I accepted job offer based on agreed two weeks paid vacation available year one. When I received written job offer from recruiter that negotiated on my behalf job offer stated "vacation per employee handbook". I asked recruiter to request copy of employee handbook to verify. She was not able to obtain employee handbook and encouraged me to sign offer as time was of the essence.

Upon starting I read through employee handbook which stated standard vacation was one week available after successful completion of one year of employment, unless otherwise agreed. I immediately sent HR an email stating it was agreed I would be provided two weeks and wanted clarification. I met with HR and she provided me verbal that as an "experienced salaried professional" I was entitled to the two weeks as agreed in job offer negotiations. I failed to pursue written documentation and after noticing my pay stubs do not reference vacation balance HR conveniently does not remember our discussion. She is telling me the decision will be up to the new company president who was not involved in my hiring process.

I contacted the recruiter and they do not have any documentation either. The only documented proof of discrepancy is the email I sent to HR on my 3rd day of employment. What rights or options do I have at this point?

  • 2
    This needs a location tag ( where are you)?
    – Neo
    Aug 23, 2017 at 18:27
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    It's really too late to fix this, but next time when you negotiate something like this, don't sign the offer letter unless it reflects exactly what you negotiated. And after any verbal discussion, also follow up with an email stating what was discussed.
    – HLGEM
    Aug 23, 2017 at 18:30
  • @HLGEM That is the right way to go. Been bit myself once on that. Only once though, I learn. :-)
    – Neo
    Aug 23, 2017 at 18:33
  • Danielle, How did the 3rd party recruiter pressure you to sign the contract? Did he do it by email? If so, please find that email. Also, did the 3rd party recruiter tell you that he had put in the request for the employee handbook? Also, how was the initial contract received? by FedEx? or as an attachment by email? If by FedEx, try finding the envelope and the actual weight of the enveloppe that was paid for. Aug 23, 2017 at 22:33
  • What country? Even 2 weeks seems to be very little, most likely under the minimum defined in your labour law. Depending on your location, such clauses might be illegal.
    – user50700
    Aug 24, 2017 at 9:47

3 Answers 3


Really the only move you have at this point is to talk to your boss, not HR, about this. Tell him or her what you were promised and that they didn't give you want was negotiated and that this is a deal breaker for you and you will need to find another job. Let him/her work the system for you with the new CEO if he wants to keep you.

However, the problem with this tactic is that you need to have already proven your value to your boss and you need to be aware that they may call your bluff and you will have to resign. For some bosses there is a possibility that they will release you on the spot,(so be prepared to face this as a consequence if you choose to do this), but most managers know that they want to keep employees who are producing and making them happy is a key part of that.

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    Even if it is a deal-breaker, just saying "this is a really big deal to me" conveys roughly the same message without coming off as an ultimatum. Unless you have another offer waiting, an ultimatum doesn't seem like the best idea. Aug 23, 2017 at 19:57

You made several mistakes

Mistake 1

Don't go to HR. As we are fond to say around here, HR is not your friend. Going to your new boss would have been better and then he could have helped you clarify it as well as having a witness, but even better would be...

Mistake 2

Never sign a contract or employment agreement unless it contains everything you agreed to. Ever.

Mistake 3

Verbal agreements are worth the paper they're written on. When HR told you verbally, she didn't really do anything other than expel some air. HR does NOTHING unless it's in writing. Their main job is paperwork so for them to promise something without paperwork means absolutely nothing. And I do mean paperwork where possible. They're a lot harder to deny than an email.

So what can you do? You can talk to the president and if he doesn't honor it, all you can really do is quit, which is exactly what I would do. Would you quit if they just took a weeks pay? Because that's what they're doing here.

  • 1
    This meme of 'HR is not your friend' is too broad to be useful across companies, countries, cultures etc. Not sure what value it adds.
    – user29055
    Aug 24, 2017 at 9:14
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    @Midas I can only speak about the US. It's not a meme. It's an observation based on experience in many companies and observing many more over my 34 year career. I'm sorry you don't like that it keeps getting said, but it's the truth, the same way that a cop is not your friend, any lawyer but your own isn't your friend and your insurance company isn't your friend. They may not be your enemy, but people need to learn to stop thinking of HR as their advocate because that is not their role. It is a fact. Too many people confuse HR with being akin to their union rep.
    – Chris E
    Aug 24, 2017 at 13:38
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    @Midas I can't emphasize enough that here in the US, Human Resources is not there as an advocate for the employees. They exist to protect the interests of the company.
    – DLS3141
    Aug 24, 2017 at 14:32
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    the OP has not identified their country.
    – user29055
    Aug 24, 2017 at 15:57
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    @ChristopherEstep this wouldn't be bad. Actually, questions that dont' contain the most important facts are better to be closed as 'unclear what you are asking'. Sorry, a SO question without a language tag is also useless.
    – user50700
    Aug 25, 2017 at 6:25

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. This is a legal question. We do not answer legal questions like this on here. That being said...

  1. You should ask your current boss to see if he/she can intervene on your behalf. If that option works, then so be it, you do not need to move on to step 2.

  2. You should nail down what was said and follow any verbal interaction you have with her with an actual email confirming any of the details that are important to you.

As per our conversation yesterday, below is the actual email I had actually sent you at the time.

Hopefully, since I am the only one who claims to remember exactly what your verbal response was, I would ask that you give me the benefit of the doubt and give me the two weeks of vacation originally requested.

Now of course, she could deny what she said recently, or she could deny your interpretation of what she said recently, but it's important to nail down what was said (even if she disagrees with it).

Because whether this matter is pursued with the CEO (or later on in some other venue), having an actual written record of the actual disagreement is very important (because for all you know, a week or two from now, her memory of the events could shift even more).

Should something like this happen again, just cross out the relevant part in the contract, write in what was discussed, put your initials next to it, and send it back saying in your cover letter that you haven't received the employee handbook yet, so that you've crossed that part out, and that you've amended the contract to what was agreed during the interview.

The idea is that you should never ask permission to formalize something that was already discussed and already agreed upon, you should just change it yourself, initial it or email it, and bring the change to their attention (to make sure you can't be accused of hiding that change retroactively in the contract).

  • I don't think escalation of the matter to such proportion is needed for the matter at hand and may end up alienating people for no real reason. I voted down for the escalated direct confrontation approach. All the parties included are supposed to work together under the same company, taking things to court is the sure way to accrue tension, make HR dislike you(potentially holding a grudge), let alone the $ thrown on lawyers for no real benefit
    – Leon
    Aug 24, 2017 at 7:04
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    @Leon, I agree, my email does sound too confrontational, I need to work on it some more, but also note I'm not advocating that he threatens the employer with court, only that he writes down what both parties have agreed happened (before HR changes its mind yet again). Aug 24, 2017 at 7:22

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