Forced Vacation

Under California law, it is legal for employers to control when workers take their vacation time. Employers are even allowed to force their employees to take paid vacation leave at certain times. This practice is called forced vacation time. But can California employers force employees to take PTO?

By: Brad Nakase, Attorney

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What Are Forced Vacations?

In industries that have seasonal business dips, it is common practice for employers to use forced vacations. Employers can also use forced vacations if they know that layoffs are approaching. They might do this to avoid paying out laid-off workers who still have unused vacation time.

Example:

Louise works as a full-time academic tutor, helping students with their schoolwork and writing college admission essays. During the summer, fewer students come in for help since most are at camp or spending time at the pool. Because the rest of the year is often busy, Louise’s boss Myrtle wants her employees to take their paid vacation leave during the summer holidays. Personally, Louise would rather take her vacation during the winter, since she likes to travel to Florida when it gets cold. However, Myrtle is perfectly entitled to have her employees take their vacation only during the summer months.

Another example:

Javier is the manager at a major shoe retailer. He knows that next month he will have to lay off several employees in order to cut costs. He tells these employees that they should take their vacation time this month. By doing so, Javier is avoiding having to pay out these employees when they are terminated. They will not have any unpaid vacation time.

What Is the FLSA?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law that concerns minimum wage and overtime pay. While it controls these matters, it does not require employers to provide paid vacation time. This is a benefit that many employers offer to attract employees.

Example:

When Kevin starts work at Ricky the Rat, a competitor of Chuck-E-Cheese, he learns that he does not get paid vacation time. Kevin loves traveling and wants to book a trip to Nicaragua. He is convinced that it is illegal for his employer to deny him vacation leave. Unfortunately for Kevin, under California law, his employer does not have to provide paid vacation time. Disappointed, Kevin fires up the animatronic rat.

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At Will Employment

At will employment means that the employer or the worker may end the employment relationship at any time. When an employment is at will, the employer can terminate employees for no reason.

Can You Get Fired for Looking for Another Job?

Firing an employee for looking for another job is legal under California Labor Code § 2922. Employees in California are employed on an “at-will” which means the employee or employer can terminate the working relationship at any time for any reason.

Can an employee be terminated while on medical leave?

It depends on the reason the employee is on medical leave. Under the FMLA, an employee cannot be terminated simply because they take leave. An employee is free to take medical leave without fear of losing their job. However, if there is a reason unrelated to the medical leave, an employer does have the right to terminate an employee.

Can Slack Admins Read DMs?

Yes. Slack admin and employer can read every DMs, private channels, private messages sent between team members. Employers on either Slack's free tier or paid tier need to submit a request to Slack before they can access your private chats.

Four Hour Minimum Pay

Yes - under California employment law, when an employee is scheduled to work an eight-hour shift, and the work is canceled, the employer must pay a minimum of four hours.

How far back do PAGA claims go?

A PAGA claim is generally one year from the date of the last employment law violation on which the PAGA claim is based.

FICA Withholding: What is FICA tax on my paycheck?

What is FICA tax on my paycheck? FICA is a federal wage tax. FICA taxes requires withholding from an employee’s gross earnings: 6.2% for social security and 1.45% for Medicare. The employer matches these percentages for a total of 15.3%.

Why Does EDD Do a Benefit Audit?

The EDD conducts benefit audits to help pay Unemployment Insurance benefits to only eligible claimants only, prevents fraud in the UI program, and helps companies control UI costs. The EDD’s responsibility is to collect payroll taxes and conduct payroll audits of businesses.

What Does PAGA Mean in a Lawsuit?

The word PAGA is an acronym for the Private Attorney General Act, which is the Labor Code that authorizes employees to file a lawsuit to recover civil penalties for themselves and other employees. PAGA confers a private right of action to individuals to prosecute under PAGA and incentivizes the employee to keep 25% of collected civil penalties.

What does an employment lawyer do?

An employment lawyer help employers and employees understand their respective rights and obligations, such as wages, wrongful termination, overtime, PTO, disability, discrimination, harassment, etc.

Can my employer call my doctor?

Generally, yes, your employer can call your doctor; however, the questions your employer ask is limited and protected by HIPAA Privacy Law. Your employer has the right to contact your doctor to verify the authenticity of a doctor’s note but cannot ask about your medical condition or diagnosis.

Can I Be Fired for Work Restrictions?

State and federal laws protect employees from employers firing employees because of work restrictions. If you’re fired at work, please get in touch with our employment attorney for a free consultation on work restrictions ignored by the employer.

What Qualifies as an EEOC Complaint?

The EEOC is a federal agency that investigates workplace discrimination and harassment based on race, gender, ethnicity, national origin, age, religion, medical status, and disability. There are time limits for filing a complaint with the EEOC.

EEOC Complaint Process

Before filing an EEOC complaint, employees should understand the entire EEOC complaint process. This article answers many Frequently Asked Questions on the EEOC complaint process.

Do guys get paid paternity leave?

A father is eligible for paternity leave if three conditions are met: 1) welcome a new child within the first twelve months; 2) Paid into the State Disability Insurance; 3) Has not taken more than eight weeks of paternity leave in the past twelve months.

California PTO Payout Law

California law declares vacation time to be earned wages, and vacation time is accumulated as work is performed. So, an employee who has the right to ten days of vacation per year will after six months of work earn five days of vacation time.

Suing For Unpaid Wages California

It is totally unfair for an employee to work and not get paid; employees have bills and rent to pay. Employees suing for unpaid wages in California can get help from an employment attorney.

How Much Does It Cost To Hire a Lawyer To Sue My Employer?

People often ask me how much does an employment lawyer cost? Employees generally have claims against the employer, and an employment lawyer typically works on a contingent fee - meaning there is no fee unless the lawyer wins the employee's case.

Employee Management

Employee management is the process of aid employees to do their best work daily to achieve the company’s goal. Employee management helps improve employee satisfaction and productivity to help a company achieve its overall goals.

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