Does my informal job contract at least state an intetion to pay for my vacation?
November 17, 2009 2:39 PM   Subscribe

Does my employer owe me vacation time? Does my contract make clear an intention of paying for my vacation?

I work as PA for a wealthy woman. I was hired quite informally and given two options of how I would be paid (see below). I am 80% sure my boss mentioned that when she took her two weeks vacation in the summer, I'd be paid because she didn't want me to be left in dire straits just because she is going to Dubai or whatever. I know verbal reassurance doesn't matter in the long run. More importantly, I agreed to this contract quoted below (copy-pasted from our emails), except obviously with real salaries filled in. I chose option #2. It seems to me that even though I picked the hourly rate, the "both options" part regarding vacation time means I get two weeks paid vacation. Is this right? The contract reads as follows:

"Option 1: $1200/week
-Hours would be 9:30-6:30, if you work later than 6:30, I would pay you $30/hour
-Weekly rate, even if I take a day off
-public holidays paid

Option 2: $30/hr
-Hourly rate (so if I take a day off, it's unpaid)
-no public holidays paid, in other words...paid for hours worked

Both Options:
-2 Weeks Vacation ($1200/week)"

Yes? No? Or does the document need further elucidation?

When the woman left for vacation, she didn't pay me and I forgot to ask in the hubbub of getting her and her 4 chihuahuas to the airport on time. A couple days before she returned, I sent an email letting her know that I was going to count the past two weeks as my vacation as well, and wouldn't be taking another two weeks off this year. We peripherally discussed it again when she returned, and because she seemed totally oblivious to this condition I re-sent the email document. Nothing happened. My husband and father both looked over the terms and say that the contract states an intetion to pay me $2400 vacation time.

To be clear, I don't think this woman is trying to screw me over as much as she has simply forgotten, but it's getting close to the holidays and that unpaid two weeks is really hurting. If I asked flat out, she'd pay me, but I I want to make absolutely sure that the email in question seems to state that she meant to pay me before I walk in demanding two weeks' salary.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (8 answers total)
It really doesn't get any more explicit than "Both Options: 2 Weeks Vacation ($1200/week)". Why have you hesitated in asking for what she agreed, in writing, to give you?
posted by dersins at 2:48 PM on November 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

Yes, both of those options include a $1200/week paid vacation of two weeks.
posted by rokusan at 2:58 PM on November 17, 2009

I'd read Option 2 as "you don't get paid when she's away, but also you don't have to take your vacation then if you don't want to."

In any event, yep, you get your two weeks paid.
posted by zippy at 3:10 PM on November 17, 2009

It would be pretty clear to any reasonable person that you clearly have a right to expect payment.

If her response is "Paid for hours worked, that's it", you may want to say "I see this as paid vacation under any circumstance, how do you see it differently?" then mention in a non-pedantic way that she proffered 2 weeks paid vacation in either circumstance.

Unless there were conditions, verbal or written, regarding advance notice, or even that she presumed adbance notice (not completely unreasonable) then she might counter that your expectation is in conflict with 'paid for hours worked'.

What's reasonable and what's in preponderence are in your favor, though, so go for it.
posted by nj_subgenius at 3:12 PM on November 17, 2009

How does she pay you? I had a contractor who worked in vacation pay into his contract (it was a bit unusual but there were reasons for it). When he invoiced he would do something like this:

Regular Time: 30 hours
Paid Vacation: 10 hours

Previously Invoiced Paid Vacation Time: 13 hours
Paid Vacation Remaining: 3 hours

It sounds like this is all very informal, I'd at least make an effort to e-mail her regular invoices in a common format. The invoices with proper accounting and regular deposits into your account can show that a 'meeting of the minds' took place.
posted by geoff. at 3:38 PM on November 17, 2009

Not meeting of the minds, brain fart, that's obviously already taken place.
posted by geoff. at 3:41 PM on November 17, 2009

Absolutely, positively, 100% clear that you are owed vacation pay as agreed to, especially since you are not taking any additional vacation time this year. Let your employer know as soon as possible that this is the case.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 4:49 PM on November 17, 2009

I might be a little late in the game here, but just to play devil's advocate, is there an agreement or expectation that vacations be pre-approved? Or, has she explicitly agreed that her time away is also vacation for you?

I'm just thinking you might want to make that clear with her to strengthen your request to be paid.

Good luck.
posted by onich at 10:23 PM on November 18, 2009

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