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I'm at a workplace where we have a written vacation/sick leave policy in our employee handbook. However, the recently hired management seems to be getting more vacation/sick leave than stated in the policy and matches or even more than what the managers who have been in the company for years are getting.

Is this legally ok? It makes the managers who have been here for years very upset knowing that this brand new manager, just hired, has as much or more vacation/sick leave than they do.

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Legality probably depends on location. Those new hires might also be better at negotiation. –  Boumbles Mar 31 at 18:13
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For legality consult the parable of the workers in the vineyard ;-) Your contract with your employer does not restrict what contracts you employer can make with others, normally. –  Steve Jessop Apr 1 at 9:19
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In life, you don't get what you deserve - instead, you get what you negotiate. –  Peteris Apr 1 at 11:11
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2 Answers 2

When accepting a new job it is important to realize that everything is negotiable. This is true of everything from salary, vacation time, sick time, and other perks like a company car, or smartphone. Some things are much easier to get depending on the position. The phone and car are pretty easy for a top sales guy that is going to be using the car regularly during the work day anyway.

One of the easiest perks to offer a recruit with 10 years experience at a competitor is to offer them extra vacation and sick time. This costs the company nothing extra but is a value add to an employee looking at having to give up on their 5-10 years with another company and the perks that have accrued. But that same incentive can be used to attract top talent just coming out of school as well. This is also a way of negotiating a salary requirement down. Some people might be willing to give up more than a weeks pay on their yearly salary to get an extra week of vacation.

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Absolutely negotiate every possible thing you can. Salary, PTO, overtime, some of the benefits, heck even a company laptop or iThingy is all up from grabs. If you're reasonable and the company really wants you then they will make it happen. –  Chris Lively Mar 31 at 19:00
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@ChrisLively - I agree but do not ask for things that are not important to you. And the more off the wall the request the more likely the company is to just say never mind we obviously made mistake in our choice. –  ReallyTiredOfThisGame Mar 31 at 19:06
    
A company is obligated to compensate an employee if they have sick days accrued when they leave, so you can't say it doesn't cost anything or they would certainly give more of it in the US (Which is way behind the rest of the world on average.). –  JeffO Mar 31 at 19:21
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saying that extra vacation time costs the company nothing is not always true. It depends on how you are paid. i.e. is vacation accrued at the salary at which it was earned or are you paid for vacation at the rate you are earning when you take the vacation, do you earn vacation while on vacation? Health benefits/office overhead are all paid. so really vacation can cost the company a noticeable fraction of your salary. –  Brad Mar 31 at 19:46
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Union type politics aside, leave is defined in the contract between the employee and the employer. The contract may simply state "as in the company handbook" or it may state a particular definition, in which case, this will supersede the handbook.

So, in short, yes, it's almost certainly legally okay unless specific discrimination against a protected group can be shown (Usually gender or age) and to some degree quite common. Just as negotiating different salary terms or other perks is.

In fact, I ended up with more vacation than others due to a mistake made in my contract generation. That's just life.

Given that you have the asked the question, I'm going to assume you're one of these upset managers so I'll give you a nugget of advice:

Comparing your own rewards to others is natural, but getting bitter and upset will not achieve anything. If you feel it must change, either negotiate better rewards for yourself without trying to make comparisons to others (I.e., justifying it on your own merits) or simply move on and negotiate a better package elsewhere.

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Two other things: 1) It may be an illusion that the others are getting more vacation. They may be working overtime and being given time off to compensate 2) they may have specifically negotiated extra vacation, and taken a pay cut to compensate. –  DJClayworth Mar 31 at 18:23
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This one falls under 'life advice', but is no less valid for this scenario. Unless you know all the details of the candidate and his contract, you can't really make equal comparisons. Maybe they negotiated for more vacation but took a hit on their pay. Maybe they are worth more, or less, to the company and their benefits and pay shake out accordingly. Or maybe they just negotiated better. –  JFA Mar 31 at 22:42
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