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  • Vacation-MA

    Full time, salaried employee: We are allowed certain accrued vacation and it has been explicitly stated on paper our balances left or the year. Can they force us to take it, and if we dont (because they forget to make us take it or something), is it legal that we loose it at the end of the year?

  • #2
    Yes, they can force you to take it. They don't HAVE to grant you any paid vacation at all; they get to make the rules about when you take it.

    Vacation time, in MA, is considered wages and once earned, cannot be lost. However, you can be disciplined in any way the company deems appropriate, up to and including termination (with the exception of having you lose it) for "forgetting" to take it. If you think they will "forget" to "make" you take it, then I suggest you take a little responsibility yourself and see that you do.

    Boy, one doesn't usually have to force someone to take vacation.
    The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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    • #3
      Thanks for your help, just to clarify;
      One we have earned vacation, and we have not taken it say, as of the first of a new year, does the company also deem how I would be compensated for that? I assume they choose weather or not they either pay me out, or allow me to take the days off in the following year, correct?

      I only bring up that scenario because I was not allowed to take my vacation during any summer months as I requested it off, and then with 3 months left to go in the year we are told to use it or lose it. I had no vacations planned for the remainder of the year, so at this point I thought it would be worth more to me to just get paid out, and just wanted find out for sure that I am entitled to it once it is given out. Its not that I didnt want to take it, or wouldnt have taken it. Again, I appreciate your feedback, thanks!

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      • #4
        If they would prefer to cash you out than let you take the time, they can do that. As long as you get it in either time or money, the state law is satisfied; it is the company's choice which to offer.

        The problem we run into occasionally in MA is that the AG's office, which functions as the DOL in this state, issued an opinion letter a few years back which implied that a use-it-or-lose it policy WAS allowed. The problem is, what they were referring to as a use-it-or-lose it policy is not what the rest of the world thinks of as a use-it-or-lose-it policy. What they MEANT, and I know this because I've talked to them directly about it on more than one occasion, is that an employer can have a policy in which when you have reached x amount of time on the books, the employer can cap it so that you earn no more until you have used some. However, many employers, not knowing this, read the opinion letter and think that they mean a use-it-or-lose-it policy as the rest of us understand it to be, that if you don't use the time by x date it's gone forever.

        Just to be absolutely certain, in view of that, I once asked them directly, Are there ANY circumstances in which an employee can lose time they have already accrued. The answer was a flat, No.

        Hope this helps.
        The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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        • #5
          Tough to figure out

          My employer has recently implemented a "use it or lose it policy".

          Historically, we accrue up to 2 weeks of vacation per year as the year progresses. We used to be able to carry one week over and use it by March 31st of the following year. We got an email on November 3rd that went something like this...

          In the past, we have maintained a policy of permitting vacation carryover of a maximum 40 hours per year (which would need to be used by March 31 of the following year). In order to encourage everyone to utilize their vacation time, we are modifying the policy to no longer permit the carryover of vacation time. Therefore, please be sure to coordinate with your supervisor to ensure that you schedule all remaining vacation time from now until December 31, 2005.

          Is that legal? The law is confusing because in GL C149, S148, it implies that vacation accrual is in essence, wages and an employer cannot force you to forfeit those wages. But, in the "Attorney General's Advisory on Vacation Policies" it states that a "use it or lose it" policy is acceptable.

          From the way I interpret the law itself, it seems to me that if they are going to implement that policy, they need to give me enough time to actually take the vacation. Furthermore, the law implies that they cannot take vacation away from you once you earned it, but they can implement a policy that keeps you from earning any more until you use what you have. I don't see anything that says an employer can allow you to "earn" vacation yet take it away completely if you don't (or cannot) use it without compensating you for it.

          Any help here? Specific cases might be useful.

          S

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          • #6
            The law is confusing because in GL C149, S148, it implies that vacation accrual is in essence, wages and an employer cannot force you to forfeit those wages. But, in the "Attorney General's Advisory on Vacation Policies" it states that a "use it or lose it" policy is acceptable.

            This is EXACTLY what I was referring to in my post directly above yours. I can only refer you to the MA AG's office for clarification.
            The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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            • #7
              You mentioned in a previous message that you had once asked them directly if there were any circumstances in which an employee can lose time that they had already accrued, and you mentioned that the answer was no.

              So, is this officially "the law"?

              Did you specify that the employee was not laid off?

              My organization is under the absolute impression that the only time in which they would have to compensate an employee for taking away vacation would be if the employee was leaving the organization. They are 100% sure that if they have a policy that says if you do not use your vacation days before the end of the year, you forfiet them and they do not have to compensate you for anything. They've enacted this policy to save money, (knowing that many people carry the week over year to year, they've essentially stripped a week's worth of vacation from those people and know that there will always be people who lose them at the end of the year.

              I need to know if this is legal or not, plain and simple. I have an entire week's worth of vacation days left and absolutely zero time to take them. I'm running at 125% through march. I don't want to lose them, as that's pretty unfair, but I earned them and should at least be paid for them if I have the days and am unable to take them. It would be easier if they enacted this policy 3 months ago, as it would have left some time to plan.

              I can call the MA AG's office, but I was hoping for someone to point me to a line item in a law somewhere that I could forward to our executive team.

              S

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              • #8
                Nothing is going to change the fact that if I point you at a specific line in the law, your employer is going to point to that advisory from the AG's office. Until that advisory is clarified, you are going to have to get your legal readings directly from the source. The law in this state re: vacation payouts IS confusing, but your employer is not going to accept my conversation with the AG's office as confirmation and that's all I have to go by. P.S., my upper management, located in a state where use-it-or-lose-it policies ARE legal, took a heck of a lot of convincing to, and for the same reason.
                The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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