Q. We recently needed to cut back on some of our employees’ shifts, meaning that some of them now work less than 40 hours per week. In order to bring their hours up to 40, these workers have been filling in their time sheets with varying amounts of their earned vacation. Are we permitted to restrict when our employees may use their earned vacation?
A. Yes, to some degree, employers can restrict when employees use their vacation time. Neither federal nor state law requires employers to provide pay for time not worked, and paid-time-off benefits are a matter of agreement between the employer and the employee.
Employers often find themselves in very busy periods in which they would want to ensure that a large number of their employees are not out on vacation simultaneously. Conversely, there may be times when business operations deem it necessary to reduce staffing temporarily due to slower operating periods.
In both of these cases, employers generally have the right to control when their employees take vacation and the amount of vacation that may be taken at any particular time. The key to such policies on vacation use is to ensure that they are applied consistently and without discrimination.