my new company won’t honor the extra week of vacation I negotiated

A reader writes:

I just started a new job last week. I was able to successfully negotiate an extra week of vacation, but now I am being told by HR that the internal company recruiter who authorized the extra vacation had no right to do so and that the company will not honor that extra week. I showed them the email chain, and they say it doesn’t matter, it’s against company policy to negotiate with vacation time.

I had other offers when I accepted this position and now I am pissed. The rest of the benefits stink and the pay is less than normal for my field. I don’t want to stay at an employer who would do this!

If I were to start looking for new employment, how would I approach this position on my resume and in interviews? If I leave it off, it looks like I left my last job with nothing lined up, but if I include it, then it will show me at a job for less than a month. What should I do? I work in the technology field so there are lots of opportunities for me and I don’t want to stay with a company that clearly doesn’t value its employees.

What?! I am outraged on your behalf, letter-writer. This company is way, way in the wrong.

It’s utterly unreasonable for them to expect you to know that their own internal recruiter (not even an outside recruiter, but someone who’s an employee of their company and involved in hiring) wasn’t authorized to negotiate with you. What on earth do they expect — that you’d insist on verifying any offer negotiations with CEO? You acted in good faith and assumed that the person negotiating with you was authorized to do it. What if you’d negotiated salary with her too, and then discovered after you started that she wasn’t authorized to offer you the pay that you agreed on?

Whether or not their recruiter was authorized to do what she did, she did do it, and you accepted the job based on that agreement. They should be honoring the agreement. This is ridiculous.

As for how to handle your departure, I’d say this: “Unfortunately, the salary and benefit terms that we’d agreed to when I came on board ended up falling through.”

Your resume is a little trickier. You’re right that if you leave it off altogether right now, it’ll look like you left your last job with nothing lined up (which will make some employers wonder why, and they may not bother to contact you to find out), but if you include it, it’ll raise questions about why you’re already looking. Neither of those is ideal, and there’s an argument for either one (or rather, against either one). If it were me, I’d probably just leave it off, but I think you should go with whichever one feels better to you.

(And of course, once you do find a new job, you can remove this from your past altogether — definitely no need to include it on future resumes at that point.)

{ 244 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous Educator*

    I’ve worked at several places that are stingy with vacation time, and I just don’t get it. Is an extra week really going to hurt productivity? I’d guess it would be the exact opposite—you have a well-rested employee who’s ready to come back and work!

    I’m sorry the OP’s going through this. Horrible.

    1. Ad Astra*

      I will never understand stingy vacation time. It doesn’t cost the company any actual money! There is no way that week of vacation (which they’ll be paying OP for whether she’s on vacation or at the office) is worth the bad will that comes from not honoring your agreement with a candidate. And this is apparently in an in-demand field? Stupid, stupid, stupid.

      1. BRR*

        Exactly. I think anything they lose in terms of output is made up for with added productivity not to mention I’d bet that there would be less employee turnover if they had more vacation.

      2. Rat in the Sugar*

        Well, for tax purposes it can be treated as wages owed and in California it has to be paid out within 48 hours of separation, so it does represent a certain cost to the company. That cost is certainly quite minimal compared to the morale and productivity boost you get, though!

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          But that gets paid out only when the employee leaves and if the employee hasn’t used the vacation.

            1. ThatGirl*

              Actually Illinois has a similar law – unused PTO has to be paid out after separation.

              It’s still a crappy reason to be stingy with vacation, though.

              1. SanguineAspect*

                Not to give extra vacation time, that is. I’ve always been more than happy to have my non-used time paid out on separation. :)

              2. Anonymous Educator*

                I worked for a company that had a way around this (for them), which was to take the total amount of vacation time you’d accrue for the year and then divide that by the number of weeks in the year, and then that’s how much you’d accrue each week. So, for example, if you were supposed to get 15 vacation days for the year, you’d actually get .29 vacation days per week, which meant if you quite before the year was up, you wouldn’t have a bunch of accrued vacation days that are unpaid-out.

                There is also precedent for setting maximum accruals (so if you go beyond the maximum, you can’t accrue any more vacation days).

      3. a real bob*

        Vacation is a cash liability a company has to carry along.

        My division just had our carryover vacation yanked in mid-October with no warning. It seriously pissed off a bunch of people who could have taken it earlier in the year (lime me) and some who have vacations scheduled for next year using the affected carryover.

        1. Ad Astra*

          Would you mind expanding on that? I’ve heard people talk about vacation as a cash liability before, but I’m not sure I understand how that would discourage them from offering or negotiating a generous vacation program. Like, from a productivity standpoint, I can see how the business would want to limit the time its employees spend not working, but how does it work from a financial standpoint?

          1. Meaghan L*

            I think it’s considered a cash liability as once an employee accrues it (i.e.: where you earn 1 vacation day per month) the company has a liability until you use it up – and if you were to leave, it’s a cash liability as you would be paid out any unused accrued time in cash.

            1. Ad Astra*

              Ah, ok. That makes perfect sense in states where you’re required to pay out unused vacation, and at companies where the policy is to pay out unused vacation. But for companies that don’t pay out unused vacation, does it affect their budget?

              1. SanguineAspect*

                I wouldn’t think so. The reason it’s a liability is for states who would need to pay it out (especially when there’s roll-over to another calendar year, they have to keep that on the books as a potential cost). If the employer isn’t beholden to pay it out, I don’t think it could be considered a liability or impact budget. I’m not an accountant by any means, but this is how I understand it works.

              2. Koko*

                Only in the same way that some corporations will declare that goofing off on the job is “wage theft.”

              3. LCL*

                All of our shifts that are empty have to be filled, per labor agreement. And it is an important job. So an empty shift has to be filled by paying someone double time overtime. So yeah, we have some relief people but not enough, so we are paying a lot of overtime so people can take a mental health day, or tend to family business.
                (Not excusing the OP’s company-they lied.)

          2. Katieinthemountains*

            When I left my job, I had 7-8 days of vacation, so I got almost another full paycheck. You may hear of companies capping vacation at 200 or even 300 hours. That’s 5 or 7.5 weeks of full pay. Now imagine someone very senior leaves – or an entire division is wooed by a competitor. That’s a big chunk of change that the company has to pay out right away, so many companies implement use or lose vacation – but I have NEVER heard of that happening with no warning. That’s terrible.

          3. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

            The vacay payout is one of the reasons I had always kept a week banked at my previous job. So when I would leave a job I would have between 10 – 15 days as an extra “cushion” check.

            I now live in a state that doesn’t require vacation be paid out, so my company doesn’t, and I use my vacation like crazy.

          4. bob*

            What Meaghan and Katie said plus in some states vacation hours are considered “worked” hours so they have to pay for them.

            At our shop they told us to start taking time off before the end of the year which is stupid because now a bunch of us are just going to waste days of vacation we could have used for something we wanted to do. It’s not that I mind sleeping late and drinking coffee the whole week between Xmas and New Years but I would rather have been fly fishing with my Dad.

        2. azvlr*

          I’m curious to know if this falls into the same category as a company retroactively changing pay and then withholding that amount from a paycheck.

          My thinking: If vacation is part of the compensation package, can a company legally take away vacation that has already been earned? Is this something you can/should take up with your state’s labor board?

      4. NJ Anon*

        This is horrible. But I came here to say it can actually cost the company money when someone is on vacation. If they are in a client facing role, they have to be replaced while they are gone so you are paying the employee for the time and their replacement for the time. Having said that, however, this stinks and I would go to my manager or the internal recruiter and make a stink. Companies regularly break policy and they can do so here if they want to keep you.

