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View Full Version : Legality of forced unpaid vacation / time off


EKKC
06-08-2009, 08:39 PM
I know this touches on labor law and the law may differ state to state here in America, but I have a question that I hope some of you can answer

How long can a company force an employee to go on unpaid vacation / time off without really having to fire the said employee?

I mean I've heard of furlough which is working 4 days as opposed to 5 and you get a 20% cut. But can a company "single out" an employee on repeated unpaid leave (reason being the employee salary being too high)? The only benefit I can think of is that the employer wouldn't have to pay any unemployment benefits to this person while not having to pay his salary (keeping benefits)

dmw16
06-08-2009, 08:41 PM
for clarification a furlough is any unpaid day off. It does not have to be working 4 days then having a 5th off.

spidey07
06-08-2009, 08:44 PM
Tagged. I would guess 30or 60 days. If there is a contract in place then that would stipulate terms and agreements.

-edit-
Are they cutting your hours or are you being sidelined for weeks/months at a time? If the former then nothing is wrong with that.

EKKC
06-08-2009, 08:56 PM
Originally posted by: spidey07
Tagged. I would guess 30or 60 days. If there is a contract in place then that would stipulate terms and agreements.

-edit-
Are they cutting your hours or are you being sidelined for weeks/months at a time? If the former then nothing is wrong with that.

not me, a friend. he's a consultant being on the bench / unbillable time and is told to stay home without pay.

spidey07
06-08-2009, 09:06 PM
Originally posted by: EKKC
Originally posted by: spidey07
Tagged. I would guess 30or 60 days. If there is a contract in place then that would stipulate terms and agreements.

-edit-
Are they cutting your hours or are you being sidelined for weeks/months at a time? If the former then nothing is wrong with that.

not me, a friend. he's a consultant being on the bench / unbillable time and is told to stay home without pay.

That's normal then. It's the risk we take as consultant and normally part of the contract. As a consultant you get paid a crap ton of money, but with that comes increased risk. This is the risk side.

loki8481
06-08-2009, 09:06 PM
I'd imagine it depends on the state.

I've got a friend who specializes in employment/labor law and he was saying that a lot of the furloughs that he's seen in NJ are purposefully scheduled to be just short of what would require the company to pay unemployment.

MikeyIs4Dcats
06-08-2009, 09:09 PM
my father in law works for Goodyear and was furloughed 6 full weeks last year.

MrChad
06-08-2009, 09:25 PM
Originally posted by: spidey07
That's normal then. It's the risk we take as consultant and normally part of the contract. As a consultant you get paid a crap ton of money, but with that comes increased risk. This is the risk side.

If he were independent, perhaps. I'm a salaried worker at a consulting firm and I've never heard of taking forced unpaid leave (and I also do not make nearly as much as my billable rate).

iGas
06-08-2009, 09:30 PM
The company can ask their employee for an unpaid leave indefinitely, and the employee have the option to look for another job.

A coworker of mine was asked to have 4 unpaid time off for 2 weeks. He quit and found another job after the first 2 unpaid days off.

EKKC
06-08-2009, 09:36 PM
Originally posted by: MrChad
Originally posted by: spidey07
That's normal then. It's the risk we take as consultant and normally part of the contract. As a consultant you get paid a crap ton of money, but with that comes increased risk. This is the risk side.

If he were independent, perhaps. I'm a salaried worker at a consulting firm and I've never heard of taking forced unpaid leave (and I also do not make nearly as much as my billable rate).

yes. that's whats happening.

he is a employee to a small consulting company getting paid W2 salaries and benefits. he is just no longer engaged at a client and is unbillable. he is being told to stay away multiple times already (already 2 two-week periods). the latest one is a 4 week unpaid time off. but they are not paying him and not firing him.

summit
06-08-2009, 10:09 PM
well he can quit or resign, but he will lose his health benefits and such.

spidey07
06-08-2009, 10:40 PM
Originally posted by: MrChad
Originally posted by: spidey07
That's normal then. It's the risk we take as consultant and normally part of the contract. As a consultant you get paid a crap ton of money, but with that comes increased risk. This is the risk side.

