Can a company arbitrarily break company policy to save money?

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Can a company arbitrarily break company policy to save money?

The company policy recognizes government delay but is not a government entity, today there was a 2 hour delay, a majority of the employees arrived 2 hours later then would usually be required, and were told that they would have to take vacation time to cover their hours. I was not notified of the policy change and I checked the policy on the website before going to bed the night before. Another co-worker called another manager from another building and verified what we thought to be true. Can they do this to us?

Asked on January 23, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

As a general matter, a company may change its policies at will--going foward. If there was a clearly articulated (and even more, demonstrably followed) policy in place, the company should follow it until it provides notice of a change; therefore, it would seem that what the company did was wrongful.  (A definitive statement about its wrongfulness cannot be made without reviewing all the policy statements, etc.) However, that said, if the company insists on acting this way, to seek compensation for your 2 hours, you'd have to sue the company--which, given the costs, monetary and otherwise, of a lawsuit, is not likely worthwhile. And, of course, there is no doubt but that, except perhaps as to employees who have an actual contract addresssing this issue, the company can make this change going forward, so you cannot stop the company from making you use vacation time in the future.


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