My US company recently acquired a division of a UK company. All of the UK employees were brought to work in the US office. The company paid in part or full for their relocation expense, depending on how essential they were. To make a long story short, the US company didnt do the proper due diligence and/or contract negotiations. The company thought they were giving them the standard US 2 weeks, but in fact they were entitled to their accrued vacation time from the previous company. This means even the lowest level employee that came from the UK had 2 months of vacation time. More tenured and senior UK employees have 3 months.

None of the US employees have a problem with the relocation assistance, but we have an issue with the vacation time. New and established US employees come in with 2 weeks vacation and earn more time the longer they are employed with the company. This caps at 1 month after a long period of time. Only one US employee has reached the cap. The UK employees have competitive salaries AND extremely long vacation times. The US employees are not happy with the fact the UK employees are being paid the same as us, but have massive vacations allowances. UK employees go on vacation and we are stuck doing our work and theirs.

A few people have complained to management, but they just brush it off saying there is nothing they can do.

Is there anything we can do?

  • 8
    Are they coming in with 2 or 3 months accrued, or are they getting 2 or 3 months of vacation a year?
    – Anketam
    May 24, 2018 at 22:28
  • 4
    >Is there anything we can do? No. What do you expect, have their hard work entitlements taken away so as not to upset local workers? Try putting yourself in their shoes.
    – solarflare
    May 24, 2018 at 23:15
  • 5
    You could move to the UK?
    – Erik
    May 25, 2018 at 5:17
  • 2
    This is a weird question. Accrued versus per year is completely different. If they're on vacation 3 months of the year, that's weird. If they accrued 3 months of vacation from several years of work, that's their own holidays. You can't exactly expect them to give it up.
    – insidesin
    May 25, 2018 at 5:30
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    @insidesin: As a Belgian example: I work 40h/week on a 38h/week contract. My contract stipulates that this entitles me to 12 days of extra leave days (to balance the hours). My contract also stipulates 5 extra days (given by the company). I also get 3 yearly "bail" days (paid unplanned one day leave). Adding that to our base level of 20 days = 40 days total = 2 months. All of these leave days are part of the contract that is signed,and therefore apply for as long as the contract applies. The bail days aren't really leave days (can't plan them) but they are still PTO.
    – Flater
    May 25, 2018 at 8:48

5 Answers 5



Well to be more precise there is nothing constructive you can do about the situation. Just because your company messed up one negotiation with one group of people does not mean they have to reward a totally different group.

The company has already agreed on a set form of compensation for you and your fellow coworkers. Before this event occurred it was good and you were content with it. After this event occurred you incurred no loss in your compensation. If you had not known about this incident you would have still been content. You have to approach these situations with the same mind set as openly discussing salaries with your coworkers. In short you have to accept that if someone is getting paid more than you for doing what you perceive as less work does not make what you are getting paid any bit inferior.

If you want to do further reading on salary discussions:

  • 1
    And the UK employees where contractually owed that - its rare but some times US employees are bound by agreements made in the UK May 24, 2018 at 22:41

Imagine yourself in the shoes of the UK-staff: First they have to decide between being unemployed or relocate across the globe, an now you want them to loose their hard earned benefits!

Your bosses must have seen some value in buying the UK asset despite the cost and obstacles of relocation and assuming UK-made work-contacts.

I have the feeling now they try to play the staff against one another, because this:

UK employees go on vacation and we are stuck doing our work and theirs.

Is not your coworkers fault, but a management failure. They bought a certain amount of time from certain people and that does not see to suffice in doing the work. You would not get a dime more for yourself, had they made a different deal.

So stop begrudging your colleagues (be happy for them) and settle your workload problems with your management. If you keep the current attitude you will only get a toxic workplace for everyone and gain nothing.

Remember, you have not entered in a contract with your coworkers, you have entered into contract with your employer. If you are not happy, renegotiate - but that should have nothing to do with what deals your employer has with other people.

  • 4
    @EdHeal: I agree. The core of the question is essentially being envious of a different work culture and its benefits. While I can understand that it's a bit more in your face when working with them in the same office (as opposed to over email); the underlying assumption that the UK staff's contractual leave should somehow be taken from them because the US staff is envious is a really compromising and toxic mindset, essentially boiling down to "if I can't have it, you can't either".
    – Flater
    May 25, 2018 at 8:55

There are two parts of your question:

the personal outrage over the accrued vacation time: If your company acquires another company they also acquire their liabilities/debts, together with the assets. If my employer owes me paid vacation time for times where I worked (and did not take the full holidays), it's nothing different from any other monetary debt which the company has. So if my employer is acquired by another company y I assume that the buyer did due diligence and find these liability in the books. it is not your position to judge this process, and it's improfessional to complain about the result to your manager.

The second part is about personally perceived unfairness in working contracts. It's the same answer and always: never compare your salary or other compensations to others. If you are unhappy, quit your job and relocate around the half world and you will get another deal.

(As a personal remark: relocation to US would be something which my employer needed to really make attractive to me)

  • Note that the vacation time is not necessarily accrued. Being European myself and knowing the work culture (though not UK specific), I read OP's question as referring to yearly vacation, not one-time accrued leave. 2 months is not that unusual. 3 months is more unusual but there are ways to get there (I listed possibilities in a comment to the question if you're interested).
    – Flater
    May 25, 2018 at 9:17
  • @flater: yes, bite 2 months for every employee and 3 months for seniors as the expectation and posed in the question is pretty unlikely
    – Sascha
    May 28, 2018 at 13:33
  • Not so unlikely. Most office workers here (and note that I'm nowhere near management level) get 32 days to begin with, which is fairly close to 2 months already. And if you read my comments to the question, you can see that there's many simple ways to increase this.
    – Flater
    May 28, 2018 at 13:39
  • Yes. But "paid holidays" is different from "overtime compensation".
    – Sascha
    May 29, 2018 at 11:55

You are really not in business to judge somebody else vacation time. Those UK staffs are entitled to receive their legal benefits.

You may also take some sick leaves to compensate yourself for the unfairness.

Not feeling happy? You could resign your US position and then move to the UK yourself for better vacation benefits. That will make your new position equal to your former UK based but working in US workmates.

  • You may also take some sick leaves to compensate yourself for the unfairness. This is highly unethical. And, as far as I understand US culture, also unpaid time off, so not even a fair "compensation" even when disregarding ethics.
    – Flater
    May 25, 2018 at 9:15
  • @Flater You may want to downvote me if you think the answer is inappropriate.
    – SmallChess
    May 25, 2018 at 9:16

Is there anything we can do?

Unless you are in a position to decide on the vacation time alloted to each person, I am afraid that this is something management or the owners should sort out regarding the change of contract the UK workers should have had.

I don't know the specifics of the contracts involved, but it seems that this vacation time is the one they are owed... After using that time the Vacation time they get from then on could start counting as it is done with US people.

This also depends on their contracts, chances are they could have negotiated different vacation times than yours.

  • Contracts stipulate the legal framework in which they were signed. Unless the contracts were renegotiated (which OP says they weren't), the UK employees' yearly leave would still be subject to UK standards, not US standards. If the UK grants more paid leave days than the US (US is 0 if I'm not mistaken?), then the UK staff will always have more leave.
    – Flater
    May 25, 2018 at 9:20
  • If the company tried to negotiate to change the UK employees to US holiday entitlements it would have cost them an awful lot of money so it's no wonder they didn't.
    – deep64blue
    Aug 5, 2019 at 16:37

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