        1. Honeybee*

          Do companies really hire people to fill in for short-term vacations? I would imagine at most companies, if an employee was gone for a week another (already-hired) employee would simply handle their business until they returned.

          1. LW 5 for today*

            In social services we have front line staff who are with our clients 24/7. If they go on vacation, someone has to pick up their shift so we are, in effect, paying double. We don’t actually hire someone. It’s usually a fill-in or part to
            One employee looking to make some extra money.

          2. Bend & Snap*

            My ex is in beer sales and yes, they have a stable of people whose job it is to cover vacations.

      5. AdAgencyChick*

        It does cost money in my field because our clients are billed per hour working on their business. The person who covers might bill more than their usual amount, but not double.

        But I’d still be pissed if I made an agreement about PTO and it was broken.

      6. Treena*

        Well, the OP says they’re in tech, so it’s very possible that they bill their hours. My husband asked for an extra week’s vacation during his review, and they said sure, but it would come out of his raise. One week of his vacation cost $9k, so it was either a 10k raise or 1k raise + 1 week.

      7. Aisling*

        In some fields, it does cost the company actual money, in the form of overtime pay to cover the hours. It may not be that way in a lot of office jobs, but in some security jobs – which must be covered 24/7- it does mean more money out for the company.

    2. Lanya (AKA Camp Director Kim)*

      Apparently people have different ideas of stingy. OldJob used to say that 10 days was “generous”. (But at NewJob I get 20 days, which is awesome.)

      1. Cripes!Jinkies!*

        Yeah…we get two whole weeks!
        But that also includes our sick leave.
        So in reality….stingy.

      2. Ad Astra*

        I believe my company describes its allotment of 5 vacation days (and, to be fair, 9-10 holidays) as “generous” as well.

      3. ThatGirl*

        I was thrilled when I got 18 days at my current job as a new hire – before that I’d been used to 10 everywhere I went.

    3. Golden Yeti*

      Haha, I tried negotiating for an extra DAY (per year) once and got shut down. You’d be surprised the excuses people can come up with.

    4. LuvzALaugh*

      I am not sure it is about being stingy. What industry is it? Some manufacturers and other industries targeted by unions have policies that disallow for negotiating vacation. Not saying whether I agree or disagree but some union avoidance strategies include offering the same if not slightly better pay and benefits that similarly unionized employees get and changing a benefit one would receive isn’t something that happens in a unionized environment.

  2. Anonymous Educator*


    it’s against company policy to negotiate with vacation time.

    If that’s really the case, they should at least have offered something to the OP to make up for it (e.g., more money). Doesn’t sound as if that’s the case.

    1. jmkenrick*

      Exactly. If they couldn’t have honored the agreement they made (for whatever reason) – they should have been mortified, apologetic, and offering alternatives to make it up to OP.

    2. Matt F*

      I’m reminded of the classic Darth Vader quote: “I am altering the deal. Pray that I do not alter it any further “.

  3. Snarkus Aurelius*

    Alternative explanation: they pulled a bait and switch.

    After you’ve already jumped through hoops, quit your old job, did the paperwork for the new job, etc., you’ve invested so much emotionally. You’re already in with them so trying to go back to your old job or quitting is a pain. They’re counting on you not putting up a fight and taking it because of the limited options.

    You shouldn’t not only because of the vacation time but because of the ethics on their part. Or lack thereof.

    What I really want to know is if other employees have a similar story to share.

    1. Kerry (Like the County In Ireland)*

      Especially since both pay and benefits stink. They know they can’t compete, so they use trickery.

    2. Jessica (tc)*

      I can see this happening, but the logic is completely off (for the company, not for you)! If you treat an employee like this within the first few weeks of employment, they have very little emotional investment into your company. It makes me wonder if this company hasn’t realized that the job situation where employers hold all of the cards isn’t necessarily the case any longer. (I know it is for some types of jobs and in some areas, but I don’t know that this is the case here.)

      My first thought is that if they are willing to agree to something and then backtrack so quickly when I’m this new, what are they going to do when it’s time for raises or performance reviews? I would never trust anything they say ever again, and I would be 500% less inclined to go above and beyond for anything at all during my time at this company.

      1. Snarkus Aurelius*

        I’m not sure that many companies would care. Or rather bad ones wouldn’t.

        I’ve seen plenty of outrageous stuff in job ads that brazenly screw the would-be employee. Ten years ago, I saw an ad for a DC job that asked for 3-7 years of experience and the pay was $27k — less than what I made at my first job out of college.

        I find it hard to believe this is done out of ignorance.

        1. Jessica (tc)*

          Oh, I don’t believe it’s ignorance, but I think it’s a willful, albeit ridiculous play of power that would make a lot of employees jump ship at the first opportunity–even a week in. There are a lot of companies that don’t mind high turnover, but it’s not a good way to do business.

          1. Blurgle*

            But a lot would not jump ship for fear they would either look bad for doing so or woudln’t get another job.

            It’s bad business practice, but they wouldn’t do it if it didn’t work.

            1. Observer*

              I’m not so sure it “works”.

              I’m sure you have seen the dialogue that goes
              CFO ” what if we invest in our people and they leave?”
              CEO: “And what if we don’t and they stay?”

              How many companies take the CFO’s role, without realizing the negative impact of the CEO’s question? Do they realize that their turnover costs are higher? Do they even recognize their turnover costs? Do they recognize the cost of never being able to hire and retain top notch talent?

              The business may not go broke (although that’s not guaranteed, either), but it’s likely not doing as well as it could.

            2. neverjaunty*

              Of course they would. Lots of businesses do foolish things, because they don’t see or choose not to see the cost of their actions.

              1. Blurgle*

                In the long term, yes, but if they define “works” as “these people are scared of me! Yippee!”

    3. Turtle Candle*

      I don’t usually jump to ‘bait and switch,’ but this made me wonder, too. Because if it really is internal policy to never negotiate vacation, why on earth would the internal recruiter not know that? Of all people? Either they’re incompetent, the company has massive internal communication issues, or they pulled this one over deliberately; it’s hard for me to see how this could be anything else.

      1. Snarkus Aurelius*

        Bingo. And what else is the internal recruiter not authorized to do that she isn’t aware of?

        1. Ani*

          OP needs to send the internal recruiter the HR respones. Seriously. Then the recruiter will either step in or the recruiter was the problem all along.

      2. Ad Astra*

        Yeah, this is possibly the only time I’ve read an AAM letter and believed it to be a true bait-and-switch tactic.

    4. neverjaunty*

      Agree. And thank goodness OP saved the email chain, or they’d probably be saying “sorry, we don’t have any record of any such thing”.

    5. carolyn*

      This happened to me when I accepted my current position. I was promised a commission amount and a base salary. Three weeks into my position they paraded around a whole new sales plan that would enable me to make “the same or more” by cutting my commission percentage in half. I saw right through the smoke and mirrors. I am still here, but it has forever changed the way I feel about this current job, and what went from in my mind a “five year role” will probably end at two.

      1. Snarkus Aurelius*

        Holy crap! This happened on The Office. Jim’s commission got capped on a monthly basis.

        “You do understand that you’ve taken away the driving incentive for me to do my job, right?”

        1. carolyn*

          but wait. I thought we work for fun.

          Which is what I was told.

          “you can’t argue that it’s fun to work here.”
          “I don’t work for fun. That’s why it is called work.”
          “Well, maybe this isn’t the right place for you.”

          I wasn’t aware that there was a line item in my paycheck for fun! MY BAD!

          1. Snarkus Aurelius*

            You should ask how they’d feel if their pay got cut. They wouldn’t be talking about fun for sure.

