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Changing Vacation Policy

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  • Changing Vacation Policy

    I am a Massachusetts employee who has been working for the same company for four years. The corporate handbook I was given upon employment and that exists on our employee internal website confirms the vacation policy I am accustomed to. This week a new policy was rolled out that significantly decreases the amount of vacation, personal, and holiday days I am eligible for. Is this legal?

  • #2
    Short of a bona fide employment contract to the contrary, as long as, for vacation only, you did not LOSE any vacation you had already earned, it is legal for the employer to reduce the amount of benefits offered. The remainder of the time-off plans your referenced are not considered vested by law, so even if you lost some of what you had already accrued, that would not be illegal.
    I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.


    • #3
      I think I actually *am* losing time earned, in a way:

      The way it was set up before was: 10 vac days/year given at hire date, after one year: 11 vac days/year, after two years: 12 vac days/year, etc.

      The new policy is 10 vac days/year for everyone who has been here less than five years. So even though, as a 4 year employee, I am "scheduled" to have 14 days off in 2006, they are only allotting me ten.


      • #4
        You cannot, in MA, lose time you have already earned.

        However, nothing in Federal law and nothing in the law of Massachusetts (or any other state) says that a vacation policy cannot be re-written so that you accrue less time going forward than you would have under the old policy.
        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.


        • #5
          Depending upon how the policy is written, if there isn't language in the handbook stating that the policies are subject to change, an employee n that situation might be able to claim that the original handbook language contained her "contracted for" vacation rate, and that she is entitled to that on a going-forward basis. But this is a very difficult argument to make because she wouldn't be denying full knowledge of the change, and her employer will counter that they changed her contract, and that she acquiesced to the change by continuing to work after she became aware of the change.

          In any case, an employer in these circumstances must permit whatever vacation time is earned prior to the change.
          This post is by Philip Gordon, a Massachusetts employment attorney (

          This post is NOT legal advice. It is for general/educational information purposes only. You should not rely on this post if you are making decisions, and it does not create an attorney-client relationship. This post may be considered "advertising" under the MA professional rules for attorneys.