Changing Company Holiday Schedule

Our company's employee handbook lists the company paid vacation schedule. On the bottom of the page, there is the disclaimer that the schedule is subject to change. The schedule includes, as paid vacation days, every major Jewish Holiday in addition to National Holidays. This amounted to approximately 22 days a year. The company has now, starting March 1, revised this year's holiday schedule and will no longer honor Jewish Holidays as an automatic Paid Holiday. Instead, the company is giving the 7 National Holidays and an additional 5 floating Holidays per year, which amounts to 12 days a year...this is a serious subtraction to the policy for the past 10 years and imposes a potential financial burden on the Orthodox community of company employees.. Does the company have a right to impose such a change.

1 answer  |  asked Mar 14, 2007 1:04 PM [EST]  |  applies to New York

Answers (1)

David M. Lira
Losing Paid Holidays

There are really two questions here. The first is whether the employer can change the number of paid holidays. The answer is yes.

This is another permutation of the employment of will doctrine. It can be stated in a number of ways including: An employer may change the terms and conditions of employment at any time for any reason, or no reason at all. Another way of puting this is that the employer can take away any or all of your paid holidays at any time and for any reason.

Incidentally, what you are experiencing is part of a national trend over the past 25 years or so. The fact of the matter is that American workers (the trend has been different in, for example, Europe or even, believe it or not, Japan)over the past 25 years or so have been required to work longer and longer hours for less and less compensation. It is a by product of conservative economics.

The other question raised by this query has to do with religious holidays. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the New York State Human Rights Law, an employer has a duty to accommodate the religious observances of its employees, including religious holidays. Although an employer is not required to pay employees for time off taken for religious holidays (it is not considered to be a penalty to not be paid for time not worked), an employer may not penalize employees for taking time off for religious holidays.

To get a religious accommodation for religious holidays, employees need to ask for the accommodation.

posted by David M. Lira  |  Mar 15, 2007 08:54 AM [EST]

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