Not allowed to take a vacation?

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martint said:   A friend of mine (no really, it's not me...) works for a California company that provides vacation time accrual benefits but won't let him actually take a vacation. The company has multiple locations, and he has been denied his vacation requests at his location on multiple times, while employees at other locations (<50 miles away) of similar skill/category are allowed to take their vacations. He's CA exempt (e.g. full-time salaried, not hourly) if that matters.

Are there any CA state or federal laws that protect against this sort of thing? All I've been able to find searching thus far is that there are CA laws protecting accrued vacation (e.g. it can't expire if not taken by the end of the year) but nothing that either requires a company to let you take a vacation using time you've accrued or requires similar treatment between two closely spaced work locations.

Thanks!
how long has he worked for the company? the company could have a policy where you can accrue vacation, but you can't take it until after a 6-12month period....

xelint said:   megatard said:   shadow2k said:   he'll eventually reach that cap. Once reached, the employer must pay out some of that vacation time as salary so that the employee can continue to accrue vacation time.Come again? The company must pay out when the cap is reached? My company does not allow me to sell or cash-in unused PTO. I get more PTO than I can use, so if there's really such a law that the company must pay it out, I want to take advantage of it.

Edited to add: I just did some research and this seems to be only a California law. I'm not in CA so I'm SOL.


I ran into the same situation. Instead of taking off large chunks of time I went to the Friday optional plan where I would just take Fridays off. Makes for nice 4 day work weeks.


He tried that a few times - "I'd like to take a Friday off in two months" sort of thing -- denied, we can't get coverage.

Granted, that was June/July, so more busy a travel season. Now he's asking for a week in late Feb...not a big travel time. Told no. He told me today it's not just other sites, someone at his site was just allowed to take a week vacation...

Al3xK said:   If you mean, "I refuse to work on vacation because it can wait until I get back" then I agree. I, however, am almost irreplaceable so when I vacation, there are times where the company will lose $150k/hour if I can't be available...and if I took the "refuse to work" attitude I'm sure I wouldn't last long.

With all respect, are they idiots? Vacation is the least worry about keeping an employee available. We lump all of the possible scenarios under the euphemism "hit by a bus". Are they unwilling to do whatever is needed to have a 2nd person who can cover the spikes where you are worth $150k per hour? Unless you are a highly successful entertainer like Jimmy Buffet or Tom Brady, it seems like inexcusable recklessness on their part.

SlimTim said:   Al3xK said:   If you mean, "I refuse to work on vacation because it can wait until I get back" then I agree. I, however, am almost irreplaceable so when I vacation, there are times where the company will lose $150k/hour if I can't be available...and if I took the "refuse to work" attitude I'm sure I wouldn't last long.

With all respect, are they idiots? Vacation is the least worry about keeping an employee available. We lump all of the possible scenarios under the euphemism "hit by a bus". Are they unwilling to do whatever is needed to have a 2nd person who can cover the spikes where you are worth $150k per hour? Unless you are a highly successful entertainer like Jimmy Buffet or Tom Brady, it seems like inexcusable recklessness on their part.


There is a second guy who can do what I can, but sometimes we can't completely cover each other's abilities and there are some things that only I know. And those "issues" that have <1% chance of occurring while I'm on vacation really only take maybe 1-3 hours for me to fix. So it's an acceptable risk. I'm considered "on call" at all times. I'm given a bunch of freedom too as a result.

umcsom said:   StevenColorado said:   shadow2k said:   Laws in CA are basically as follows:

If offered, Employer controls it. Meaning they can dictate completely when you can and cannot take vacation time...including never allowing you to use it for a day off. Perfectly legal, sorry.

Vacation time is considered part of the salary. It cannot expire. However, they must cap the accrual. What this means for your friend is that if they continue to deny all requests, he'll eventually reach that cap. Once reached, the employer must pay out some of that vacation time as salary so that the employee can continue to accrue vacation time.

