Can I deny an employee’s vacation request if they’ve recently used their COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave?

Denying your employees’ vacation requests because they used their California COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (SPSL) could result in a claim that you are retaliating against them for using that protected leave.

Employees who use SPSL are protected from retaliation under the Labor Code, which prohibits an employer from discriminating in any manner against an employee for using those COVID-related sick days.

If multiple employees are requesting to use their vacation time for the same time period, employers should look to their employee handbook’s vacation request policy for guidance. If the employee handbook does not specify how vacation requests are considered, then the employer should look to its past practice for guidance. If there is no written policy and no past practice, the employer should find a fair way to decide which vacation requests to approve. Whichever system the employer uses should not use the employee’s recent use of SPSL as a factor in making a decision.

Whatever method the employer chooses would then become the company precedent for similar situations in the future.

Read more about Vacation and California COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave in the HR Library.