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I want to know if it is legal to be denied vacation days that I have earned, and need to use up before my anniversary date?

Mauston, WI |

I have worked for a hospital, privately owned-small town, for 17 years and have benifits because I am a full time employee. I earned 165 hours of vacation time. We have a new supervisor whom made changes to our policy stating that the vacation can be denied due to census. Well my question is how is a person to make plans for vacation if there is no guarantee to get those days off. Do I have a right to protest? It seems to me that the supervisor should be denied as well because the supervisor has no one to replace them. What is my right as an employee? Or do I just suck it up and say oh I guess I don't get vacation, just get paid out at the end of my anniversary date?I had 2 vacation days approved, now since the new supervisor started, the vacation days were declined due to "Staffing issues".
I am curious if this is legal to do. We are told we are suppose to use our vacation days, but how can we if they are denied.

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Attorney answers 2


When an employee can take vacation depends on many factors. One of which is either a specific contract between the employee and employer or, absent a specific contract, the employer's policy on vacation. Assuming that you do not have a specific contract, you need to take a look at the employer's handbook for its policy on how vacation is accrued, when it can be used, and what happens if you don't use it. If you have done everything you need to do to have earned the vacation and your employer is frustrating your attempt to use it, then you may have a claim against the employer along the lines of the breach of contract or denial of the vacation benefit. If your employer is actually paying you for unused vacation, but your dispute is over whether you can actually take vacation, the analysis is a little bit more complicated as there is no law that requires an employer to give you vacation in the first place. Unfortunately, the situation may come down to whether you can negotiate this situation with your supervisor. Vacation can be a wage under Wisconsin law, so it may be a claim that you could file with the Equal Rights Division. This is appropriate for most claims of vacation pay, but it may be best to talk to an attorney experienced in employment law to determine what rights you may have and the best way to enforce them.


The previous attorney is correct and to help you further understand, there is no law that says such benefits are to be paid. Benefits are exactly that: a benefit. Whether you are to be paid, in absence of law, then comes down to contract(s) or the employee handbook which also can create a contract. It's best to consult with an employment attorney to discuss this further. Feel free to telephone my office at 414-847-6405.

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