Can an Employer Cancel Vacation Time After Approved?

Earned vacation time is often the best part about work, until it isn’t. Employees are often surprised that vacation time is not federally mandated. This makes it even more surprising when vacation time can be just as easily taken away. Vacation time can be paid or unpaid, offered or not, depending on your employer. Vacation time can be offered only to full-time employees, pro-rated, or none at all. Once your vacation time has been approved, it can be just as easily taken away.

Who Gets Vacation Pay?

The Fair Labor Standards Act doesn’t even support you when it comes to vacation time. The FSLA does not require employees to be paid for time not worked, such as vacation, sick time, or holidays. Since employees are never legally entitled to time off in the first place, there is no discourse when it is cancelled. Paid vacation time is an agreement between employee and employer either by collective bargaining, an employee contract, or company policy. These agreements determine how much vacation you get and if you are entitled to it. Everything about your vacation is left up to company policy. The only thing that is required is if your company does grant vacation time, it must be equitable to all, regardless of race, gender, religion, or other characteristics.

How Much Paid Vacation Is Rewarded?

Your vacation time is not legally mandated, but it is tracked. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 73% of workers are provided with paid vacation days. Of these, workers with one year experience average 11 days; workers with five years experience average 15 days, and workers with 10 and 20 years of experience average 17 and 20 days of vacation. Vacation time can be accrued on a monthly basis or based on the number of hours worked. For example, you may earn eight hours of paid time off each month, or receive a fraction of paid time off for every hour worked.

Paid time off, sick time, and accrued vacation time are all different types of paid time off that usually get lumped together. These do not include federal holidays, which would also be a day off for workers. When these days off are all lumped together, they average three weeks of total paid time off per year for workers in the U.S. Depending on company policy, unused paid time off could be carried over to the next year, paid out at the end of the year, or completely lost. Employees are advised to be well aware of these policies, especially at the end of the year.

Can My Boss Cancel My Vacation?

Unfortunately, your boss can cancel your vacation. Although this depends on whether you are a union or non-union worker. If you are not part of a union, then no one else protects your interests. This means your boss can easily cancel vacation time, even if you are already approved, and no one is going to reimburse you for that plane ticket.

If you are a union worker, then the union protects your interests, otherwise, without any federal mandates, vacation time can be taken away. However, hopefully your employer honors the employee contract that you both agreed to. The only valid reasons for canceling vacation time are for staffing emergencies that were unavoidable, or to meet a deadline or quota.

While a lawsuit may not be applicable in these situations, it is important to understand the policies of the company you’re working for. To learn more about California’s employment laws and employee rights speak to a wage and hour attorney and have your questions answered.