This time of year, employers struggle with scheduling vacation requests while maintaining enough staff to be relatively productive. Some employers eschew that stress by enacting "vacation blackout" periods. The Society for Human Resource Management says, "An employer ... has the right to manage its vacation pay responsibilities, for instance, by controlling when vacation may be taken and the amount of vacation that may be taken at any particular time." However, labor attorney Randy Renick who represents employees sees it differently. "I think it is inconsistent with California law on vacation pay, particularly where it deprives the employee of the ability to use the vacation time earned," Renick said. He added, "This happens more often as employers adopt a use-it-or-lose-it policy.
In the post-recession climate, companies are gearing up for pre-recession productivity - sometimes with recession-level staffing, putting a squeeze on vacations. Vacation blackouts are deemed a necessity for many retailers during the Christmas season -- and many retail workers are keen for the seasonal work and holiday overtime pay.
What is your experience with vacation requests at work? Does your company institute blackout dates or a use-it-or-lose-it policy? If you were given a generous vacation benefit, have you been able to use it, or is your work too demanding? If you're a manager or business owner, how do you handle this potential tension? How does managing vacation time compare to handling your company’s other finances?
Randy Renick, Labor Lawyer and Partner with Hadsell, Stormer & Renick LLP based in Pasadena; specializes in wage and hour class action litigation
John Kabateck, Executive Director, California Chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business