          2. Tiffin*

            In a large townhall-type meeting, a CEO told us that we shouldn’t be in it for the money. This wasn’t a nonprofit or charity or even a hospital, just a regular company. Dude, no.

            1. BeenThere*

              I would be the smartarse in the back yelling out “oh so you’ve decided to take a salary of $1 next year and donate all your stock and options to charity?”

    6. Taylor*

      I have been bait-and-switched so many times in jobs! The worst one was getting hired as a Teapot Designer, then on my first day being told, “Oh, we filled that job already–you can be our Teapot Salesperson!”

      I have no interest or experience in sales (though in my three interviews for that position, I showed them my teapot design portfolio and talked about design extensively). NO idea what they were thinking. I left that job within 4 months (for a real design job, of course).

      Another job told me benefits included dental, which turned out to be “in-case-of-emergency” dental, meaning for example if I was in a car crash and lost 90% of my teeth, it would cover some measly amount. Harrumph.

  4. AdAgencyChick*


    Can you bring it up with your manager? Tell her that the vacation time was one of the reasons you accepted the offer, and you’re disappointed that the agreement is not being honored despite written documentation.

    Hopefully your boss will sympathize and either fight with HR or arrange for you to take the extra week off the books. And if not, I’d start with calling back any other places who made you an offer, if you got that far anywhere else.

    1. Shell*

      But even if OP’s boss is reasonable and willing to fight the powers that be for it, it would probably be a contentious maneuver given said powers that be already refused it (and, I assume, refused to increase the salary or offer other compensation based on the OP’s comments about underpaying). Even if the OP’s boss were to succeed, OP would likely be starting his tenure with this company on the wrong foot.

      I’d cut and run–without a notice period. What jerks.

      1. Mike C.*

        It’s already contentious because the company at large is violating tort law. Tenure has already started on the wrong foot.

        1. Shell*

          Oh, I agree. But forcing the company to comply–assuming that can be successful and assuming the OP wants to go that route–probably won’t endear OP to the rest of them, right? And management that doesn’t like you ranks high in the reasons of job dissatisfaction.

        2. JB (not in Houston)*

          What tort is it that the company is committing? Depending on the facts, I could make an argument for breach of contract, but I’m not seeing a tort.

      2. Student*

        HR is not usually the “Powers that Be”. It depends on the company. However, not knowing anything about this specific circumstance, I would guess this is an entry-level HR employee who read their policies and otherwise doesn’t know any better. The policy would apply to the RECRUITER anyway, in the course of their recruitment job, not to the new employee. Proper resolution would be to give this employee their negotiated vacation or something that both parties feel is an acceptable substitute, then go discipline the recruiter via whatever is appropriate (review policies, fire, get insight into why they felt this was a good deal, whatever). Heck, the OP might be able to trump this HR person by talking to the HR person’s boss, or her own boss, or having a lawyer write a quick nasty-gram to them about breach of contract.

        1. Ad Astra*

          I hope the OP stops by and lets us know if this HR rep has been disciplined at all. If the answer’s no, I’m ready to declare this an absolute bait-and-switch. If it was an honest mistake, it was a huge honest mistake that would come with some consequences.

          1. OP*

            The internal recruiter, ask far as I can tell, was not disciplined at all. She was definitely not fired. Also, her technical title is Senior Recruiter, so there is no way the entry level ‘i didn’t know’ stuff can be pulled. I tried talking to the head of HR with both emails chains, and still nothing. It doesn’t matter what the recruiter offered me, plan and simple they don’t negotiation with vacation time.

              1. Confused*

                I was wondering the same thing. Have you talked to the recruiter again since you heard from HR? What does she have to say about all this?

                1. Anon.*

                  Even if the usual policy is that vacation time is non-negotiable, I think that they have an obligation to make good on this since if the extra week had not been approved, it would have affected OP’s willingness to accept the offer.

                  An analogy would be a if a store posted the wrong price for something and it was only discovered after sales were made. Sure, they can correct the sign and refuse to honor the mistaken price going forward, but all the sales made up to that point would be allowed to stand.

      3. Sadsack*

        A reasonable manager would consider giving the extra week. I used to work with someone who was allowed to do this. Except, she was told right away that company policy is for new employees to get only 2 weeks, but she could take a third off the record. Our manager kept that promise, too.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      You know, this is a great point and I was remiss to not include it in my response.

      Yes, the manager absolutely might be able to go over the HR person’s head and get this resolved. I would be livid if someone did this to someone on my team, and I’d move heaven and earth to get it fixed or offer something else to make up for it. Lots of managers would.

      1. Similar to me...*

        A few months back I got an offer from a competitor. I went to my manager with it (my job was up in the air due to a reorg) and he was able to use it to call HRs bluff and get my job confirmed – with a raise/promotion. (going from contractor to internal full time) HR gave him a number he could give me to have in the interim to ‘match’ my other offer. But, it took 2 months for the paperwork to go through.
        2 months later I get called with my offer… 5k under what I’d been promised. I called my boss LIVID (he’d still be my boss). I thought HE’D bait and switched me. Turns out, he had no idea HR tried to do this. He and HIS boss went to HR to get it remedied and they were able to ‘come up.’ They still came up to $500 under what the original amount was. Which I think is just total BS because I know that they could come up to more. But, I want the job and I wasn’t really in a position to negotiate – I had long ago turned down the competitor’s offer.
        Luckily for me HR isn’t ‘the company’ in my mind. My boss and his boss make our team a great place to work and beyond this initial offer any raises and bonuses are determined by them, not by HR.
        But, raises and bonuses are all percentage based which is why I wasn’t going to roll over on a $5k difference. It still pisses me off that they didn’t come up the full amount – left $500, but at that point I was over it.

        1. TootsNYC*

          I actually had the opposite happen–I hired someone internally, and my boss and the business manager decided that she didn’t need to make such a big leap in salary, and her first paycheck was way too low. They never told her. Or me.

          I went to HR, and SHE went through the roof.

    3. I'm Not Phyllis*

      I would go to the manager too … but I can’t say I’d accept an “off the books” arrangement, because even if you managed to broker such a deal, if the OP’s manager happened to move on, the deal would most likely come to an end.

      Your manager should be willing to go to bat for you with HR over this (I would if you were my employee). If the recruiter offered something they shouldn’t have, then it’s the company’s business to take that up with the recruiter. It shouldn’t come at your expense once you’ve already accepted an offer under certain terms.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        True dat. In fact, even if the manager does stay, that extra week will probably disappear after the first year.

        I’d still try, just to buy more time to look for another job without losing out on that first year’s vacation.

    4. Jeanne*

      I was also wondering what OP’s boss says about the mess. That response can make a lot of difference in how you feel about staying at the job.

    5. Green*

      I’d escalate it. OP is already planning on leaving. Might as well try and salvage it with the people who you actually work for (which is not HR).

  5. Sans*

    If she just started last week, she should contact the other companies where she had offers. It may be too late, but it couldn’t hurt to try. She should just say what Alison said – that the terms she was promised fell through.

    1. T3k*

      I second this and hope it’s not too late for the OP. But, by the sounds of it, the OP can probably find another job easily enough after this one, regardless if the others have already filled.

    2. Turtle Candle*

      Agreed. In the worst case, the other companies will just say ‘no,’ but I can’t imagine this reflecting badly on the LW if they use relatively neutral language like “the terms fell through” or “the benefits they offered were rescinded” or something.

      1. LizNYC*

        I like “the terms fell through {or} were rescinded after I started with no warning.” Shows that the company, not you, is a jerk.