So...the employer is doing nothing wrong. Your friend needs to talk to their boss and work with them to find a reasonable time that will work for both them and the company. If they can't do that...find a better job.


Nope. No need to take this lying down.

Start documenting. The requests he made, and the denials. The fact that every other employee (not just those in his identical job) routinely had their requests approved. The fact that he lost XX hours under the cap.

At the point he leaves the company, present the above in a polite letter to the HR dept head, the CEO, and the CA Dept of Industrial Relations, and express hope that something fair can be worked out.

This is a clear case of discrimination.


Says the guy without a job. This is the problem with advice from the internet. You don't know the source.


I work in management for a company who's headquartered in CA. So even though I'm not in CA, I'm exposed to what the laws are on their side all the time.

http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/faq_vacation.htm

6.

Q.

Can my employer tell me when to take my vacation?


A.

Yes, your employer has the right to manage its vacation pay responsibilities, and one of the ways it can do this is by controlling when vacation can be taken and the amount of vacation that may be taken at any particular time.

7.

Q.

My employer's vacation policy provides that if I don't use all of my vacation by the end of the year, he will pay me for the vacation that I earned and accrued that year, but did not take. Is this legal?


A.

Yes, your employer has the right to manage its vacation pay responsibilities, and one of the ways it can do this is by paying you off each year for vacation that you earned and accrued that year, but did not take.

martint said:   A friend of mine (no really, it's not me...) works for a California company that provides vacation time accrual benefits but won't let him actually take a vacation. The company has multiple locations, and he has been denied his vacation requests at his location on multiple times, while employees at other locations (<50 miles away) of similar skill/category are allowed to take their vacations. He's CA exempt (e.g. full-time salaried, not hourly) if that matters.

Are there any CA state or federal laws that protect against this sort of thing? All I've been able to find searching thus far is that there are CA laws protecting accrued vacation (e.g. it can't expire if not taken by the end of the year) but nothing that either requires a company to let you take a vacation using time you've accrued or requires similar treatment between two closely spaced work locations.

Thanks!


No, there aren't any laws. I once worked as a government employee in California. Even the California government was doing this to us workers. As long as they let you accrue unlimited vacation time on the books, there is nothing you can do about it. The moment they place a limit on how much time you can get or if your time expires as a result of them refusing, that is when they are violating the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The state's prison workers actually won and later lost a lawsuit over this, and later struck a lavish deal with the governor. They accrue nearly three weeks of vacation time a year, but it's rare to hear of a prison officer getting more than one week off of work, if any time at all. Such an environment has spurred massive (but largely ignored) abuse of the sick call system. People call in "sick" to work to get married, to attend their kid's graduation or make their son or daughter's music concert or dance recital. There are limitations, however, most state workers who work in 24/7 facilities have a bargaining contract that requires that all sick calls be verified with a doctor's note after the 2nd sick call in a 30-day period and all sick calls made on contracted holidays or during times deemed of high vacancy and staff shortage causing a state of emergency (certain summer months, winter months ;due to high amounts sick calls) have to be verified as well.

Al3xK said:    I'm given a bunch of freedom too as a result.

Like what?

mikejensen said:   Maybe his boss can suggest some time when it's feasible to take time off?

Yes, have him schedule a meeting and specifically ask for some approved times he can take a vacation.

Also, how long has he been with the company, under a year?

This is a situation where even if there is a law, you are not going to be in a good position to have to enforce it. You have to work with your employer for things like this, because if relations go to the point where you have to enforce the law, they will use some other excuse to let you go. Your friend is best off having a conversation with his manager about what he recommends.

Al3xK said:   If you mean, "I refuse to work on vacation because it can wait until I get back" then I agree. I, however, am almost irreplaceable so when I vacation, there are times where the company will lose $150k/hour if I can't be available...and if I took the "refuse to work" attitude I'm sure I wouldn't last long.

