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  #1  
Old 02-27-2012, 10:25 PM
The Man In Black The Man In Black is offline
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Question on Paid Vacation

I work at a restraint that is owned by party A and leased by party B. It is a franchise of a large chain. Party B’s 10 year lease ended in the middle of February, but Party B will continue to run the operation until the middle of April, at which time Party A (who actually owns the building) is selling it to the corporate entity, and we will no longer be a privately owned franchise (and Party B will be gone).

My question is this. Party B either gave all employs there earned vacation time off, or paid cash for unused time before the date the 10 year lease was up (which for most of us also happened to be our anniversary date where our vacation resets anyway). Today they announced that they are no longer giving vacation time.

Granted, they are only continuing to run the place until mid April. But I was under the impression a company had to give notice before changing vacation policy.

Long story short, are we owed our vacation time or not?

EDIT: This is in the state of Pennsylvania.

Last edited by The Man In Black; 02-27-2012 at 10:27 PM..
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  #2  
Old 02-28-2012, 04:33 AM
panache45 panache45 is offline
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You are working "at a restraint"? What does that mean?
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Old 02-28-2012, 05:05 AM
Alka Seltzer Alka Seltzer is offline
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I'm guessing "restaurant".
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Old 02-28-2012, 05:06 AM
IvoryTowerDenizen IvoryTowerDenizen is offline
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Originally Posted by panache45 View Post
You are working "at a restraint"? What does that mean?
Restaurant.

Last edited by IvoryTowerDenizen; 02-28-2012 at 05:07 AM..
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  #5  
Old 02-28-2012, 08:54 AM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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Labour laws in the USA (a opposed to, say, Canada) are woefully lacking in protecting employees.

The first question is - how did vacation work before? Did you work a year, then were entitled to, let's say, 10 days vacation in the next year? If so, then you have earned those 10 days (taken in year 2) as part of the pay for year 1. They are yours, you are already owed them, it's a debt. They either must give you paid time off or pay them out.

Second question - what is the law in your state? In most Canadian provinces, labour law says an employee is entitled to 2 weeks off each year or equivalent pay. FOr less-than-full-time employees, the employer usually simplifies this by paying them 4% extra as vacation pay on each cheque. Check your local labour standards laws.

Third question - can the employer change the rules in the middle of the game? Good question. In Canada, no. In the USA, probably - but then they can fire you with no notice in the USA too... Also, if you hire a lawyer to fight it that will probably cost you more than the possible vacation pay. If you are lucky, the employer is violating labour standards and the local Dept. of Labor will straighten them out for you.

Finally, obviously, anyone that rocks the boat will probably not be re-hired by A when the restaurant switches owners. There's probably no law in your state that says they have to; there's probably no law in your country that says workers dumped after X years are owed any separation pay...
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Old 02-28-2012, 09:06 AM
Eva Luna Eva Luna is offline
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Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
Third question - can the employer change the rules in the middle of the game? Good question. In Canada, no. In the USA, probably - but then they can fire you with no notice in the USA too... Also, if you hire a lawyer to fight it that will probably cost you more than the possible vacation pay. If you are lucky, the employer is violating labour standards and the local Dept. of Labor will straighten them out for you.
Seconding the advice to check with your state Labor Department. I'd be very surprised if they were allowed to not compensate you for time already earned.
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Old 02-28-2012, 09:15 AM
Dewey Finn Dewey Finn is offline
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It's not clear to me what's happening to the OP. Is the company that he works for being acquired/sold? Or is the company dissolving and the employees rehired by a new company. Because I think the treatment of vacation time might change depending on which of those two things is happening.
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Old 02-28-2012, 09:20 AM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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The franchisee is handing the restaurant back to the main chain, or they are buying him out. Depends on the profitability, I suppose. Companies like McD or Burger King, for example, prefer either having one franchisee for the big city or they are all company stores. This avoids territorial battles when it's time to relocate or open a new nearby restraint.
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Old 02-28-2012, 09:31 AM
Alley Dweller Alley Dweller is offline
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Party B either gave all employs there earned vacation time off, or paid cash for unused time before the date the 10 year lease was up (which for most of us also happened to be our anniversary date where our vacation resets anyway). Today they announced that they are no longer giving vacation time.
To clarify, you were compensated for all of the vacation time you were owed up to that point and then they told you that there would be no more vacation benefits after that point? Correct?

I ask because many of the answers sound as if you were not paid for the vacation time you were owed. It sounds like you said that you were paid all they owed you.

Last edited by Alley Dweller; 02-28-2012 at 09:33 AM..
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  #10  
Old 02-28-2012, 09:41 AM
Skammer Skammer is online now
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I'm not completely familiar with the laws in PA, but in most states, it depends on how your company provides you with vacation. If you "accrue" or "earn" vacation, it's generally considered part of your compensation and you need to be allowed to take it or get paid for it. But if your employee "grants" you vacation, say on your anniversary date, they do not have to pay you if it goes unused.