    3. Stranger than fiction*

      This was my thought too. And, if she has to start looking again, I’d leave it off my resume. If asked why she left without another job, I’d be honest “Actually I had something else lined up , but unfortunately I found out on my first day the terms we agreed to were not valid and this left a bad taste in my mouth as I had turned down other offers…” Or something along those lines. It’s fine to be honest if you stay calm and cool about it.

  6. LucyVP*

    You might also contact the recruiter that you made the agreement with and let THEM fight it out with HR.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      I don’t see how that would work since it’s an internal recruiter – the person would have nothing to gain and much to lose if they fight for OP. And this is just such a crappy, short-sighted move on their part that I would want to get out asap anyway.

      1. Mike C.*

        It would be an interesting interaction. Make them explain to your face why they made a contractual agreement that wasn’t actually done by company policy. It might be fun.

          1. neverjaunty*

            Right? “Manager and HR Person: as you can see from the below email chain, Wakeen (who I have cc’d on this email) agreed that an extra week of vacation would be a term of my employment, and I accepted the offer based on this represenation. I’ve been informed by HR Person that Wakeen was not authorized to extend this offer. How can we resolve this?”

      2. LucyVP*

        Depending on their role in the company, they could have the influence to say to HR – I made this deal, you need to honor it.

        At the very least they need to know that the deal they made was not honored by the company. If my company backtracked on an agreement I made, I would be very upset and make sure it got corrected.

  7. Engineer Girl*

    I would be even harsher when I gave prospective employers an explanation. I would tell the new employers that the old company breached contract. By the way, tort law supersedes company policy every time. You may want to bring this up to HR before you start looking for a new job.

    1. James M*

      “Breached contract” is a bit too gray for my tastes, and the extra vacation time may not be mentioned in any contract. I would probably go with “Company X reneged on agreed compensation” (hoping the person I’m talking to knows what “reneged” means). This is, of course, an answer to the question “Why did you leave X?”, not just randomly blurted out.

    2. T*

      It was always my understanding that “getting the offer in writing” was in no way an enforcible contract but merely a way to make sure there are no misunderstandings.

      1. sam*

        Contracts do not need to be written to be legally binding, except in certain circumstances (for my legal peeps – statute of frauds!).

        Having something in writing does, however, greatly help on the “proving the contract actually existed” front.

        But there are other ways to prove that an unwritten/verbal contract existed – “reliance” is a major one. If you took certain actions in reliance on the agreement that you would obviously not have otherwise taken, that can serve as evidence.

        But that’s actually somewhat irrelevant here, as OP actually does have written evidence – the emails.

        1. Mpls*

          But, is OP in an at-will employment state? Which is meant to negagte any sort of contractual relationship btwn an employer and employee. And would thus add weight to this sort of agreement not being a contract, yes?

            1. Raging Dragon*

              If you can afford to, I suggest just walking away, no notice, and not put that employer on your resume.

          1. Elysian*

            At-will employment doesn’t negate a contract, it just establishes a default. You can still have employment contracts in at-will states if the employer and employee agree to it. Most people must don’t, and in at-will states it is almost never inferred to be a contract. It’s highly unlikely that this would be a contract for the OP, because at-will employers can always change things (including vacation time and pay, etc) going forward. It just makes the company’s behavior really jerky instead of legally actionable. But it doesn’t matter because the OP shouldn’t sue, she should leave.

            1. sam*

              right, and at-will employment doesn’t mean, “we can just arbitrarily change anything whenever we want”. There are still rules to follow. I’m an “at-will” employee. I received an offer letter with things like my salary and benefits outlined, and my company has an employee handbook with various rules and benefits outlined. Each of those documents very explicitly says that I am an at-will employee and that the document is not intended to create a binding contract. But that doesn’t mean my employer doesn’t have to abide by the rules it created for itself in those documents. It can certainly choose to go through a process to change those rules and doesn’t need my consent to do so, and my boss could walk into my office tomorrow and fire me for no reason, but…he couldn’t just arbitrarily cut my PTO in half.

              1. Elysian*

                Why do you think he couldn’t arbitrarily cut your PTO in half? He really could. There’s nothing stopping him from doing that at all (unless there’s a specific state law, and in most states there aren’t). The only thing he can’t do is change your pay for time you’ve already worked. Otherwise, it is pretty much all fair game for going forward.

        2. JB (not in Houston)*

          This one would probably fall into the category of needing to be in writing, depending on the state–but the writing doesn’t have to be a formal contract. Emails can work. But an offer letter won’t necessarily get the OP there.

      2. Mando Diao*

        I wouldn’t lead with this, as older generations don’t always understand the nuances in play, but an email is technically a legal contract. Even if the terms of employment were not written down in a contract, the chain of negotiation emails is a contract in itself. Similarly, an email is legally the same as a verified signature. “Breach of contract” fits.

        1. MInnesota*

          As someone who you would probably classify as part of the “older generation,” I found this comment offensive. Just FYI.

    3. cbackson*

      I’m a little bit confused about the references to “tort law.” In this thread. If anything, this is breach of contract – contract law =/= tort law.

      1. Elysian*

        Yeah this is like the third mention of tort in this thread, and there’s no tort here. Torts are like… negligence. This is a breach of contract, if anything, and even then its not really that because its at-will employment.

        But regardless, no one is going to sue so it doesn’t matter. OP should find another job because this is just awful of the company.

      2. ace*

        Thank you…. had the same reaction & was trying to figure out what was being autocorrected to tort!

    4. WarGames*

      Doesn’t matter — if you sue, no HR person in the country will want to hire you moving forward, even if you win. There’s no CYA if the boss comes back to the HR person and says, “They sued their last employer and that didn’t set off any alarm bells?” HR has no incentive to hire anyone in particular — unless the company is very small, whether the company gets the best candidate or any candidate at all really has very little to do with what’s best for the individual people who have to sign off on any new hire, which is to protect their own jobs through avoiding blame.

  8. Chriama*

    As soon as I read the title of the post my first thought was “Ugh, that’s gross.” I think you’re well within reason to go back to HR and state exactly what you said here: “I had other, more competitive offers and took this one because of the vacation.” You might even loop your boss in, although I’m not sure if they’ll have any pull. Would you be willing to take more money in exchange for the promised vacation? If so, let them know that as well. But it sounds like this is a place with rigid practices for whatever reason and you shouldn’t stay if you’ve got better options. Maybe your first step could be reaching out to some of the places you turned down and asking if the position is still open or if they have any other roles that could use your skillset. They were willing to make you an offer once, so as long as you frame it impassively (they weren’t willing to honor the conditions they made when extending me an offer) I think there’s less risk that you come off badly.

    1. Mike C.*

      I think the OP is well within reason to go to a lawyer. Doesn’t promissory estoppel come into play here?

      1. Chriama*

        I don’t think that would bring the most value to the OP though. They have other options, and legal battles are expensive and emotionally exhausting.

        1. Engineer Girl*

          But just mentioning it to HR might be the trick. In a nice way… “BTW breaking this promise amounts to promissory estoppel. I’m sure the company doesn’t want to unintentionally break the law.”
          It’s still not good there. The minute you mention the law to HR they put you on the enemies list.

          1. eplawyer*

            Honestly, HR hears “I’m going to a lawyer” every day. Most people don’t do it. Unless you have already spoken to a lawyer and are ready to go forward it’s an empty threat.

            Just like all the people who contact me and ask me to write a letter to some mean old company, thinking that will stop the mean behavior. The company knows its being mean, it doesn’t care. A letter is not going to suddenly make them go “Oh hey, we need to stop meaning mean.”

