I got hired under the premise that I would have 3 days of holidays( also called Paid Time Off, or Leaves in some countries) a few days after I joined.

Now, I am being told that this year I get 3 fewer holidays because of that. I remember having the previous agreement in writing from HR, but I cannot find it yet. Now HR is arguing that there has been a misunderstanding and that since I got 3 more days then, I am going to get 3 fewer days this year, than what I would normally be entitled to.

I feel that allowing this would set a precedent for them to further try to restrict my benefits.

How should I proceed? I feel like it was a verbal pact with HR since I specifically asked for this point several times, since they wanted me to join ASAP while I could have joined after a vacation that I was enjoying then. (I have in writing them telling me to join as soon as I could due to the request of one of the managers). I feel vacation is a perk the same way that salary is.

  • I don't understand. Normally you get granted vacation days you can use during a period of 1 year. Let' say that total is 20 days. If you take 3 at the beginning of the job you have 17 left for later in the year. Or do they try to take more days away? (In my country everybody gets 20 vacation days if you worked the previous year a full year full-time. That's the law. Nobody negotiates this)
    – pistach
    Feb 27, 2018 at 10:58
  • I get 22 days with my contract. However, I did not start at the beggining of the year, so I could only have taken 7 days. Before I joined, I told them I needed 10 days so I could go to my already planned and very soon to come vacations. They agreed. Now they are going to take those extra 3 days from this year holidays. I explain myself poorly, sorry @pistach Feb 27, 2018 at 11:07
  • Swiss here. This seems 100% normal to me. They authorize you to take this 3-days vacation, that doesn't mean they offer them to you. Now I don't know what was the exact deal with HR, but I wouldn't expect anything more than that.
    – Tim
    Feb 27, 2018 at 11:43
  • @monkeyintern What country are you in? Depending on the country different laws would apply to your situation.
    – illustro
    Feb 27, 2018 at 11:43
  • I see, thanks for the perspective @Tim . I guess I messed up not getting it in writing then, or going to work with them after my vacation period. Feb 27, 2018 at 11:44

4 Answers 4


How should I proceed IF I do not find anything on writing?

At this point unless your country's laws allow for some soft of action/arbitration/protection with your employer (Germany and/or the UK come to mind as possible locations) you are probably out of luck. The old saying of "If it isn't in writing, it isn't so" comes in to play here.

The other thing you need to ask your self is how hard is it worth fighting for? Are you willing to risk permanent damage to your relationship with your employer? Are you 100% sure you may have misunderstood what was offered to you?

In summary, unless the laws of the land allows you some protection, if you cannot find something in writing to back up your claims, I would suggest letting this go.

  • I am 100% sure of what I say, maybe not reflected properly when I write it but there is no doubt in my mind, it wasn't said in passing, it was an issue we discussed, they could have perfectly said: Oh we can do that if you agree of having them discounted from next year. But yes, I understand without it being written I may have messed up. And I appreciate the advice, as of right now I am finally happy with my situation, but in the future I feel this will count as the first building stone... They do not honor their word, with me being the only one being harmed by their actions. Feb 26, 2018 at 12:21
  • @monkeyintern It definitely is not an ideal situation for you.
    – Neo
    Feb 26, 2018 at 12:23
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    You don't say where you are located, but when I negotiated additional vacation time, it was documented in my offer letter. But in general, if it's not written down, it doesn't exist
    – DLS3141
    Feb 26, 2018 at 22:25

Without something in writing it is essentially your word against theirs - and I can't see you winning that one. So unless you can find something, anything with the number of days vacation on it supporting your higher figure I think it's a complete non-starter and you're left with the choice of deciding whether the lower amount of days off is acceptable to you if continuing in the role or most likely leaving.

If the amount of vacation really is a deal-breaker for you then you wouldn't have anything to lose by going back to them and suggesting a compromise. Something like:

I appreciate that there has perhaps been a misunderstanding but I was genuinely under the belief that I would be getting X days vaction per year not Y and this was a major factor in my accepting the position. Is there any scope for increasing my number of vaction days for next year to X?