There are some things that can't wait. However, anything that would cause the company to lose large amounts of money has someone else that can handle it (even if not as fast). Any company that would only have 1 person that could help with something where they would lose $150k/hr without them are ready to fail. If you were to be in an accident and in the hospital is their backup plan to close down the company, sell off the assets, and go home?

Most people who work 80 hours a week (salary) or feel the need to work on vacation are simply under the false impression that the company could never get by without them for a week. I have friends at my company who work crazy hours, work on vaction, and pretty much live to work. They make no more money than I do, are respected no more, and have no extra room for advancement. They are however taken advantage of more. The company will throw a lot more work at them instead of hiring someone else like they should be doing.

Edit: Refusing to work and going on vacation and not being available are two pretty different things. I see people offering to work and check mail on vacation all the time. I simply say I am going on vacation and I will not be available in any way until XX date. I am still employed the same as they are. I would love to see the termination paperwork for someone who was not available to work while on a scheduled vacation.

Fake it like I have done. My already dead grandmother has died a few times more. (multiple places)

My boss complained last year that I didn't make it clear far enough in advance when I was taking vacation
(It had been in my vacation planner for over 4 months)
I then gave him a years notice for my vacation this year
He then told me I was telling him too far in advance
I was quite frustrated at this point and asked "Exactly how far in advance would you like"
I then got the management non answer "enough time to schedule your replacements"
Some times they are just hoping you will not take it I think

I think it would help if you describe how big the company is and maybe your role in it. I know that in my company of 50 people, most of them are costing overhead and am I a select individuals that generate revenue. The CEO flat out told that the company could go in the red really fast of most of us took PTO since they couldn't bill the client.

I wouldn't go yelling out discrimination just yet. Although others in different divisions may get it, It just means that they might be doing it wrong. Best thing to do is what others mentioned. Have a sit down with your boss and ask WHEN would be a good time don't forget to use anything he says in this meeting (you are irreplaceable, etc) as leverage during performance review for a potential increase in salary. Good Luck!

+1 to that. If the OP's that valuable he should be asking for a raise. It would be certainly cheaper than paying the full salaries for the 2 people it will take to replace him after he quits.

Multi-pronged approach with what others have said:
1. Document everything. I've dated enough HR girls to know that this should always be the case (It honestly sounds like it's his direct manager thats the issue - this might come up later).
2. Try and settle the issue with his boss using the "when is a good time to take vacation" (document)
3. If the answer is "no time" then take arguments to HR. (document)
4. Always be on the lookout for other jobs. This is true even if you DO LOVE your current job.

If you are so important that you can't leave for a few days, then you must be in a good position to negotiate a raise.

Al3xK said:    I, however, am almost irreplaceable so when I vacation, there are times where the company will lose $150k/hour if I can't be available...and if I took the "refuse to work" attitude I'm sure I wouldn't last long.


So... how much do they lose if they fire you? $150k*infinity!

megatard said:   shadow2k said:   he'll eventually reach that cap. Once reached, the employer must pay out some of that vacation time as salary so that the employee can continue to accrue vacation time.Come again? The company must pay out when the cap is reached? My company does not allow me to sell or cash-in unused PTO. I get more PTO than I can use, so if there's really such a law that the company must pay it out, I want to take advantage of it.

Edited to add: I just did some research and this seems to be only a California law. I'm not in CA so I'm SOL.

I'd like the source of the statement that in California the employer must pay the "excess" if the vacation accrual exceeds the cap. My experience (I'm in CA) has been the opposite: vacation time doesn't accrue beyond the cap and is simply lost.

See http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/faq_vacation.htm question 5.

ETA: in CA, while an employer can dictate when you can take a paid vacation, I'd check with an employment law attorney to see if a company can do this indefinitely.

glxpass said:   megatard said:   shadow2k said:   he'll eventually reach that cap. Once reached, the employer must pay out some of that vacation time as salary so that the employee can continue to accrue vacation time.Come again? The company must pay out when the cap is reached? My company does not allow me to sell or cash-in unused PTO. I get more PTO than I can use, so if there's really such a law that the company must pay it out, I want to take advantage of it.

