Can I be forced to work on my scheduled day off days off?

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Can I be forced to work on my scheduled day off days off?

I work for the state department of corrections and we have our set days off for the year. However, our officers are being reprimanded and pay taken for not working their off days for days that, out of no where, are being called mandatory overtime days. Also, they are calling every officer every day they are off trying to make them work. I’m a supervisor and I was just told that if I don’t show up every day I’m off, no matter what is going on, that I will be demoted from sergeant back to a officer and reprimanded. This is so even if it puts me working 8 or 9 days straight that are 12-15 hours long every shift. I have a special needs daughter on a feeding pump and oxygen who requires round the clock care and her mother only gets a chance to rest when I’m off. Are they allowed to demote me and reprimand me taking my pay if I’m the only one working and supporting my family? My wife is pregnant and struggling without me at home.

Asked on August 2, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Georgia

Answers:

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

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

The fact is that asent an employment contract or union agreement to the contrary, an employer can set the conditions of work much as it sees fit. Accordingly, you can be made to work whatever schedule that your employer deems necessary. If you refuse to work as needed, then you can be disciplined, up to and including termination. So unless some form of legally actionable discrimination is the reason for your treatment, you have no legal claim here.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

Do you have a written contract, including a union agreement, which sets or determines your days off? If you do, you cannot be required to work in violation of the contract or be punished for enforcing your contractual rights.
If you don't have your days off or hours set by contract, however, they are up to your employer: your employer sets your schedule, and can have you work on your supposed days off, or require mandatory overtime. If you don't work when the employer tells you to work, you can be disciplined or punished, up to and including demotion or termination. 
It does not legally matter if you are your family's sole support, or your daughter's health needs: that is simply not the employer's concern or responsibility, and you do not get any extra rights because of this.


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