            I honestly don’t think a lawyer would get involved here. Sure promises were made and she relied on them. But there is a lot more to it than that. First what are her damages? The speculative other jobs she might have taken instead? Maybe she would have taken this job anyway. Would a reasonable person have relief on the recruiter’s word and not her boss or HR as to what her true compensation was?

            I’ll stop now. Except to say not ever problem is capable of solving by a lawyer.

            1. Mike C.*

              The lost week of vacation time seems to be the obvious example of damages.

              I mean look, you’re talking about silly frivolous cases here, and promising in writing to do something reasonable then not doing it is breaking basic contract law, is it not?

              1. LBK*

                I don’t think offer letters are typically considered binding contracts, though. IANAL so this may be totally wrong, but I also think that typically when there’s a question of offers not being honored, the damages aren’t what you don’t get that was promised in the letter, but the theoretical money you could’ve earned if you taken a different job vs. this one (that turned out to not be as advertised).

                So, for instance, if you took a job that offered a $10k bonus and then they cancelled the bonus program the day you started, you couldn’t sue for the $10k. But if you turned down another offer that paid $5k more per year specifically because the one you took had the $10k bonus, you might be able to sue for the theoretical $5k you lost as a result of believing their promise. And I imagine that would be really hard to prove.

                1. Joanna*

                  That is interesting, because I would have thought about it the simpler way, where the damage would have been the $10K.

                  What makes you think the way of calculating damages you mention is typical?

                2. LBK*

                  I’m basing that on my understanding of what you’d be able to sue for if a company pulled an offer. I believe in that scenario you can’t sue the company for the amount that was in the offer, but you can sue if you can show that you lost money by quitting a job to take the offer that was ultimately pulled. I’m assuming the same thing would apply here: you can’t sue for what the company promised and didn’t ultimately give you, but you could sue for what you lost as a result of believing that promise.

                  Again, though, I’m by no means an expert, so this could all be totally wrong. I am 99.9% sure that an offer letter doesn’t constitute a contract, though, as that point has been brought up many times on this site.

                3. Joanna*

                  LBK, your response just seems to restate that you understood it to be that way, not why you might understand it to be that way. I mean, have you read about cases of this somewhere? Did you read an article about it?

                  Assuming you don’t remember why you understand it to be that way . . . .

                  It makes sense to me that the company who gives you an offer letter might not be bound to work with you, if the law says that employment is at-will. What I don’t understand is how this kind of promise (“If you come work for us, we will give you X”) would be magically exempt. Assuming it is exempt, I’m guessing there are some non-magical reasons, why, and I’m interested in knowing what they are.

                  I guess the employer could use at-will employment as a loophole, though, as in, “Well, we don’t have the job we mentioned before for you, with all those benefits we talked about in the interview, but if you want to keep working here you can have THESE benefits :-)”

                4. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  It’s because in at-will states, offer letters typically haven’t found to be binding contracts, because the employer can change the terms at any time (just not retroactively).

                5. LBK*

                  Oh, I didn’t realize you meant what my source was for that assumption. This is all based on info I got from this site (both articles and comments).

                6. Joanna*

                  Thanks for the clarification, Alison! Guess this is another one of those yes-it-is-legal-just-crappy situations.

              2. Elysian*

                Let’s assume in a best case scenario that OP could get paid for the lost vacation (which she likely wouldn’t since she’s getting paid anyway and wouldn’t be able to get double-paid). If OP’s job pays $70,000 a year, that week of vacation is worth about $1350, or about $900 after taxes. If a lawyer spends only 5 hours on this “case,” — and assuming you win, which is incredibly unlikely — you’ve already spent more money on legal help than you could possibly get back. You’ve also then sued your employer for a weeks vacation, which is probably career suicide. It’s a horrible option, even in its very best case scenario. Talking to a lawyer would be stressful and take more time than its worth, even if the initial consultation is free. OP’s time is better spent job searching.

                1. Some2*

                  If OP turned down other work that paid more or offered better benefits under this promise I think there’s a chance of pursuing relief in the courts under the concept of detrimental reliance. As with any suit there’s no certain outcome, however.

                  Then again for a week of vacation paying an attorney to fight might blow the cost/benefit ratio

                2. WarGames*

                  It’s crazy how many types of career suicide there are now.

                  I think the reason they have proliferated is because so many markets have been walled off through artificial barriers to entry and lack of access to capital. If there’s no chance whatsoever that a potential employee can become a competitor on their own, there’s no incentive to keep them off the market. Companies that follow normal business practice don’t engage in price wars to undercut one another, and they don’t engage in bidding wars for skilled employees if they know that there is no risk of creating new competitors if they just let them sit.

          2. cbackson*

            The company hasn’t “committed” promissory estoppel (that’s not how it works), and nor is this necessarily a violation of law (it’s a breach of contract). The OP would have an uphill battle here, for a variety of reasons. No need for the OP to try to play lay lawyer; what the OP has said in the letter is perfectly adequate as an explanation offered by a layperson for why what’s going on here is wrong.

            I also agree that moving on is likely the OP’s best bet for variety of reasons.

            1. Mike C.*

              I never said the OP should play lawyer. I said they should talk to one.

              If we’re going to be pedantic about language, then it goes both ways.

              1. cbackson*

                I wasn’t talking about you (rather, about the person suggesting that the OP go tell HR that reneging on this promise “amounts to promissory estoppel). That said, I don’t think it’s pedantry for an actual attorney who both practices contract law and has taught contract law at a law school to point out that it’s perhaps unwise for a layperson to misuse terms with a specific legal significance in a situation when using non-legal terminology would get the job done just as well (and without introducing potential confusion).

                1. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

                  Not to mention that being pedantic about language is kind of the entire point of contract law.

        2. neverjaunty*

          Talking to a lawyer doesn’t mean a legal battle any more than talking to a doctor means major surgery.

      2. Kyrielle*

        Would it really lead anywhere, though? If I join a company that promises X weeks of vacation to all employees and they later change it to X-1, they can do that going forward…and I can elect to work under that condition or not work under it. So either that and/or “the person in question isn’t authorized to negotiate on behalf of the company” (I mean, what if it was a random employee instead of a recruiter, we wouldn’t then expect it to have force, right?) and/or “we sent a formal offer letter, you signed it, it didn’t mention this.”

        I’m not sure OP would win a suit; suing an employer is expensive; it also doesn’t make you look like an attractive employee to other companies. OP is better off cutting losses and finding a new job ASAP, maybe even from the pool of companies already interested in them. (Ones that made an offer that was declined may not be interested, though, since they clearly weren’t in first place initially, which may make them wonder. On the other hand, they might be!)

        1. Mike C.*

          As the person able you stated, talking to a lawyer doesn’t mean you’re going to have a lawsuit. It’s about understanding your actual rights and options as they exist in the specific context of the OP.

      3. neverjaunty*

        It probably gets more complicated depending on the state’s contract and employment laws. But of course that is the whole point of talking to a lawyer!

        (With the goal, I would guess, of getting severance and an appropriate recommendation. There’s little reason to stay at a company this sleazy, even if they back down.)

        1. Turtle Candle*

          Right. You absolutely can talk to a lawyer without committing to a major lawsuit or something–it can be extremely empowering to know exactly what your options are, even if you decided ‘I’m just going to find another job ASAP’ in the end. It’s entirely within the LW’s right to decide that they don’t want to be bothered to talk to a lawyer, or can’t afford it, but I absolutely can’t see how just getting an opinion would hurt (again, assuming it’s something they can afford–I know not everyone can).

      4. Anna the Accounting Student*

        I was about to say “detrimental reliance” here, which is the relevant phrase I remember from Business Law. I think promissory estoppel is the particular ruling that would be in play.