Edited to add: I just did some research and this seems to be only a California law. I'm not in CA so I'm SOL.

I'd like the source of the statement that in California the employer must pay the "excess" if the vacation accrual exceeds the cap. My experience (I'm in CA) has been the opposite: vacation time doesn't accrue past the gap and is simply lost.

See http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/faq_vacation.htm question 5.


Ditto. We seemingly have a "use it or lose it" kinda policy.

AlphabetBackward said:   glxpass said:   megatard said:   shadow2k said:   he'll eventually reach that cap. Once reached, the employer must pay out some of that vacation time as salary so that the employee can continue to accrue vacation time.Come again? The company must pay out when the cap is reached? My company does not allow me to sell or cash-in unused PTO. I get more PTO than I can use, so if there's really such a law that the company must pay it out, I want to take advantage of it.

Edited to add: I just did some research and this seems to be only a California law. I'm not in CA so I'm SOL.

I'd like the source of the statement that in California the employer must pay the "excess" if the vacation accrual exceeds the cap. My experience (I'm in CA) has been the opposite: vacation time doesn't accrue past the gap and is simply lost.

See http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/faq_vacation.htm question 5.


Ditto. We seemingly have a "use it or lose it" kinda policy.

I guess the counter-argument is that you can't lose what you never had.

I'd just schedule a surgery...use vac time to cover it...ooops, surgery cancelled last minute, oh well, I got this time off scheduled.

AlphabetBackward said:   glxpass said:   megatard said:   shadow2k said:   he'll eventually reach that cap. Once reached, the employer must pay out some of that vacation time as salary so that the employee can continue to accrue vacation time.Come again? The company must pay out when the cap is reached? My company does not allow me to sell or cash-in unused PTO. I get more PTO than I can use, so if there's really such a law that the company must pay it out, I want to take advantage of it.

Edited to add: I just did some research and this seems to be only a California law. I'm not in CA so I'm SOL.

I'd like the source of the statement that in California the employer must pay the "excess" if the vacation accrual exceeds the cap. My experience (I'm in CA) has been the opposite: vacation time doesn't accrue past the gap and is simply lost.

See http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/faq_vacation.htm question 5.


Ditto. We seemingly have a "use it or lose it" kinda policy.


All companies I have worked for CA or outside, have had such an overflow/no-further-accrual policy. IMHO, it would however be illegal for them to consistently prevent you from taking any vacation and thus causing you to run into the overflow/no-accrual situation. I would agree with an earlier post from @StevenColorado that it would be a deliberate harm directed to an individual. Personally, all my previous managers were cooperative enough to allow recording of vacation (though not actually taken) to reduce the system banked hours and prevent overflow. And when actually taking vacation, put in an equivalent less no. of hours to account for the ones shown taken earlier but not actually taken. The risks to these are if there are manager changes, you leave the job or you are separated from the job for whatever reason. To be on the safe side, document such negotiations in an email.

Can he transfer to a location where vacations are approved?

Is he requesting something odd like a multi-week vacation?

glxpass said:   megatard said:   shadow2k said:   he'll eventually reach that cap. Once reached, the employer must pay out some of that vacation time as salary so that the employee can continue to accrue vacation time.Come again? The company must pay out when the cap is reached? My company does not allow me to sell or cash-in unused PTO. I get more PTO than I can use, so if there's really such a law that the company must pay it out, I want to take advantage of it.

Edited to add: I just did some research and this seems to be only a California law. I'm not in CA so I'm SOL.

I'd like the source of the statement that in California the employer must pay the "excess" if the vacation accrual exceeds the cap. My experience (I'm in CA) has been the opposite: vacation time doesn't accrue beyond the gap and is simply lost.

See http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/faq_vacation.htm question 5.

ETA: in CA, while an employer can dictate when you can take a paid vacation, I'd check with an employment law attorney to see if a company can do this indefinitely.


