Can we deny an employee’s use of accrued vaca­tion time?


Yes, the deci­sion to approve or deny the use of accrued vaca­tion time is up to you, assum­ing you do so in a con­sis­tent and non-dis­crim­i­na­to­ry man­ner. It would be accept­able, for exam­ple, to deny a vaca­tion request because approv­ing it would leave you with­out ade­quate cov­er­age or because the employ­ee asked with less notice than is required by your time off policy.

You should, how­ev­er, ensure that cer­tain employ­ees are not denied vaca­tion dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly. For instance, if an employer’s admin­is­tra­tive staff (who are all women), or their soft­ware engi­neers (who are all men), are con­sis­tent­ly denied vaca­tion because arrang­ing cov­er­age is dif­fi­cult and dead­lines are abun­dant, this could lead to claims of discrimination.

If you have “use it or lose it” vaca­tion pol­i­cy, you may want to change it (per­ma­nent­ly or for 2020) to a sys­tem where hours roll over from one ben­e­fit year to anoth­er (up to a rea­son­able cap) so that employ­ees don’t feel like they need to use up their vaca­tion by a cer­tain date or risk los­ing the ben­e­fit. If you already roll over hours, you might con­sid­er rais­ing the rollover cap for this year in response to COVID-19. In any case, be sure to noti­fy employ­ees of any changes to your policy.

By Emi­ly Schlaudecker

Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on