Can an employer tell you that you will likely be asked to take time off at the end of the yearso you should use or save your accrued time with that in mind?

UPDATED: May 29, 2012

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Can an employer tell you that you will likely be asked to take time off at the end of the yearso you should use or save your accrued time with that in mind?

Our employees accrue vacation time each mont, but in the last 2 years, we’ve asked people to take time off during the week between Christmas and the New Year. Now our boss wants to say to everyone, “You will accrue X amount of time this year but you might be asked to use some of it at the end of the year”. Are people supposed to not use their time because they “might” need it during the last week of the year?

Asked on May 29, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan


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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I know that this seems unfair but it is probably legal. The majority of employment arrangements are what is known as "at will".  This means that an employer can hire or fire someone for any reason or no reason t all; it can also increase/decrease salary/hours, promote/demote, and generally impose requirements as it sees fit. Therefore absent something in the nature of an employment agreement, a union contract, or a stated company policy 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 sees it differently. Vacations are not legally mandated; they are a discretionary benefit that an employer may or may not provide. And to the extent they are provided, an employer may design it any way it chooses. This includes when and whether to allow an employee to take such 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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