I work for a large multi-state retail company and in most states, we grant employees a certain number of vacation days on their service anniversary. If they don't use it before their next anniversary, or leave the company for any reason without using it, it's gone; they don't get paid for it. But in some states we are required to pay the vacation balance if they leave.
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  #11  
Old 02-28-2012, 09:44 AM
Dewey Finn Dewey Finn is offline
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It might be that at the time that accumulated vacation time was paid off, the existing company was dissolved, and this eliminated one of its obligations. At that point they might have formed a new company with new vacation policies without violating labor laws, although, of course IANAL.
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Old 02-28-2012, 11:08 AM
The Man In Black The Man In Black is offline
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Originally Posted by Alley Dweller View Post
To clarify, you were compensated for all of the vacation time you were owed up to that point and then they told you that there would be no more vacation benefits after that point? Correct?

I ask because many of the answers sound as if you were not paid for the vacation time you were owed. It sounds like you said that you were paid all they owed you.
We were paid what we were owed for the year. The year reset Feb 14 (the date of the 10 year lease ended). Then yesterday, they told us they will not be giving any vacation time. This was almost 2 weeks into the new "year" in terms of how our vacation runs.
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Old 02-28-2012, 11:12 AM
The Man In Black The Man In Black is offline
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One of the reasons why I ask is that the complex manager (this is a truck stop with several departments) thought we were owed the vacation and was going to give it to us. One of the department heads talked him out of it on the grounds that he couldn't afford for his workers to take time off now.
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  #14  
Old 02-28-2012, 11:21 AM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
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Under federal law and generally under state law, you are only legally entitled to benefits which have already vested. That means you have to be paid for your accrued vacation, but you don't have to be given vacation time moving forward.

As long as you aren't losing time accrued during the hours you already worked, B doesn't seem to have done anything wrong. It would be a little different if we were talking about a retirement plan.

ETA: You are entitled to time accrued before any official policy change- so the day or whatever between when they cashed out your accrued time and announced that they wouldn't grant more.

Last edited by Really Not All That Bright; 02-28-2012 at 11:22 AM..
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  #15  
Old 02-28-2012, 11:33 AM
The Man In Black The Man In Black is offline
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Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post

ETA: You are entitled to time accrued before any official policy change- so the day or whatever between when they cashed out your accrued time and announced that they wouldn't grant more.
The way it works there is that after one year, you get 5 vacation days. After 3 years, 10 days, etc. I have 15 vacation days, and they started over on Feb 15. On Feb 27 they announced that they are not giving vacation time. So to me, it seems like they posted the notice after the vacation time reset.

What makes it hard to figure out is that the lease ended on Feb 14, but the company who was leasing the building is still the ones running the place, the owner of the building has not taken over. Does continuing to run the operation after there lease date mean they can decide to not honor there own vacation policy at any time?

And sorry if my post last night was hard to follow. I posted it after work and was kind of tired.
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  #16  
Old 02-28-2012, 11:42 AM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
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That depends on what their written policies say (such as your employee handbook). Clauses like, "subject to change without notice at the discretion of management" are often included. Whether or not those will get them out of the obligation is a legal question you should discuss with an attorney specializing in Pennsylvania employment law. Your local bar association will be happy to recommend one who will discuss your case for free.

Since the vacation time at issue appears to be about 6 hours or three quarters of a day I'd probably just let it go.
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Old 02-28-2012, 11:52 AM
The Man In Black The Man In Black is offline
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Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post

Since the vacation time at issue appears to be about 6 hours or three quarters of a day I'd probably just let it go.
Is that how vacation is calculated even when the policy is it goes by years worked and is available from the first day the work calendar resets? If that is how it works, I won;t wast my time. But if my co workers and I are entitled to our full vacation, then it is worth looking into.
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Old 02-28-2012, 11:56 AM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
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I highly doubt your employer calculates it by year. IRS accounting rules require employers to list accrued sick and vacation time as a liability, so it's generally calculated by pay period for salaried workers or by the hour for hourly workers.

Are you sure it's actually available from the day the calendar resets? Or is it just that your employer will let you go over your time up to whatever you'll accrue during the year?

Last edited by Really Not All That Bright; 02-28-2012 at 11:57 AM..
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Old 02-28-2012, 12:01 PM
ZenBeam ZenBeam is offline
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It sounds like it all accrues at once. If the OP had quit on Feb. 13, he wouldn't have yet accrued the 15 days, so no liability. The next day, he gets the vacation he earned working the previous year.
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Old 02-28-2012, 12:08 PM
muldoonthief muldoonthief is offline
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Originally Posted by The Man In Black View Post
Is that how vacation is calculated even when the policy is it goes by years worked and is available from the first day the work calendar resets? If that is how it works, I won;t wast my time. But if my co workers and I are entitled to our full vacation, then it is worth looking into.
Many employers will let you borrow ahead for vacation (so they don't have everyone trying to use up their vacation at the end of the year), even though it's officially accruing on each pay period. If it's not spelled out in detail in the employee manual or equivalent, you'll have to look at past practices. E.g. if someone earns 10 days per year, and takes all of them right after the anniversary date, then quits 6 months later, did the company let them keep all the vacation pay, or did they withhold 5 days worth (the amount they didn't accrue yet) from the final paycheck?
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  #21  
Old 02-28-2012, 12:50 PM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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Am I Entitled To Sick Leave? Vacation Pay? Severance Pay?
There is no Pennsylvania labor law which requires an employer to pay an employee not to work. Benefits like sick leave, vacation pay and severance pay are payments to an employee not to be at work. Therefore, an employer only has to pay these benefits if the employer has a policy to pay such benefits or a contract with you to pay these benefits. An employer must follow his/her own rules for these kinds of payments.
However, if you EARNED the vacation - i.e. you work a year, then you are entitled to take a vacation the next year - then you earned that vacation, it is owed you. Most employers have this policy - you work to earn vacation, otherwise people could quit or die on their employer while owing vacation...

