Employment Law Questions? Ask an Employment Lawyer.
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Since you are an at will employee, you need to look at the company policies and procedures. It is unlikely that this will give you any protections but it is possible. An employee does not have a legal right to get vacation time at a certain time. The employer can tell the employee that they cannot take it at that time. DO know that if the employer is offering vacation time, the employer must give time off during the year at some point. There is no right that the employee get a certain time off if an emergency situation arises only that they will get paid time off at some point. The employee is an at-will employee and could legally be fired with no recourse if the employee takes the time off anyway.
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You would not have to give the time off for that particular time, it simply (if offered) has to be given that particular year (or whatever time period vacation time off is set up for). You are not locked into a particular time period as the needs of the business can and do change.