Requiring worker to use vacation day for a holiday is perfectly legal

CAN THEY DO THAT?

October 19, 2005|By CARRIE MASON-DRAFFEN | CARRIE MASON-DRAFFEN,NEWSDAY

Is it legal for our employer to force us to use a vacation day when our building closes for holidays? For example, the building was closed for Columbus Day. To be paid, we had to use a vacation day. The company also said we would have to do the same if the building closes because of inclement weather. We feel we should get a paid day off instead of being forced to take these days as vacation days. I prefer to schedule my vacation time with my family.

Companies have a lot of leeway here because they aren't required to offer paid days off. So minus a union contract or other employment agreement, the companies can determine freely how much paid time off their employees receive and when they use that time.

As for your company's responsibilities, it must pay you for all the vacation time you earn under its policy. And your employer has to inform you and your colleagues of its vacation and other policies in writing ahead of time, whether through postings or handouts.

"As long as they are living up to their obligation, there is no violation," said a representative at the New York State Labor Department.

If the company hasn't posted the information, you have a bone to pick, especially if you booked a trip and counted on using up all your remaining vacation time for it. You should let the company know that and ask for a special dispensation because of its negligence. However, if it posted the policy, you'd have little recourse.

carrie.draffen@newsday.com.

Carrie Mason-Draffen writes for Newsday.

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