If a company is shutdown as a result of bad weather, can employees be forced to use their vacation time to cover the time off?

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If a company is shutdown as a result of bad weather, can employees be forced to use their vacation time to cover the time off?

As part of the current post-storm massive outage in IL my husband’s plant has been closed for 4 and possibly 5 days. He has traveled the 50 minute drive twice to attempt to appear at work. Talk is that people will have to use vacation time to cover this unintended closure. Is that legal. My husband is salaried.

Asked on July 14, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The fact is that while employees see vacation as an automatic entitlement that they can use as they see fit, the law doesn't view such time this way.  Vacations are not legally required.  To the extent that an employer institutes such a policy it is a voluntary and discretionary benefit. Accordingly an employer can set the conditions of just how and when it can be use

So while seemingly unfair it is probably legal.  The majority of employment relationships are "at will".  This means 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 an employment agreement, or a union contract, or a stated company policy to the contrary this holds true; also if some type of discrimination is a factor in the situation.


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