Can my employer deny me time off for medical or personal business?

I work for a major communications company that does not have sick days. Over the past few months and supposedly until 06/12, there is no way you can go to the doctor, dentist, etc. unless you use vacation time ( and that is only if day is open) or have FLMA. This decision was made they stated because of an attendance issue. We used to have the ability to call in if there was an emergency (sick child, flat tire, etc) and they would give you excused time, trade or make up time. Now there is no excused time. Any late or absent time is chargeable. Is this legal?

Asked on July 23, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois


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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, legally your employer is on solid ground here.  Vacation time, the same as sick time, is a discretionary benefit that may or may not be provided by an employer.  In your case sick time is not; vacation time is.  However, because it is a discretionary benefit, an employer may control when, and if, it is taken. Federal, and most state laws, do not regulate such time.

Absent a company policy, or an employment or union contract, or some form of discrimination, an "at will" employee can either accept these terms or work for someone else.

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