If he were independent, perhaps. I'm a salaried worker at a consulting firm and I've never heard of taking forced unpaid leave (and I also do not make nearly as much as my billable rate).

I'm a salaried non-exempt consultant. I'm used to being on the bench without pay just as much as I'm used to getting overtime pay. It comes with the territory, at least in my world. It's quite normal, IMHO. If you aren't billing, you don't get paid. Similar to if you aren't selling, you don't get paid.

BoomerD
06-08-2009, 11:42 PM
Unless there's a contract, for the most part, in at-will states, the company does NOT have to provide you paid work...or pay for time off. They are free to sit you at home, without pay, for as long as they choose. In such cases however, the employee is free to find other work.

Working construction, this was fairly common, especially during the winter months. (usually one-2 days off isn't enough to get unemployment for the week) BUT, if I was off more than a couple of days, I'd be on the phone looking for other work.

Could the company be trying to tell your friend something?

MrChad
06-09-2009, 12:16 AM
Originally posted by: spidey07
Originally posted by: MrChad
Originally posted by: spidey07
That's normal then. It's the risk we take as consultant and normally part of the contract. As a consultant you get paid a crap ton of money, but with that comes increased risk. This is the risk side.

If he were independent, perhaps. I'm a salaried worker at a consulting firm and I've never heard of taking forced unpaid leave (and I also do not make nearly as much as my billable rate).

I'm a salaried non-exempt consultant. I'm used to being on the bench without pay just as much as I'm used to getting overtime pay. It comes with the territory, at least in my world. It's quite normal, IMHO. If you aren't billing, you don't get paid. Similar to if you aren't selling, you don't get paid.

Interesting. I work for a smaller company, and we've never done that to my knowledge, but it makes sense to a degree. If I were in that position I would be looking for another job, however.

Bignate603
06-09-2009, 12:43 AM
Originally posted by: EKKC
Originally posted by: MrChad
Originally posted by: spidey07
That's normal then. It's the risk we take as consultant and normally part of the contract. As a consultant you get paid a crap ton of money, but with that comes increased risk. This is the risk side.

If he were independent, perhaps. I'm a salaried worker at a consulting firm and I've never heard of taking forced unpaid leave (and I also do not make nearly as much as my billable rate).

yes. that's whats happening.

he is a employee to a small consulting company getting paid W2 salaries and benefits. he is just no longer engaged at a client and is unbillable. he is being told to stay away multiple times already (already 2 two-week periods). the latest one is a 4 week unpaid time off. but they are not paying him and not firing him.

If he's a W2 employee I would start to ask what's going on. They need to fire him or give him work.

EKKC
06-09-2009, 08:16 AM
Originally posted by: BoomerD
Unless there's a contract, for the most part, in at-will states, the company does NOT have to provide you paid work...or pay for time off. They are free to sit you at home, without pay, for as long as they choose. In such cases however, the employee is free to find other work.

Working construction, this was fairly common, especially during the winter months. (usually one-2 days off isn't enough to get unemployment for the week) BUT, if I was off more than a couple of days, I'd be on the phone looking for other work.

Could the company be trying to tell your friend something?

they are. i just don't think it's right to let someone "rot" and not let him go / layoff to pay unemployment benefits

amdhunter
06-09-2009, 08:27 AM
I have a 1 week furlough coming up July 4th weekend. I tagged on another week of vacation onto it.

I can't wait. :)

L1FE
06-09-2009, 08:35 AM
I've noticed this happening mainly at small consulting firms. If they never plan on utilizing your friend again, what they're doing is pretty unethical. The benefit of being on furlough as opposed to being fired is the promise that his job will continue at some point...so if there's a project in the pipeline he/she should be ok. One of the biggest benefits of being at a larger consulting firm is that they typically can afford to keep large benches (with pay).

