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Legal to Deny an Employee's Vacation Request?

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on August 09, 2011 6:41 AM

If you offer your employees vacation time, you may be wondering whether and when you can deny a vacation request.

To answer this question, you must understand that, while there may be state laws regulating how vacation time accumulates and is compensated, there is no law that requires employers to provide their employees with paid or unpaid time off.

Vacation time is thus generally only subject to the limitations and conditions contained in employment contracts and workplace handbooks.

You maintain the ultimate authority.

Create a Standard Vacation Policy

Even though you have the discretion to deny a vacation request, to ward off lawsuits that allege discrimination and other practices like unfair treatment, it's a good idea to come up with a standardized vacation policy.

In writing, explain how an employee must request time off, how much notice you will need, and any other details you require.

Also consider explaining what types of requests you will not grant, such as time off during busy times of the year, a maximum number of consecutive days, and the number of intermittent days per month.

Also explain how you will handle an emergency request, as well decide between employees who request the same days off.

While you certainly should feel free to deny a vacation request regardless of whether you choose to create a policy, if you do have one, it's incredibly important that you stick to its terms and apply them evenly to all of your own employees, or again you may open yourself up to a lawsuit.

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