in any way.”