If there is one thing most people can agree on, it is that 2020 was not a pleasant year by any stretch of the imagination. For employees, however, it has been especially harsh, with many workers missing out on vacations they were legally entitled to, or being forced to use their vacation days to comply with quarantine procedures. In some cases, this has created complex situations for employers, who have had to wrestle with adjusting to problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Problem One: People Not Having Enough Vacation Days
One of the biggest, most obvious issues that many employees have faced is a lack of vacation days. Many states do not set standards on whether employers should offer employees vacation days, leading to wildly disparate policies on vacation days. Some employers, for example, require employees to take all vacation days by the end of the year or lose them, while others allow rollover.
In both cases, however, employers have run into the issue of employees not having enough vacation days for their personal needs. The law only requires employers to cover employees for one COVID-related quarantine, for example, meaning additional quarantines often come out of employees’ sick or vacation days. This means employees who are forced to quarantine more than once literally cannot get sick again, much less use those days for an actual vacation.
Problem Two: People Not Wanting to Take Vacations
On the other hand, there is the issue that many people who have vacation days have not wanted to go at a time when travel is heavily restricted and going anywhere with large crowds puts them at risk of coronavirus infection. Even when employers require their employees to take vacation days by the end of the year, there is nowhere for them to go, so many employees have decided to just hold off until they can travel again. In the case where employees can trade in their vacation days, many employees have chosen to do that for a tangible financial benefit, rather than save for a vacation they will never use.
Employers Struggle to Account for Employee Needs
Meanwhile, employers have largely been caught flat-footed by the change in employee needs due to the coronavirus pandemic. Some have made emergency changes to their policies to allow employees to carry over or trade in their vacation days, while others have added more days to give employees more leeway. These adjustments have been piecemeal, however, and many employers fear that these ad hoc accommodations will result in a bookkeeping nightmare. Regardless, if there is one thing COVID-19 has made clear, it is this: many employers simply do not have vacation policies that accommodate employees’ needs.
If you have gotten into a legal dispute with your employer, it is important that you seek the guidance of an experienced New York employment lawyer who can protect your legal rights and advocate on your behalf. Steven Mitchell Sack, the Employee’s Lawyer, is a New York employment lawyer with more than 39 years’ experience handling the many aspects of employment law. To schedule an appointment with New York City employment lawyer Steven Mitchell Sack, call (917) 371-8000 or visit his contact page.