By saying you'd like the number to increase for next year rather than this one you are showing a willingness to be "reasonable" which may incline them to do likewise.

  • It's even worse than that because the amount of days is fixed. It's 22. It's just that since I used more than, they are arguing, would correspond to the amount of time I was here, I am going to get less this year. Next year I will get the normal amount. That would be reasonable under normal circumstances, but I came to work here because other places would not respect my vacation and this would. Except now they backtrack and say, oh no, we meant we would discount you the days. They could have easily said so 7 months ago, is my problem, and I would have had room to choose... Feb 26, 2018 at 13:30
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    @monkeyintern you are wrong, Anytime you are being told # of vacation day you should understand that to be per Annum. So if you start mid year (in June) you would only get half that. Drop the Issue, you are wrong. (unless i am completely misunderstanding you)
    – Morons
    Feb 26, 2018 at 16:23
  • @Morons I disagree, but for the same reason you've given. Holidays are per-annum, unless you have a specific written agreement that you are using holidays from a future year - any additional days off you are granted were given at discretion of the business. If HR do not have an agreement that you've signed to say you will lose FY19 holidays, you are entitled to the full amount stated in your contract (this is made even more definite if you are only being given the statutory minimum allowance).
    – user81330
    Feb 27, 2018 at 11:29

Now they are arguing that there has been a misunderstanding and that since I got 3 more days than what I would have gotten in the 6 months I worked with them last year, this year I am going to get 3 fewer days than what I would normally have.

By "arguing" are they saying they have anything in writing? You should ask for that first. The agreement may have been written up incorrectly. There isn't much they can do about that. If the agreement does not give you the additional time off, but for some reason you took it or were under the impression you could take it, they may be able to deduct those vacation days as you accrue them.

Most of the time, when a company (especially in areas of HR) makes a mistake in favor of the employee, they don't ask the employee to return compensation or give up some of the same benefit in a subsequent period. Usually, it is not that much money. They just want to make sure you don't feel entitled to get it again.

Both parties need to decide how much risk to take to potentially hinder the good faith that has built up so far. Personally, when dealing with programmers or any other highly-skilled position, the company should try to do whatever they can to gain your trust which usually is returned in discretionary effort. Otherwise, punch a time clock, write some code, and just go home.

  • I meant to imply that yes, same as my case, they have nothing on paper. They just realised I was allowed more days last year, and some boss of the person I talked to came to the conclusion that because I got more days last year, that implies I will get less this year. It was a one-off offer, that I took as benefit to join the company. I know for a fact it won't be every year like this, unless there is a re-negociation. But for the period I joined, I was told I could enjoy, and now they retroactively say that I could, if this year I take less. Thank you for your pov!! Feb 27, 2018 at 7:34

How should I proceed IF I do not find anything on writing?

If they will not keep the original agreement, I would look to move on from the company. It is not practical or even necessarily possible to get everything in writing when negotiating a new job or salary raises and promotions when you have the job. If a company will honor their promises at the beginning of the job, then they are very unlikely to start honoring them at any point in the future.

If it is not possible to move on from the company, I would consult a lawyer about the matter. I don't know what country you are in or if your annual paid time off is in writing, but assuming your contract says you get X holidays per year, it may be illegal for them to allow you less than X-3 holidays this year even if they gave you X+3 holidays last year.

  • I probably misspoke. I meant to say that for the offer to join the company, I was told I could enjoy a one-off offer of getting a few more holidays, since I had already planned my days with my previous company. So they told me it doesn't matter, we want you with us, come and still take your rest. And 7 months later turns out I get fewer days this year as compensation. As you said, my problem is: if they do not honor this, what should I trust? :S Feb 27, 2018 at 7:37
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    This is my point exactly. There have been lots of times in my career that I've needed to take people at their word, and if you can't do that I don't know how you can have a good working relationship.
    – dbeer
    Feb 27, 2018 at 14:49
  • Well apparently some people around here think very differently, I can't but agree with you. One would think I am asking to be CEO or for 6 months of paid leave or something insane. Feb 27, 2018 at 15:03

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