After 25 years working for same company, I still only get 2 weeks a year paid vacation. I take no sick days off and I work overtime, but this year no vacation? Or not one sick day and my four 10-hour workdays have turned to five 10-hour days -- sometimes as high as 14 hours -- and I don't get overtime? What are my rights here?? After 25 years do I get my vacation pay because I did not get a day off??
I'm not sure this is a matter of "rights." While two weeks vacation is almost universally acknowledged as the minimum vacation time, even that is at the discretion of your employer, and by no means is he/she required to give it to you.
I'm not sure why your employer made that mandate of "this year no vacation." However, it is a free enterprise economy and you're free to go someplace else if you don't like the deal your current employer is offering you.
So overall your strategy is to be a great employee, and very straightforwardly get some time aside with your boss (or perhaps the owner/president of the company), and bring up the topic of your value to the company, your longevity (25 years is very very rare nowadays), etc. Then simply present as best you can your value to the company and your request to have either more time off or more pay for the time that's "on."
But before you go for your one-on-one please read up on employment law and know what your company is and isn't legally obligated to do for employees. It'll help you with your negotiations and save you from looking ill informed.
Jack Chapman is a Career and Salary Coach, and author of "Negotiating Your Salary: How to Make $1000 a Minute." For more negotiating advice go to www.salarynegotiations.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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