Am i getting screwed on vacation time.
June 2, 2014 6:01 PM   Subscribe

I've been working with this shop for a little more than a year. One of the few benefits is two weeks vacation after one year, actually it's 2 weeks vacation after 20 years also. So today I went to the manager and asked for a week off in August and a week in November. I was told since I had started May 25th of last year, I would only be able to get one week vacation. So this is how they work it, because there is a half a calendar year left, I get half of the two weeks of the vacation time it says i get printed on the benefits page. No where is this explained on any printed material.

Am I off base here, or is this the norm? This is a family owned business which has been in business for 100 years and I have been told by everyone that works there that they just look out for themselves. They certainly do not show any appreciation for any of its employees (other than the Christmas pizza party we had in a garage of a paint store at lunch).
posted by ok to Work & Money (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
At the companies I worked for, I usually accrued vacation each month I worked that at whatever rate I was earning it, so as a person earning 2 weeks vacation, it worked out to .833 days per month. So at the end of one year if I hadn't taken any days off, I had a full 2 weeks in my vacation bank.
posted by cecic at 6:07 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

What country are you in? If you're in the US, what state are you in?
posted by insectosaurus at 6:07 PM on June 2

posted by ok at 6:09 PM on June 2

Wait. You started in May of '13, and they're trying to say you don't qualify for the two weeks?!?
They are messing with you, big time.
As of last week, they owed you two weeks, period.
posted by PlantGoddess at 6:12 PM on June 2 [9 favorites]

At the companies I worked for, I usually accrued vacation each month I worked that at whatever rate I was earning it, so as a person earning 2 weeks vacation, it worked out to .833 days per month.

This is accurate, but the reason behind gradual accrual is that in most states companies owe you pay for those days if you are fired or quit- so they don't want someone to leave after a week and collect two whole weeks pay.

However, almost every company allows you to "go into debt" - that is, take the days before you've accrued them. This is for exactly the reason you mention: No one wants to start a job in January and be told they can't take a two-week summer vacation until the *next* Summer!

This is for corporate jobs; can't really speak for Mom and Pops. Legally they are not obligated to do anything unless maybe you have an employment agreement or handbook stating that's policy. But yes, they are being jerks. if that helps.
posted by drjimmy11 at 6:12 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

(I'm assuming you took two weeks last year, and they are referring to the vacation you've accrued starting in May 2014.)
posted by drjimmy11 at 6:14 PM on June 2

Most companies do two things: have earned vacation time accrue based on hours worked at each pay period after whatever they period they decide is a probation period (usually 3-6 months). They also detail how the system works in the employee manual that is issued to new hires.

Not having vacation time start to accrue until one year has passed from date of hire seems pretty cheapskatey to me. So, not the norm, but apparently this is how they do it and if you don't have a detailed manual or a written policy, it seems that they can get away with it.
posted by quince at 6:14 PM on June 2

The answers show that people are reading your question in a couple of different ways. Can you clarify the following?

A) You started in May of 2013, correct?

B) Have you taken any vacation time before now?
posted by leitmotif at 6:16 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

Sorry just re-read and it sounds as if they are screwing you in not one but two ways:

1) Saying you accrue zero vacation in your entire first year(!!)
2) Refusing to let you take days before you've officially accrued them, even in your second year.

This is not the norm. This is terrible.
posted by drjimmy11 at 6:17 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

They don't pay any holidays or vacation time until you have worked there a year. I have not had any vacation since I started working for them. On the benefits page that I received starting my employment, it states "two weeks paid vacation after one year". No where does it imply what I was told today.
posted by ok at 6:20 PM on June 2

They're hosing you. Is it a hill worth dying on? It would be for me.
posted by codswallop at 6:23 PM on June 2 [10 favorites]

What?! No!!

It's accrued on the basis of 12 months of service, not per calendar year! Otherwise everyone would only take on new employees in February.

This is bullshit, and they know it. Call their bluff.
posted by Salamander at 6:32 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

The other issues are muddying up your question a bit. However, the facts as you have stated them sound problematic at best. You should consult an attorney. I would work hard to not get into the issues that not germane to the exact issue of vacation time with a lawyer - things like the Christmas party, for example. You may have a real issue here but it is hard to see it with that information clouding up the facts.

Did you request time off in writing and do you have their response in writing?

Either way, consult a reputable attorney who specializes in employment issues about this.
posted by sockermom at 6:34 PM on June 2

Technically, most companies don't give you a lump sum of vacation each year. They have it accrue with each payperiod based on your hours worked, possibly after a probationary period (in your case, 1 year). This is so they don't have to payout more vacation time than you've technically earned if you quit or are fired before the year is up.