Marlin1975
06-09-2009, 08:44 AM
Check with the state, but if they are not paid for a certain amount of time ( X weeks) then they can get unemployment during that time.

sjwaste
06-09-2009, 08:59 AM
Originally posted by: spidey07
Originally posted by: MrChad
Originally posted by: spidey07
That's normal then. It's the risk we take as consultant and normally part of the contract. As a consultant you get paid a crap ton of money, but with that comes increased risk. This is the risk side.

If he were independent, perhaps. I'm a salaried worker at a consulting firm and I've never heard of taking forced unpaid leave (and I also do not make nearly as much as my billable rate).

I'm a salaried non-exempt consultant. I'm used to being on the bench without pay just as much as I'm used to getting overtime pay. It comes with the territory, at least in my world. It's quite normal, IMHO. If you aren't billing, you don't get paid. Similar to if you aren't selling, you don't get paid.

There are consulting firms that put you on the bench without pay?

I'm at a big 5 firm and salary is salary, whether client-billable or not, but I didn't think this was unique to large firms.

alkemyst
06-09-2009, 09:00 AM
Originally posted by: EKKC
Originally posted by: spidey07
Tagged. I would guess 30or 60 days. If there is a contract in place then that would stipulate terms and agreements.

-edit-
Are they cutting your hours or are you being sidelined for weeks/months at a time? If the former then nothing is wrong with that.

not me, a friend. he's a consultant being on the bench / unbillable time and is told to stay home without pay.

keyword is consultant. He is not an employee of the company so all bets are off.

Usually a consultant can be called or not called at a companies whim, this is why those that are real consultants put together a contract of minimum work as well as exit clauses for lack of utilization.

I have learned most will promise far more work than gets done hoping for a 'package' deal. I always get half up front and then the rest paid out over the course of the job for anything more than a few days.

SacrosanctFiend
06-09-2009, 09:13 AM
Originally posted by: EKKC
I know this touches on labor law and the law may differ state to state here in America, but I have a question that I hope some of you can answer

How long can a company force an employee to go on unpaid vacation / time off without really having to fire the said employee?

I mean I've heard of furlough which is working 4 days as opposed to 5 and you get a 20% cut. But can a company "single out" an employee on repeated unpaid leave (reason being the employee salary being too high)? The only benefit I can think of is that the employer wouldn't have to pay any unemployment benefits to this person while not having to pay his salary (keeping benefits)



First, is the person exempt or non-exempt?

Second, are the furloughs a week or more in length?

Third, the employer does not pay unemployment benefits, the state does. The employer pays into the fund as a SUI tax based of wages paid each quarter multiplied by a tax rate based off of their turnover rate.

Fourth, if he is furloughed and lives in New York, he is eligible for unemployment after his first one-week waiting period.

Gibson486
06-09-2009, 09:43 AM
Originally posted by: EKKC
Originally posted by: spidey07
Tagged. I would guess 30or 60 days. If there is a contract in place then that would stipulate terms and agreements.

-edit-
Are they cutting your hours or are you being sidelined for weeks/months at a time? If the former then nothing is wrong with that.

not me, a friend. he's a consultant being on the bench / unbillable time and is told to stay home without pay.

he's a consulatnt. If ther is no work for him, he does not get paid. He is essentially a contractor.

EKKC
06-10-2009, 12:26 PM
i wasn't being clear in the OP i guess:

he is an employee to the company
only his title is consultant, the company sends him out to bill clients, but normally, regardless of being on the bench or billable he is getting the same pay (except for billable time bonuses)
he is on w2 payroll as any other normal employees, not a 1099 contractor.

Originally posted by: SacrosanctFiend

First, is the person exempt or non-exempt?

Second, are the furloughs a week or more in length?

Third, the employer does not pay unemployment benefits, the state does. The employer pays into the fund as a SUI tax based of wages paid each quarter multiplied by a tax rate based off of their turnover rate.

Fourth, if he is furloughed and lives in New York, he is eligible for unemployment after his first one-week waiting period.

1) no idea what that even means
2) two 2-weeks already, now another one
4) he lives in New York state.