How long are employers allowed to enforce a “time off request freeze”?

We get paid time off (vacation and sick time) where I work. However, my manager implemented a “time off request freeze” effective 5/14/10 until an undetermined date. I have vacation time accrued and would like to take time off at some point-how long can they legally ban us from requesting any? It is very frustrating!

Asked on July 15, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, Washington


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you have a contract or employment agreement which addresses vacation time, the company must honor its terms. Otherwise, since companies are not required to even provide vacation and other paid time off, they have enormous discretion or flexibility in how and  when they allow it be used. Companies can freeze the use of vacation time indefinitely. They may also stop granting or accruing it going forward. Under many circumstances, vacation time that has already accrued would have to be paid out when an employee leaves, so in that sense the value is not lost (check with an employment attorney about your own specific situation if you want to know), but the company can freeze allowing employees to use their vacation time, unfortunately.

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