Can an employer state that no onecan take paid time off for over a month?

My supervisor has told us none of us may take any time off for the next 2 months. She is stressed over deadline issues. However not everyone in our department is behind in work yet all suffer for others poor work ethics.

Asked on November 29, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Colorado


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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, your employee is within her legal rights to do this. PTO (vacation and/or sick days) is a discretionary benefit. In other words, an employer is not legally obligated to provide it. Therefore to the extent it is provided, an employer can set the terms and conditions under which it is taken and this includes when it is taken (however if earned and accrued an employee is entitled to it but, again, when is up to their employer).

The fact is that the majority of employment arrangements are"at will".  This means that for the most part an employer can hire/fire someone for any reason or no reason at all, as well has increase/decrease salary/hours, promote/demote, and generally impose requirements as it deems fit. In turn, an employee can work for an employer or not, their choice. 

Accordingly, prohibiting vacation time for a 2 month period is legal unless it violates existing company policy, a union agreement or employment contract. Also, if this situation has arisen due to some type of actionable discrimination, then you would have a claim.

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