Vacation disappeared from my pay slip, and I want it back
March 2, 2012 7:50 PM   Subscribe

More than a week's vacation has disappeared from my pay statement, yet I've taken no vacation. HR claim a clerical error, but the pay statement hasn't been amended and is still available from our online system. How — if at all — do I get these vacation days back?

You're not my Ontario employment lawyer, I understand.

My employer urges its people to arrange vacation plans as early in the year as possible. I did so after getting my first pay statement of the year. But now when I look at my current online statement (we get nothing on paper), the vacation allocation's down 64 hours from the initial value.

I checked with HR, and they replied basically that "Yeah, we had a problem with a few statements at the beginning of the year, but we fixed it now". I had never received any notice of this amendment until I queried today, and the first pay statement online still shows the 64 extra hours.

Is a pay statement a contract? Basically, I'm royally peeved that I'm now going to have to rearrange and cancel vacation plans due to some HR droid's error. I like my employer, and my employer likes me, but this is deeply disappointing. Do I escalate internally, lawyer up (and likely poison my work situation), or ... ?
posted by scruss to Work & Money (17 answers total)
...Information missing.

Re-send your supervisor your original email or request (do you have this?) or last statement online which shows hours as you saw them (is there record online of this? You should be able to look at prior statements, I'd think), and have that person address it. I don't think I'd cancel plans quite yet (when are these?)...
posted by Riverine at 8:08 PM on March 2, 2012

I'm now going to have to rearrange and cancel vacation plans due to some HR droid's error. ... Do I escalate internally, lawyer up (and likely poison my work situation), or ... ?

Most of these seem like total over-reactions to me. The first step is simply to call HR back and check in with them, and make sure to have them confirm things in writing/email. If the person who answers the phone seems confused or is unable to figure it out, work your way (politely but inexorably) up the HR food chain, and/or have a person above you call HR to get things resolved.
posted by Forktine at 8:14 PM on March 2, 2012 [8 favorites]

Escalate internally. You're running up against institutional inertia ... this is a problem that may be a pain in the ass to fix, so the HR people are being lazy.

When I was a teenager I worked in a grocery store and received a sizable pay raise when I took a new position. But my paycheck never reflected it. Finally, after pestering my manager about it with no results, I called corporate and they were very interested. My manager came to tell me it was fixed, and that was the end of the problem.
posted by jayder at 8:15 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think I'm reading your question correctly: If those hours never belonged to you, and were given to you by mistake, you should have paid closer attention to your employment contract/benefits. Were you told how many vacation days you had at this job? Do you keep track? I know exactly how many hours/days I accrue per month at my current job. I keep track of my time in a spreadsheet; time earned and tome spent. I also remember how many vacation days I got at all of my other jobs. Vacation time is a sacred thing, and it's pretty standard for an employer to disclose of this at hire. And at every job I've ever had, it's the employee's responsibility to know how many days they had left. HR errors aren't exactly uncommon in most job, so think of it as protecting yourself.
posted by two lights above the sea at 8:16 PM on March 2, 2012 [5 favorites]

Ugh! *time and *jobs

This is coming from someone who has had mistakes upon mistakes upon mistakes piling up in her paychecks. KEEP. TRACK.
posted by two lights above the sea at 8:19 PM on March 2, 2012

Lawyer up? Good lord, no. Email HR again and tell them that in fact they have not fixed all the problems. Your supervisor can vouch that you have not taken any vacation. HR will not have any documentation to say that you did use the missing days. This is a totally fixable problem. Talk to your supervisor too.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 9:05 PM on March 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

My company is currently switching the software it uses to handle all HR and pay-related issues. My vacation balance and sick balance has changed every day this week. Have you talked to any coworkers about whether this is happening to other people? It could be something that's not even remotely as big a deal as would require a lawyer.
posted by so_gracefully at 9:07 PM on March 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

This happened to me at my first job - some computer glitch ate a week of my vacation and I really needed that week as I had already bought tickets to go on my honeymoon. It didn't happen to anyone else and I was the one who noticed it. I emailed HR and CC'd my manager, and they checked their records and fixed my accrued vacation time. Yes, I basically had 100 panic attacks between emailing them and having it fixed, but ultimately it was fine. Just be persistent because I'm sure this is a pain in the ass from a clerical perspective and everyone in HR is going to be hoping someone else will take care of it.
posted by troublesome at 9:11 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also, no, a pay statement is in no way a contract. They have not changed your contract without telling you. They have simply (I'm guessing) made a data entry error for the start of the new year.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 9:12 PM on March 2, 2012

They have simply (I'm guessing) made a data entry error for the start of the new year.