If it is inconvenient for them to give time off then they owe you the equivalent money. As far as B is concerned, it's as if everyone is laid off permanently after the April deadline. Anything they owe you, they must pay. It all depends on the practice and wording of the old vacation policy.

I would think people would remember if they did not get a vacation the first year.

(or the way our employer did it, after your first Jan.1, you get X% of annual vacation depending on what percent of the first year you worked... Each Jan 1 thereafter, you get a year's vacation, say 10 days, based on previous year's work. This indicated that your vacation to be taken in 2012 was earned in 2011 and so is money owed you. )

A inherits the staff and it's as if they just hired you all that first day. Whatever you are owed before that is between you and the previous employer, the Franchisee B.

you could talk to A head office, if they seem to give a damn about employees; but if B is departing the scene, even A may not have much leverage to make him be less of a dick.

Last edited by md2000; 02-28-2012 at 12:52 PM..
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Old 02-28-2012, 01:22 PM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
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Originally Posted by ZenBeam View Post
It sounds like it all accrues at once. If the OP had quit on Feb. 13, he wouldn't have yet accrued the 15 days, so no liability. The next day, he gets the vacation he earned working the previous year.
I don't think that's what he's saying. I think he's saying he gets the vacation he's going to earn this year all on February 14.
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Old 02-28-2012, 03:25 PM
The Man In Black The Man In Black is offline
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Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
I don't think that's what he's saying. I think he's saying he gets the vacation he's going to earn this year all on February 14.
Yes. The year reset on the 14th. I should now have 15 days of vacation.
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Old 02-28-2012, 04:00 PM
nivlac nivlac is offline
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Originally Posted by The Man In Black View Post
Yes. The year reset on the 14th. I should now have 15 days of vacation.
The way accrual works is that you could've (if your boss allowed it) taken the 15 days starting on the 14th, but you haven't really earned the vacation yet. If you should quit before the year is finished you may be required to pay back the unearned part of the vacation that you've taken. However, this will depend on your state. That's why you need to consult a lawyer with knowledge of the the employment laws of your state.
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Old 02-28-2012, 04:54 PM
The Man In Black The Man In Black is offline
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The way accrual works is that you could've (if your boss allowed it) taken the 15 days starting on the 14th, but you haven't really earned the vacation yet. If you should quit before the year is finished you may be required to pay back the unearned part of the vacation that you've taken. However, this will depend on your state. That's why you need to consult a lawyer with knowledge of the the employment laws of your state.
Then this wouldn't be something I can contact the labor board about then? If lawyers are needed, than I doubt it will be worth it.

Thanks for the info guys.
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Old 02-28-2012, 04:59 PM
Skammer Skammer is online now
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I think my first step would be just to call HR and ask them to explain why they don't have to give you the vacation you would have earned (or been granted) on your anniversary. Their answer might not satisfy you but it will give you a place to start.

I know that at my employer, you are granted a block of vacation on your anniversary and if your employment ends a week later you don't get paid for what you didn't use. And we have a big department of employment lawyers so I'm sure it's legal (in most states - in some places we do have to pay it out).

Last edited by Skammer; 02-28-2012 at 04:59 PM..
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Old 02-28-2012, 05:09 PM
doreen doreen is offline
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Originally Posted by The Man In Black View Post
Yes. The year reset on the 14th. I should now have 15 days of vacation.
The first question is when you earn those 15 days- were they earned from 2/2011-2/2012, (in which case your probably have to be paid for all of them) or are they the 15 days you would earn from 2/2012-2/2013? ( in which case they may have to pay you for only a few hours)

The second question is who you have actually been working for since 2/15. Yes, I know Party B is still running the restaurant, and Party A is selling the building to corporate in April. But Party B may have already sold/transferred the franchise back to corporate, and is now running the place as employees of the corporate enterprise. There's no reason why the sale of the franchise and the sale of the building must occur at the same time and it would be very unusual for Party B to sell/transfer the franchise to Party A for two months until Party A sells both the franchise and the building to corporate and the costs and hassles ( lawyers,licenses/permits, setting up new accounts with vendors, etc) wouldn't be worth it.
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