Can Your Boss Control Your Vacation Time?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about vacation time:

I recently found out that a co-worker was told that she couldn’t take any vacation days until September of this year because of the intense workload our department is under. Is this a violation of her civil liberties? Can a boss dictate how and when you can take your vacation.

Signed, Wondering About Vacations

Dear Wondering About Vacations:

Vacations and time off are certainly benefits we all want and use, but they are benefits–not legally regulated issues in most states, and not even a requirement for employers in most cases. Your state may have such regulations, and you can find that out by checking with your state’s department of labor. If you are unionized there may be contractual issues involved. However, even in states that govern time off in some organizations (usually in state government offices) it is understood that vacations may be cancelled as needed, or scheduled in a way that best supports work.In your situation, if you and your co-worker work in one unit within a larger organization, consider contacting your HR office to see if your boss’s requirements are only his own, or if they reflect the requirements of the larger organization.

The bottom line is that in almost every employment situation employees are granted vacation days at the convenience of the employer, not the convenience of the employee. Once vacation days are voted or assigned (according to how it is done) it is very upsetting to have the dates changed, but it is within the rights of the employer to do so. Whether it is within the authority of one manager within the organization to change vacation scheduling varies according to the circumstances. Those are the circumstances your co-worker should find out about. Probably she will find she will simply have to wait until the Fall to take vacation time this year.Best wishes to you.

Tina Lewis Rowe