You know how in the new Monopoly sets, they've eliminated the "Bank Error in Your Favor, Collect $500" card? Well, print out your online statements on paper, and keep them, because "Company Error in Your Favor" is unpossible. However, "Company Error in Company's Favor" will hang around a long time. You might get tired of fighting about it, after all, and if you do, well, can you say "Bonus for Excellent Managerial Skills?" Sure, I knew you could!
posted by spacewrench at 9:23 PM on March 2, 2012

A clerical error on a document doesn't change the terms of your agreement.

If the earlier report was in error (it showed vacation time you had not yet earned) and is now corrected then your recourse is likely very little to none. If you have actual unavoidable expenses due to their error (such as a surcharge for re-booking a flight) you may be able to get that reimbursed. However, they can also argue that you are also obligated to keep track of your own time, and this may even be in your employee manual, in which case you would be sol.

If you actually earned the time then they are obligated to fix their error. If you believe this is the scenario just keep escalating until they give a proper accounting that convinces you that everything is right.
posted by meinvt at 9:27 PM on March 2, 2012

"Company Error in Your Favor" is unpossible.

Not true. Company error in your favor is definitely not "unpossible" (which is also my new favorite pseudo-word). I've had it happen many times, and there's always the ethical conundrum of whether or not to say something. Big HR departments are dealing with gazillions of vacation hour calculations, and errors happen all the time in all directions.

If the time was originally yours, then getting it back should be pretty easy; if it was never really yours and it was just a Company Error that you were hoping to capitalize on, then I think you might be out of luck. HR giveth, and HR taketh away.
posted by Forktine at 9:39 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

It sounds like those 64 hours were never yours to begin with, however, if you don't have an employment contract that specifies how much vacation time you get then you should say to them, as advised by the company, you have already made your vacation plans for the entire year based on the hours on your first statement. Were these plans submitted to and already approved by HR?

I don't think the old pay slips showing the incorrect hours constitutes not fixing the problem, they probably can't change old pay slips (which is a good thing, otherwise they could change how much it said you got paid etc)

If you have an employment contract that states the number of hours you should get, then the error is as much yours as it is HRs and you're probably SOL.
posted by missmagenta at 12:17 AM on March 3, 2012

Having worked in this area before, I can attest that errors involving pay/vacation can take forever to fix. You don't need to lawyer up, and you dont need to cancel plans. If you have been paid since speaking with HR and the *newest* statement still shows the hours are wrong, the call/email them back and when you discuss getting it fixed, specifically asked when it will be fixed and when you can expect to see the change reflected. Continue to agitate for correction if it has not been fixed by the timeframe they tell you.
posted by HMSSM at 5:56 AM on March 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Rereading things, was the 64 hours what you are supposed to get ann they took it away? or was it extra that they accidentally added and then now have taken back?

If giving you the 64 hours in the first place was an error that was corrected by removing it, then I think you are out of luck.
posted by HMSSM at 6:02 AM on March 3, 2012

You say you arranged your vacation plans after getting your first statement of the year. Did you schedule exactly 8 days (which is 64 hours)? Is it possible that they have removed the hours from your total because they are scheduled? Some vacation statements are confusing, so if they insist it is all fixed make sure they explain to you what you are looking at in terms of total vacation, vacation scheduled but not taken, etc.
posted by soelo at 9:25 AM on March 5, 2012

Response by poster: It seems that our (homebrewed in-house) payroll system is hilariously inept at most functions, and someone senior in HR basically told me, "You believe the shit that appears on your payslips?!"
posted by scruss at 12:01 PM on June 23, 2012

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