Can an employer retroactively change a work agreement affecting vacation time granted?

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Can an employer retroactively change a work agreement affecting vacation time granted?

I was hired over a year ago under the company policy that “PTO” is earned and accrues on a monthly basis, with no “waiting period”. Now after 7 months on the job my employer has changed this practice; an employee is now required to work 2 years before becoming eligible for PTO. Can this be done legally when it seems a retroactive violation of my work agreement?

Asked on July 18, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Missouri

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The question is how firm was the agreement and the circumstances  under which you joined the company. For example, if you had an offer letter or employment contract setting out the rules for earnning PTO, you could enforce it. Or if there were clear representations made prior to you taking the job about the PTO policy and left another job or relocated to take this job, partially in reliance on the PTO policy, you may have grounds to enforce the prevous policy based on your detrimental reliance. On the other hand, if it was simply that the PTO rules were in an Employee Handbook, but the handbook by its very terms said that "policies herein may be changed at will," or "nothing in this handbook creates a contract of employment," then the company can probably change the rules whenever it wants to.


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