Can we force workers to take vacation time?

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources

Q. Can we make employees take off vacation time? Our employees earn 20 days per year and are allowed to carry over a total of 60 days to the new year. Accrued vacation time is an unfunded liability, and our policy requires that we pay departing employees for their vacation time. We’d certainly prefer that they take time off rather than collect a large check when they leave. —G.D., Florida

A. There is no reason you can’t force employees to take vacation time. In fact, it may be a good idea for more than one reason, especially for employees who handle your company’s finances. For example, the rogue trader who recently cost a French bank $7.2 billion in fraud reportedly never took a day’s vacation or sick leave because he feared his dealings would be discovered.

Some employers, in order to accommodate their operational needs, require that vacation be taken during certain times. Others, especially manufacturers, require vacation time be used during annual one- or two-week plant shutdowns. Assuming you are not operating in a union environment, you certainly can change how you handle vacation time and accrual.

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