  9. Mike C.*

    Name and shame. These sorts of breaches of contract should be made public as a warning to others.

    /If you’re cool with that.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      But save the naming until you’ve secured a new job. But, yes, this would be a Glass Door scenario.

      1. Jerzy*

        I was just coming on here to ask OP to post something about this to Glassdoor. Companies who feel they hold all the cards and candidates will take whatever scraps we can get are the reason American job benefits are a laughing stock in other developed nations.

        It’s bad enough that we don’t have paid family/medical leave (in most states), or anything close to decent maternity/paternity leave, but companies who try to “bait and switch” their way out of hiring terms need to be called out. Let them struggle to find decent talent to fill their ranks.

    2. Joanna*

      Agreed! In the words of Louis D. Brandeis:

      “Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.”

    3. Jeanne*

      I would definitely find this appropriate here. They obviously do not care if they have a reputation for going back on their word. Fine, be jerks. But OP can warn others about the company.

    4. Adam V*

      The problem with name-and-shame in this case is that it’s going to name the OP as well, unless Company X has made a habit of offering an extra week to lots of would-be employees and yanking it away once they accept the offer.

  10. Master Bean Counter*

    I would find this outrageous, but I’m working for a company that won’t even honor the (few) benefits it has spelled out in its handbook.

    1. JenGray*

      Join the club!! The CEO at my company picks & chooses the policies in the handbook that he wants to enforce. For instance, one employee left after 6 months & gets paid out for PTO- another employee leaves after 10 months & doesn’t get paid out PTO. The handbook clearly states you will get paid out PTO only if you have worked there for a year. The CEO just liked one employee more than the other so he paid one. Best of luck in finding something else.

      1. Chriama*

        To be fair, that one is probably illegal. Company handbooks are generally binding, especially if there’s precedence of the terms being honored for some employees.

  11. MashaKasha*

    I had a job that I’d taken under the impression that it was a web development job with a 20 mile commute, and it turned out to be an old windows-app maintenance job with a SIXTY-FIVE mile commute. None of which came up at the interviews. I started looking three months later and my first interview was with a Fortune 500 company, and of course, the first question was “why are you looking when you just started?” This was from a panel of interviewers that had my future boss, the CIO, and five other people sitting on it. I told them “I was hired under the impression that the job was located downtown, and it turned out to be in” (the town where none of them had probably ever been in their lives, as it was close to a hundred miles from THEIR office.) I got compassionate “Awww”s from all around the table, my answer satisfied all of them and they moved on to the next question and eventually hired me. So yes, “they hired me under X conditions and then it turned out to be Y” is a perfectly legitimate answer. Cannot advise on the resume though. Mine was put in by a friend.

    1. 123456789101112 do-do-do*

      I think tone matters in that case. You didn’t go into the interview ranting about those slimy poopheads who misled you and you tried to take them to court and blah blah blah, you were just matter-of-fact about it and presented it as a perfectly good reason to leave after such a short time, which it was.

      1. Joanna*

        Yes, there isn’t some silly interview rule that you may not mention anything that could be construed as negative about your former employer (at least there shouldn’t be). The idea is that you don’t want to come off as someone who is difficult to work with or will be unhappy at this job, because (in the first case) you are griping excessively or (in the second case) you were dissatisfied about some aspect of your former job that the present one has in common.

  12. oldfashionedlovesong*

    This happened to me at my current job, where I am employed by Firm A as a fulltime consultant for Worksite B. One of the benefits advertised to me during the interview process was a paid week off in the summer (the entire staff at Firm A gets this perk). I accepted the offer, moved across the country at my own expense, bought a car, rented an apartment… and then found out in my first week on the job that the director of Worksite B was unhappy with Firm A consultants having a summer week off that Worksite B employees do not get, and was therefore taking that benefit away. No discussion, no opportunity to negotiate, just done.

    A number of similar things have happened since, one by one taking away privileges from me and the handful of other Firm A employees here at Worksite B, as well as other concerning-to-serious incidents (all associated with Worksite B– Firm A is a pretty great employer, if fairly spineless when it comes to advocating for their offsite consulting staff).

    Because I had uprooted my whole life, I didn’t feel like I had the option to start the job search again right away as OP is going to (and should!) so I stayed. But believe me, at the one-year mark, I started the hunt again… nothing so far, but I’m trying to stay optimistic.

    1. LizNYC*

      Wonder if it would be helpful in your exit interview (if conducted by a Firm A employee) to mention why you moved on, since the benefits of Firm A weren’t extended throughout the company. And seriously, Firm A isn’t that great if it lets Worksite B act like a little dictator.

  13. Student*

    OP, have you run this by your manager? You might want to do that before you leave. It could be that your manager can make enough of a stink to get this past the specific HR person blocking its implementation. At minimum, your manager should deal with this disconnect between the recruiter and the HR policies in some way.

    There are good employees and bad employees in all jobs. It could be that the recruiter was the bad employee, but it could also be that this HR person is the bad employee. If I were in your shoes, I’d have been more inclined to assume the HR person was ignorant of my circumstances / lazy / too new to know their system beyond the handbook / too young to know how unbelievably stupid it is to tell someone they’ve been negotiated with in bad faith – rather than assuming the recruiter had actually negotiated with me in bad faith. Negotiations done in bad faith are called a bait-and-switch, and sometimes they can be outright illegal (no idea at all if this qualifies). At minimum, negotiations done in bad faith do incredible damage to business reputations, costing way more than an extra week of vacation time per year for one employee.

  14. Workfromhome*

    Does the OP have an offer letter that includes the vacation?
    Is it spelled out in the email that there are X weeks of vacation and you accept?
    If so would this not be considered a contract?
    You could threaten legal action
    You could simply say you’ve breached the contact and therefore terminated my job I expect severance.
    The position you agreed to does not exist. You shouldn’t be “quitting” .

    1. Wilton Businessman*

      Offer letter is not a contract. In fact, most state that it’s not a contract.

      Even if it was a breach of contract, what’s the damages? What makes this person whole again? $900? You’re going to kill your career (at that company) for $900?

      1. Honeybee*

        I would think it depends on the salary and other circumstances. At the very least, you could argue that you’ve lost out on a week of salary annually because you may have accepted a lower salary proportionate to whatever you’d get paid in one week because of this additional benefit.

  15. LBK*

    As others have suggested, I’d loop your manager in on this. They may not have the power to fix your vacation time, but there may be other strings they can pull that HR either can’t or won’t to find you some form of additional compensation. Once your manager realizes that the consequence of this policy is that they’re going to lose their new employee that they probably spent weeks/months hiring, hopefully that will make them as livid as I am reading this letter.

    If this were me and I couldn’t get HR to give the employee the time they were expecting I’d find a way to get them a raise, allow them extra work from home time, or hell, I might just give them the week of vacation off the books (ie let them take days off without having to deduct it from their PTO). If nothing else, it doesn’t make sense from an economic standpoint to restart the hiring process after a month – the opportunity cost is more than anything you’d have to spend to fix this issue.

  16. NK*

    I’ve interviewed people who had just left their jobs, and it’s never been a factor when determining whether to bring them in for an interview. I certainly note it as an “I’ll have to ask them about that” item, but I’ve never personally had a candidate pool where the resumes were so close that I was making decisions about who to interview based on a minor timing oddity.

    1. Adam V*

      That’s only if things go well for the OP, though. If “I just left my job last week because the benefits I was offered fell through” turns into “I left a job six months ago because the benefits I was offered fell through”, then that’s a lot harder for hiring managers to overlook.

