Vacation Request

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Vacation Request

An employee scheduled vacation time without management approval. The employee plans on taking the vacation without approval. If I don’t want to terminate the employee, can we not grant her vacation pay and not pay her for the time off? We are located in NJ.

Asked on October 7, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, New Jersey


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

It is very difficult to withhold vacation pay, even if the employee did not get approval for the vacation, because employees are entitled to their vacation pay--it is part of their compensation, which they worked for. Courts are reluctant to allow employers to withhold compensation which the employee earned, so if she were to sue you over this, despite you being technically in the right, in my experience, there is a reasonable chance a court would rule in her favor.
You are on stronger ground if you discipline her in any of a number of other ways, such as: 1) you could reduce her wages or salary after her vacation as punishment for taking unauthorized vacation, including until you have recovered an amount of money equal to the vacation pay she received; 2) you could reduce how much vacation she earns next year; 3) you could demote her or change her duties, title, or shift; 4) you could suspend her.
Discipine and punishment that takes effect going forward meets much less resistance from the courts than actions affecting already earned benefits or compensation.
Note that if she has a written employment contract, you cannot do anything which violates the contract.

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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