So, it sounds like your company doesn't start the vacation time accrual until you've been employed with them for a full 365 days. That means that you'd only accrue about 1 week for 2014 as your hire date is very close to the halfway point of the year. If they allow you to borrow against future accrual, you could take your one vacation week before the end of 2014 (when you would have fully accrued your one week). Beware that if they allow you to borrow more than a week, you'll have to subtract that time from next year's accrual. Or you'd have to pay back that money if you quit or are fired before you've accrued the entire amount of vacation you've already taken.
posted by quince at 6:38 PM on June 2 [10 favorites]

On the benefits page that I received starting my employment, it states "two weeks paid vacation after one year".

Yeah, what quince said. What this sounds like to me is "On the 1-year anniversary of your start date, you will begin to accrue vacation time," not "You can take 2 weeks as of your 1-year anniversary." So you won't accrue a full week until November, and they're letting you go into the hole with the August week.
posted by Etrigan at 6:52 PM on June 2 [3 favorites]

Vacation time is a benefit. One which you did not begin to accrue until you had been there a year. However, they may swing you an extra day based on the month of June prorated? You said that everyone looks out for themselves. You will have to do the same.
posted by Roger Dodger at 6:59 PM on June 2

I don't think they're necessarily trying to screw you. People could be right that you won't have accrued enough vacation time to take that much vacation so soon. Does your pay stub show any indication of how much vacation time you have available?

Alternately, one place I worked gave me a lump sum of vacation per fiscal year (July through June). Since I happened to start on July 1st, I received the full amount of vacation on the first day I worked. But if I had started in October, I would have only gotten 3/4 of my vacation days my first year.

Ask your manager how vacation time is calculated - whether you get it in a lump or whether it accrues. Also find out whether you can roll over vacation from one year to the next and whether vacation time expires. Also straighten out what the rules are for how far in advance you need to ask for time off, stuff like that. If your manager has worked at this place for a long time, expect them to think you are asking really dumb questions, because people who are used to one way of doing things often don't know that there are other ways of doing things. But they're totally not dumb questions.
posted by mskyle at 7:03 PM on June 2

Yeah I agree that it sounds like you don't accrue time off during your year "probationary period." I also agree that most places allow you to use future PTO and then if you're sick or something have you make up hours or take unpaid PTO. (In general do you need to use your full 2 weeks - or do you get any sick leave too?)

My job had a one-month probationary period. My employee handbook also glazed over the fact that you don't even accrue PTO during that time. (Caused some confusion later...)

I would go to your manager and confirm, bring the handbook, and say you want to be clear of the policy and how you can use your PTO.

As a side note, I interviewed for a job that had no PTO for a year, then 5 days after the first year. I wasn't going to take the job after hearing that (it also didn't sound like a good job regardless.) My job has 2 weeks PTO (10 days) with a probationary period of 1 month. I think it's also 3 days of unpaid time off for emergencies if you go over.
posted by Crystalinne at 8:04 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

To MY reckoning, they owe you a week from last year, and two weeks this year.

Frankly, this is where I start looking elsewhere because PTO is really important, and if your place is cheaping out like this, it's not employee oriented enough to know when it's in THEIR best interest.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:26 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]

Frankly, this is where I start looking elsewhere because PTO is really important, and if your place is cheaping out like this, it's not employee oriented enough to know when it's in THEIR best interest.

QFT. Seriously, my current place has crappy PTO (1 week across the board until you've been there 10 years, then 2 weeks). Also, I work weekends, but not Mondays and get screwed on every Monday holiday. Time off matters. (and yes, I'm in the middle of job searches, interviews, etc., right now.)

And if I read your post correctly, 2 week is the most you'll ever get? Or is that you have to wait 20 years to get a second 2 weeks (for a total of 4)? Either way, that'd be a deal breaker for me.
posted by carrioncomfort at 8:26 AM on June 3

When I worked for a small mom and pop, I didn't get any paid vacation until I hit my first full year. Then I began to accrue it.

It is what it is, but like said above PTO is important. I've put up with more than I normally would at jobs, just because they had a very generous PTO policy.

My advice is that this might just be a symptom of a bigger issue, and start looking around for something new.
posted by PlutoniumX at 8:40 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]

Quince has the reasoning. I would not argue it personally, because in my experience with small private retail, any vacation/pto/etc whatsoever is highly unusual to unheard-of. It's usually part time, no benefits, hourly only. If you think you can do better, I would look for another job, but I wouldn't be incredibly surprised by this.
posted by celtalitha at 11:15 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]

« Older I need new clothes, and I woul...   |  In the late 90s, I read a lot ... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments