In the United States, taking a summer vacation is considered a rite of passage. Getting away from the stresses of regular life, whether to the beach, the mountains, or somewhere else completely, is healthy for your spirit. Many Americans, however, are unable to take vacations owing to financial constraints or a lack of paid vacation days.
But what if you have the financial means to take a vacation? Is your job secure if you take a vacation to unwind and recharge? The quick answer is no. There is no legislation requiring employers to provide paid vacation time to their employees, and some firms may even fire employees who take vacations at inconvenient periods.
Vacations Are Good for Employers and Employees
Employees profit from vacations, and businesses gain from them as well. When people are given the opportunity to take a break, they return happier and more productive. Most companies will not dismiss employees who take vacations, but it does happen, especially in the United States, where the majority of non-union employees are at-will, meaning they may be fired for any reason as long as it is not unlawful (such as discrimination because of your race or gender).
There Are Situations in Which You Are Legally Protected in Taking Time Off
However, a knowledgeable employment lawyer can tell you that there are specific instances in which a company cannot terminate an employee for taking time off. Employees can take up to 12 weeks of absence under the Family and Medical Leave Act, more popularly known as FMLA, for their personal medical difficulties or to care for an immediate family member. Before taking unpaid leave, employers must enable employees to spend their paid sick and vacation time first.
Personnel who are under contract, such as union members and more highly trained, specialized employees like CEOs, may also be protected. Their contracts may provide that they are entitled to vacation time in various circumstances. Similarly, an employer’s vacation program may be deemed an employee welfare benefit plan under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act if it applies to all employees (ERISA). If that’s the case, retaliating against an employee for exercising that privilege might be unlawful.
It may also be unlawful if an employer discriminates against specific employees when it comes to vacations based on protected groups. For example, illegal age discrimination might occur if an employer permits younger employees to use vacation time but denies the same right to senior employees. Other types of favoritism, such as allowing the boss or supervisors to take vacation but not allowing lower-level employees to do so, are not prohibited.
Finally, when it comes to vacation time, certain jurisdictions provide additional safeguards for employees. Your rights can be advised by an expert employment lawyer in your state, such as the PLBSH. Call us now at (800) 435-7542 for a consultation.