      So as much as this company sucks, I wouldn’t quit immediately (though I understand the impulse); instead, I’d call the companies that I had just turned down and see if their openings are still available, and take one of them and leave immediately.

  17. IT_guy*

    I had a similar situation several years ago.

    I started with a new company and part of the compensation that I negotiated with them was that they would pay all of the medical insurance premiums for me and my family. 90 days after I started when I was eligible for medical insurance, they informed me that when I started they got a really good quote from an insurance carrier that they rescinded, and basically low-balled them into signing up. They said that I would have to pay the full amount and it worked out to $1,000 per month for insurance. My supervisor started around the same time and he got the same deal and they pulled the rug out on him as well.

    I told my boss that I could go down the road and take a $10K pay cut and have a job tomorrow and still be better of financially. He passed this on to senior management (It was a small company) with his hearty endorsement.

    Amazingly they reconsidered their stance on this and delivered what they promised.

  18. PLS*

    Similar thing happened to me but I interviewed with the Owner/CEO of the company, and it was regarding health insurance. I was told health insurance will start right away. After I moved my family to another state and started the job, I asked about it and he told me that he was wrong, and I was not eligible for health insurance until after three months of full time work!! The company had an outside HR company that provided all HR related things. I did not have a chance to speak to this HR company until after I started…and my interviewer being the Owner/CEO, I didn’t think to confirm it after getting job offer email.

      1. Windchime*

        I actually did negotiate three months of COBRA when I started this job. They wouldn’t budge on the 90 day waiting period to start on insurance, so I was able to negotiate reimbursement for the COBRA that I paid. I thought about just risking it and going three months without insurance, but I have asthma and just didn’t want to risk it.

        But I also work for a reasonable employer who will do things like this. I am outraged on the OP’s behalf.

        1. Moly*

          They probably couldn’t budge on the 90 waiting period – between the contract with the health insurance providers and ERISA restrictions it probably have opened them up to some liability to budge for one person when the wouldn’t for anyone else. Which means the COBRA payments were a sensible solution for a company that had to work within the restrictions it had.

          1. PLS*

            I should have pursued Cobra but didn’t even think about it. I just crossed my fingers that my two young kids and I didn’t have any health emergencies, which luckily was the case.

            If a company or CEO is not going to fill all agreed terms, it definitely shows the culture at the company. I ignored the low morale, gossipy managers, and inappropriate sense of humor. My Manager called the CEO a cheap Jew to the team and made fun of our Chinese vendors all the time!! When I finally objected to her behavior after two and half years, with a formal statement to HR, I was terminated for “irreparable trust between the employee and employer”. Guess who is still with the company? Unbelievable.

    1. Traveler*

      This happened to someone I know as well. The company couldn’t pay what the employee deserved. They offered him a bunch of bonuses – vacation time, allowances, etc. to compensate for it. On day one they stripped it all out of his contract after he had already quit and relocated for the new position. Its unbelievable to me.

  19. FelineFine*

    I’m confused as to why a recruiter was negotiating terms at all. Isn’t this typically done by the hiring manager? Yes, the company should honour their commitment, but I can believe that the recruiter was operating out of bounds. I would bring it up with your manager, and I would contact the other companies that had presented you with an offer as well.
    Also, this is a good lesson to always get all terms in the written offer, not just on an e-mail.
    Good luck to you OP.

    1. LizNYC*

      A friend is leaving his company and has done all of his negotiation for salary, start date, benefits through the recruiter. He had the actual interview(s) with the company management, but everything HR/paywise has been with the recruiter.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Yep, after my now-boss decided to hire me and the terms, I received that communication through the recruiter. Had I needed to negotiate further, it would have been handled via the recruiter (whether or not she made the final determination).

    2. Sans*

      Yup, every job I’ve had, HR talks to me about salary, the HR manager only makes the hiring decision.

    3. Ros*

      Every job I’ve gotten that worked with a recruiter had the recruiter do all the communicating regarding the job offers, and negotiating went through the recruiter (but I’m sure behind the scenes was approved by the hiring manager). Having the recruiter do the communicating is FAR from unusual.

    4. Ad Astra*

      I’ve done negotiations through the hiring manager before. In my first two jobs, HR was really only in charge of paperwork. I didn’t even talk to anyone from HR until after I accepted the job.

      In my current job, which is my first job that involved a recruiter, the recruiter made me the offer and I assume if I had negotiated that it would have been with the recruiter.

    5. Honeybee*

      Not always. I negotiated terms with an internal recruiter. They were the liaison between me and the hiring manager, and they were the ones I originally heard the offer from. I didn’t actually talk directly with my hiring manager until after my salary and benefits and start date was already set.

  20. ThursdaysGeek*

    I hope the OP gives us an update on this. When she gives her notice and tells them she is going to her new job where they honor their agreements, how does the company respond?

  21. Law Girl*

    Started a job about six months ago. Ad stated they had full benefits, and the company policy manual stated the same thing. When I called HR to ask about the forms was told “Where did you hear that? We do not offer that anymore…” Sigh. The only “benefit” is one week vacation after one year. And they wonder why turnover is exceeding 50% (at a law firm!)

  22. Lisa*

    This happened to me. I negotiated 3 extra days and then the company was acquired – goodbye extra days and goodbye week off at xmas. There was no negotiating with the new company so I lost 8 days – essentially a pay cut that I either was stuck with or had to resign. No communication on this at all – I had asked about this when the offer letter stated my salary with new company but nothing on benefits or vacation. I’ve asked numerous times since then about my extra days to be told it probably won’t happen. NO ONE asked HR about it. My manager is the best person to ask the new company for it, but is scared to. If I ask, the default is no. Give notice. Since you were lied to and can’t be guaranteed anything they say.

  23. CAinUK*

    “I understand your recruiter offered me terms in bad faith, but that is not my problem. I accepted these terms and I turned down other offers based on this benefit. How do we fix this and who else should I talk to?”

    1. The IT Manager*

      This! I can see the HR person being shocked and saying that can’t happen/you can’t negotiate extra vacation days, but once confronted with the email written proof, they should honor what their spokesman (the internal recruiter) agreed to. And if the HR admin can’t do with keep going over their head.

      OTOH I can totally see LW being soured and making a run for it now. She sounds like she has options; she should take them now and in future be able to leave this off her resume.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I would tweak sightly because I think some of the language is more adversarial than it needs to be (I mean, the OP is perfectly entitled to be adversarial, but we’re talking about how to get the best outcome here), but I think the basics are really great. I’d change just slightly, to:

      “I understand your recruiter offered me terms she wasn’t authorized to offer, but I specifically accepted the job because of these terms and I turned down other offers based on this benefit. How do we fix this and who else should I talk to?”

      1. neverjaunty*

        I wouldn’t agree that the recruiter was not authorized to offer those terms – for all we know she really was, and the company is pulling the old “oh gosh, did she say a thing like that?” bait and switch. Personally I’d phrase it as “I understand your position is that Wakeen offered me terms she wasn’t authorized to offer, but….”

        1. Lisa*

          Why not go to the recruiter and ask why she thought she was authorized to this? Wonder if this has happened before. Depending on the recruiter’s demeanor, you may learn a lot about the company.

  24. Adonday Veeah*

    Off topic, Alison, but there are ads showing up that are NSFW. From Amazon, of all places. I’m going to have to log off and read from home. Can you pls. address?

    1. Ros*

      Amazon ads usually show up based on your browser history… so, probably not something Alison can address. Maybe making sure you’re not logging into your browser with the same ID you use at home would help, though.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yeah, if they’re for specific products from Amazon, they’re pulling from cookies. But if I’m misunderstanding and you can send me a screenshot, I can look into it!

