Cana companyforce an employee to use their vacation time?

UPDATED: Jan 26, 2011

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Cana companyforce an employee to use their vacation time?

The company that I work for has announced they are shutting down for 2 weeks in July. They also told us they will not be approving unemployment and we must save 80 hours of vacation time to use during this time. If we do not have 80 hours of vacation time left over we will be given absence occurrences for whatever time is left. Now I have fought this company a few times when they informed us of new regulations, and it turned out they were breaking the law. So my question is, is this legal?

Asked on January 26, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois


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

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

I know that this seems harsh but it is probably legal.  First of all, the majority of employment relationships are "at will".  Meaning that an employer can hire or fire someone for any reason or no reason.  It can also increase/decrease salary/hours, promote/demote, and generally impose requirements as it sees fit.  Absent something in the nature of an employment agreement, or a union contract, or a stated company policy to the contrary this holds true (or if some type of discrimination is a factor).

The fact is that while employees generally see vacation as an automatic condition of employment that can use as they see fit, the law doesn't see it this way.  Vacations are not legally required.  To the extent that an employer institutes such a policy it is a voluntary benefit and as such the employer can design it any way it chooses.  This includes when and whether to allow an employee to take this time.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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