It's not law that they have to pay out, sorry. What they can't do is continually deny you vacation and push you into that cap. The burden to stay under the cap is on both employer and employee. However, if the employee continually gets all reasonable vacation requests denied, there's going to be a problem when they start hitting that cap and can't earn any more time. How companies deal with that is up to each individual company.

Where the hell do you guys work that they don't have this stuff in your employee handbook? Go talk to your HR representative. They can deny you vacation as much as they want. However, when that accrual cap comes into play, they need to make a move other than continuing to deny you. At that point, if they're not either forcing you to take vacation or paying you for the earned wages (that's what those hours are), then they're going down a road they really don't want to go down. It will be seen as subterfuge to get around the policy, which is briefly mentioned in #5 of that very link.

Managing that cap is up to both the employer and the employee. If you never ask for time off except at the worst possible times or on short notice, it's your fault. If you're just simply getting denied for every reasonable request, it's their fault.

Start communicating about vacation requests only in writing. They'll get the hint without you having to be confrontational.

PlayItSafe said:   If they claim that your friend is too valuable to take time off, then they aren't paying him/her enough. If his/her office it PTO based, they should not ask for the specific time they want off and plan on being sick for the entire week. Sure, you're probably going to need a doctors note to return to work, but hey, your back will be feeling better by then.

I went through this. My then boss was trying to get rid of me. 24 yrs old at the time. planned a trip to vegas with 5 guys, first trip ever with buddies. Was told no, because of a big launch day that week. Went to the docs, explained the problem and was honest, causing stress, etc. He flat out said we all deserve vacations, they are suppose to be fun, blah blah blah. Wrote a note right then and there putting me out the week of vacation .

I never did need it, as the big launch day was canceled as the deal was put off, but I still handed in the note since I called out. I was sent to H.R because of it(had to sign LOA paperwork) and I loved seeing the h.r. directors face, he also informed me I needed to make sure I was "out" of my part time job too. hahaha.

Funny though, that boss got me 2 write ups, one more and I was done. Put me through hell everyday I went into work. Not fun. He resigned. Then all my problems went away, overnight. H.R Director even called me in soon after to chat, almost like "its over now", nice guy. New boss loved me. Was there another 2 years then found a job closer to home.

If they are out to get you, they will. Start looking for a new job and take the vacation. You only live once. I got lucky with the boss resigning.

KayK said:   ubermichaelthomas said:   Your "friend" eh? "Really no, it's not you" eh?You're Canadian, eh?
Send me some maple syrup, eh?


Maybe he can get sick.

Al3xK said:   SlimTim said:   Al3xK said:   If you mean, "I refuse to work on vacation because it can wait until I get back" then I agree. I, however, am almost irreplaceable so when I vacation, there are times where the company will lose $150k/hour if I can't be available...and if I took the "refuse to work" attitude I'm sure I wouldn't last long.

With all respect, are they idiots? Vacation is the least worry about keeping an employee available. We lump all of the possible scenarios under the euphemism "hit by a bus". Are they unwilling to do whatever is needed to have a 2nd person who can cover the spikes where you are worth $150k per hour? Unless you are a highly successful entertainer like Jimmy Buffet or Tom Brady, it seems like inexcusable recklessness on their part.


There is a second guy who can do what I can, but sometimes we can't completely cover each other's abilities and there are some things that only I know. And those "issues" that have <1% chance of occurring while I'm on vacation really only take maybe 1-3 hours for me to fix. So it's an acceptable risk. I'm considered "on call" at all times. I'm given a bunch of freedom too as a result.


