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I am in a bit complicated situation. I was hired back in 2016 May by the current employer. During the hiring process, I was told that I would have up to 28 vacation days proportionately increase based on the years of service I provide. This was communicated verbally, and I believed what he told me. Upon hired, I signed the offer letter that stated my vacation days "starts" with 18 days. Offer letter did not mention anything about the "cap".

And a year passed, in 2017 May, I received an email from HR telling me that they forgot sending me an employment contract which I was supposed to read and sign when I was hired in 2016 May. They attached the contract documents, and I found that it says that my vacation days is actually capped to 20 vacation days, not 28.

The 28-vacation days cap applies to those who were hired long time ago and the hiring manger was one of those. He didn't do proper research for how many days the new hires would get, and hence he misinformed me.

At the same time, HR made a mistake not sending me an employment contract before I sign the offer letter.

I voiced to the hiring manager but he seems to be reluctant to proceed with fixing it.

I was wondering that, if this cannot be fixed internally, what external actions (e.g. consulting with labour laws?) are available? I live in Canada.

Edit: clarified 28 days as 28 vacation days.

  • You might want to clear up the "days" - 20 business days = 28 consecutive days. It could be that the wording of the contracts have changed. – JustSaying Jun 20 '18 at 19:53
  • Thanks for pointing that out. No, it is not business days. I confirmed it with my manager. – eeee Jun 20 '18 at 20:06
  • @john did you read the employee handbook when you boarded? That's why that's there... but nobody ever reads it. – RandomUs1r Jun 20 '18 at 22:58
  • Umm, sorry I am not sure if I understood you correctly. Why does reading an employee handbook matter in this case? – eeee Jun 21 '18 at 3:33
  • It would be worth checking if you recieve mandatory vacation days as well - such as bank holidays or the office shutting down over Christmas. In some offices, those holidays don't count against your allowance. – Bilkokuya Jun 21 '18 at 12:33
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You may have some wiggle room here, since the company made two mistake: wrong vacation cap, no contract. By the way: you made two mistakes too: you didn't ask for a written contract and you didn't read the employee handbook which typically contains all current rules and policies). But let's skip that part for now.

The key is to have this conversation very polite and respectfully but also have some firm goals (or goal options) in your back pocket.

I would try to schedule a meeting with both HR and your boss and open with something like

"Thanks for meeting with me, I really appreciate your time. When I was hired I was promised a vacation cap of 28 days and I never received anything in writing that said otherwise. Now just recently I found out that my actual vacation cap is only 20 days. That was quite unexpected for me. It's a substantial reduction in benefits and, honestly, I'm a little disappointed about this. What kind of options do we have find some mutually agreeable solution ?"

They may come up with something themselves or they may stone wall. Here are a few options that you can suggest

  1. Meet in the middle: raise your cap by 4 days
  2. Vacation days have $$$ value (about 1/250 of your annual salary per day). Ask for full or partial cash compensation as a raise or bonus
  3. Ask for more a liberal unpaid time off policy
  4. Ask for more flex time, e.g. 8 days in the year you can work from home, more lee-way start/stop hours. 9 days with 10 hours each + 1 day off. etc.
  5. Any other work time related benefit you may be interested in
  6. Any combination of the above

How hard you want to push really depends on your current work situation: how much do you want/need this job and how critical are you for the business. If you are willing to quit over this, you can exert significant pressure. "I'm sorry, this benefit is really important to me and I was relying on that promise. For personal reasons I need to make this work one way or another." However, don't do this unless you are actually willing to walk away.

Another good question for you is "would I have taken the job anyway, if the hiring manager would have told the correct number (20)". If the answer is "yes", you really have nothing to lose and can only come out ahead of the negotiations, unless you manage to anger or annoy people.

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Quite the dilemma!

In my experience, leveraging laws and internal escalations don't help very much. Usually they just annoy a bunch of people and risk getting on people's bad side. After a polite request fails, one option would be to obtain a job offer elsewhere. You could then explain how you'd really like to stay with your current company but need a little more. Vacation days is just one form of compensation - you might be able to leverage more vacation days or other types of compensation (salary, responsibilities, tuition reimbursement, or a great parking spot).

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