Sorry but there's a lot of contradiction here, and it doesn't add up. Either you seriously overvalue your importance to the company or you have a very unusual role, like say Coach of <insert major league team here>. Beyond that very unlikely scenario going to have to call BS on the on call/lots of freedom. A great example, a friend is a regional anesthesiologist in West Texas. He makes ~$300k/yr and all expenses paid. He is on-call 24/7 for several local hospitals. In his contract he can not -ever- be under the influence of alcohol, not even one beer. When he goes on vacation another anesthesiologist flies in to cover him. Another friend is a very specialized diver. Not being able to take a bid could mean he misses out on as much as $35k or more, he never goes on vacation and has one cell phone that if you miss the call it routes to a pager, leaves an email, and calls his wife. So in my experience you either aren't worth a lot and have a lot of freedom or you are worth a lot and are always on call with no freedom.

CptSavAHo said:   
Sorry but there's a lot of contradiction here, and it doesn't add up. Either you seriously overvalue your importance to the company or you have a very unusual role, like say Coach of <insert major league team here>. Beyond that very unlikely scenario going to have to call BS on the on call/lots of freedom. A great example, a friend is a regional anesthesiologist in West Texas. He makes ~$300k/yr and all expenses paid. He is on-call 24/7 for several local hospitals. In his contract he can not -ever- be under the influence of alcohol, not even one beer. When he goes on vacation another anesthesiologist flies in to cover him. Another friend is a very specialized diver. Not being able to take a bid could mean he misses out on as much as $35k or more, he never goes on vacation and has one cell phone that if you miss the call it routes to a pager, leaves an email, and calls his wife. So in my experience you either aren't worth a lot and have a lot of freedom or you are worth a lot and are always on call with no freedom.

Maybe he's the only guy who knows how to open the bridge. During the day he can play Angry Birds, until someone shouts "Boat Coming!"
If a boat arrives when he's not at work, they call him and he talks them through it. Something like, "Press the OPEN button, Yes, it's labeled OPEN. When you need to close the bridge, call Al4xK, that's his job."

OP, If you think they are messing with your friend, I do not advise using sick time as a substitute for vacation. That is what they want. Then they can fire him, or hang it over his head, so he stops requesting vacation. I really don't think they would let him know he was irreplaceable. It's just something they say when its convenient. My company has lost many "irreplaceable" employees, and somehow life went on.

Can one still vacation with a bad back? I've done it a few times...

Ask you friend to schedule a meeting with his boss and express his concerns.

In California unlike other states , vacations are not take it or leave it . The employer will need to pay him for the vacation that was that taken , the downside of getting paid for it is that it is taxed at 50% .
Good luck I know how that feels , last year my vacation was denied and I ended up losing it. Now that i work in CA i will at least get something for it if it occurs again

I think I might have phrased it wrong. We have a cap and beyond the cap is the use or lose policy. As far as I know of, there are no provisions to cash out excess vacation but then again, scheduling a vacation has never really been an issue; we just try to pick up the slack and fall behind but it all usually works out in the end.

vipercon said:   cheapdad00 said:   It's 2012, i thought everyone booked vacation, ... ... ... of hours a day to handle any urgent issues/requests.

I refuse to work on vacation. Yes, some things pile up and/or wait for me, but my family is way more important than my job. It helps that I am not easy to replace.


Only a matter of time, willingness, or a new boss/hire from outside asking the right questions. No one is irreplacable, period.

underprivileged said:   In California unlike other states , vacations are not take it or leave it . The employer will need to pay him for the vacation that was that taken , the downside of getting paid for it is that it is taxed at 50% .
Good luck I know how that feels , last year my vacation was denied and I ended up losing it. Now that i work in CA i will at least get something for it if it occurs again


I would imagine its not actually taxed at 50%. A 50% withholding is not the same as being taxed at 50%.

Oh, my dog, my back! Medic!

Welcome to the land of the free... er, "free market," where, if you happen to deliver a baby... or, if you decide to take just a few weeks off of work... than, you are seriously pushing your luck on being replaced.

That said, if the subject of the OP is trying to take vacation throughout the holiday season, than there are probably already several other employees that have beat him to those days. HR is likely just trying to ensure that they have enough coverage. It's not personal... it's just business.

This lengthy analysis and discussion is a crock. The answer is very simple:

Find a company run by grownups and quit.





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