      1. Observer*

        If that’s what your ad network is telling you, you need to find a better support person. Even if they are basing on cookies, they can limit what shows up on your site. And, Amazon in particular knows how to do that.

        I don’t know if you remember, but a few years ago (when a lot of this was still shaking out), some guy got really ticked off that he was getting adult male ads on a Disney blog. Nothing outrageous, but totally inappropriate for the audience of the blog: 6 – 10 year old girls, mostly visiting on their parent’s computer. It was a glitch in Amazon’s system, but they got it fixed pretty quickly once things blew up.

          1. Jeanne*

            I understood it your way Alison. I’ve been searching for a new dress so everywhere I go online the ads are for dresses.

            1. sam*

              Yep – I keep getting ads for the same bag at Madewell that I bought weeks ago. Not sure how effective an ad for a bag I already own is, but it’s *definitely* based on my browser/shopping history :)

          2. Observer*

            And, your assumption is MOSTLY correct. However, what’s missing is that even when ads are based on what the server knows about the person coming to the site, the site owner can also limit what shows up. So, what you really want to ask your network is to make sure that ads coming to your site should be SFW. Amazon can, and will, accommodate that.

    3. AW*

      OK, there’s a site I can’t recall the name of right now but it’s a blog of weird products on Amazon. Looking at one of the products that have been on that site can bring up a host of other weird things as “related” products because those items are looked at almost exclusively by visitors to that site. It’s an side effect of their “visitors who looked at this also looked at” algorithm.

      Not sure if that affects the ads as well but it’s a possible explanation for it if you’ve looked at something off the wall recently but not NSFW.

  25. Holly*

    Any chance you work for my old company? (starts with nF)

    They would totally pull this kind of garbage and they’re a tech company. Sorry you’re dealing with this. It’s a sign of their leadership and it’s not too late to go running for the hills.

  26. Squeegee Beckenheim*

    I don’t understand why companies refuse to negotiate vacation time. It just makes no sense from a cost-benefit perspective. The company I’m at now refuses to negotiate vacation time. All employees start with 10 days and then each year you’re there you get another day. So once you’re there for a while, you have plenty, but in the beginning it can be tough. I wouldn’t be surprised if they lost qualified candidates with years of experience because of this–I know one of my coworkers, who was late 30s with 4 kids when he started here, almost turned down the job because of the lack of negotiability. Personally, I asked for an extra week, my now-boss said yes, and then he came back to me shortly thereafter and said the CFO wouldn’t allow it, so I got a comparable increase in my salary offer. At least this was before I officially accepted.

    1. WarGames*

      Bigger picture — if they have a captive market, the quality doesn’t matter. If the quality doesn’t matter, then qualified candidates are less important. People may complain that their sneakers are made by teenagers overseas instead of by adults with years of experience, but at the end of the day, people aren’t going to do without shoes, and they certainly can’t make them themselves, so things proceed as before. A lot of products and services follow this model.

    2. Mando Diao*

      If you’re in an industry that favors small businesses and start-ups, you’re at the mercy of bosses who probably aren’t educated in business and likely have never worked for other people for very long. I’m in my 30s, and I’ve never worked anywhere that had a dedicated HR department, or even an HR person. The answer for why they’re stingy with vacation time is that, when you work for a company of less than 10 people, one person’s week-long absence means that other people have to stretch themselves thin to complete the work. It’s not a matter of writing off the company for being poorly organized; the company isn’t going to change just because things “should be” set up with more breathing room. The idea that a company could have a surplus of employees to easily absorb work is lovely, but it doesn’t apply to a significant swath of businesses out there, especially if you’re talking about the jobs that are available to recent grads or people who find themselves stuck on certain career tracks.

      1. Nancy*

        For all the boot strapping popular among the entrepreneur crowd, I’ll say this: if your business can’t manage with one person out, your business can’t manage. If you can’t stay afloat without working people to death or cheating them, you can’t stay afloat. A business like that ending up successful is due to luck.

        It’s like thinking you can afford a car, but you can’t swing maintenance or insurance. If you can’t afford those things, you can’t afford the car. They’re necessary costs of ownership, just like leave and benefits are necessary costs of being an employer.

  27. Mockingjay*

    When I was young in the workforce, I accepted an offer from a big company. Great insurance benefits and 3 weeks of vacation leave, plus sick. I actually decided not to negotiate salary (it was a substantial increase over my current salary) since the benefits were so good.

    During first-day orientation, the HR rep explained the leave benefit of 2 weeks. Two weeks? I was offered 3.

    Turns out the company had instituted a new hiring package with fewer benefits. My hiring manager had made the offer based on the old package (which he himself had). He said he would straighten things out, but never did. Being young and self-conscious, I never pushed him on it (I know, I should have).

    Duck and Avoidance was typical of his management style. He was a workaholic who lived for his job. We worked almost every weekend, proposal writing for big dollar contracts. We worked weekends because he changed his mind on everything, so we’d have to rewrite the proposal at least twice before submitting, regardless of planning and outlines.

    I actually had to get HR to intervene when I requested a Friday off (I wanted to go away for the weekend) and he refused to give me an answer on whether I could. Not yes, not no. “I don’t know if I can let you have Friday off. Because I will need you on Saturday and Sunday, too. I’ll have to think about it.” Another time I told him I would come in Sunday after church. He gave me a lecture on how everyone else in the office was skipping church to come in and I should too. (Yeah, I know now how WRONG that is. I didn’t have much backbone in my 20s.)

    I knew the job was a bad fit on Day 1 when, after the shock during orientation, I walked into my new shared office and the coworker stood up and said,”I quit. Good luck; you’re going to need it” and walked out. I stuck it out for 2 horrible years (’80s recession – no other place to go), then transferred to Dream Job in another department, where I remained for 5 happy years.

  28. HM in Atlanta*

    OP – I’m the manager that just hired someone in a similar situation. We made him an offer, he turned us down for a competing offer, and then after he’d been at new employer for 2 weeks they took his no-travel job and made it 70% travel. So he called me, was honest, and he’s working on my team today (I hadn’t hired anyone else yet).

    If any of the other companies you were talking with still have their positions open, please reach back out. It’s really easy to hire the guy you already were interested in rather than keeping going with the interviewing slog.

    1. Wilton Businessman*

      Bingo! And Kudos for you HM for recognizing a good hire and extreme circumstances. You probably have a hire for life.

    2. irritable vowel*

      +1. If you had other offers that you turned down, I’m sure at least one of those places would be happy to hear from you!

  29. BobtheBreaker*

    Im a bit of a weirdo, and from California, so my first question would be “So you’re firing me?”. Because substantially modifying an employment agreement, without consent, is Constructive Termination in CA. It’s also, basically, an auto-win for UI award.

    1. Jeanne*

      I have researched constructive discharge in the past. It’s awfully hard to prove. But you might be right about the ability to get unemployment.

  30. Resume Ideas?*

    So what do people think they should do on their resume if they leave it on.

    I’ve seen a lot of advice recently to put the RFL on the resume in cases like termination, contract terms, etc. What do people thinkg?

    Sorry OP. I don’t have an idea for you!

  31. JenGray*

    I have to agree with the other posters about talking to your manager and explain how big of a deal this really is. You might be able to get the week back but I would be cautious and not give them a lot of time. This should be an easy fix so them dragging their feet on it only hurts you. It floors me sometimes that even though it is proven time and time again that hiring is more expensive than retention companies don’t put the time into retention. I also agree that I would leave it off your resume. It sounds like it has been a very short amount of time so having a small gap is fine. I think it hurts you even more the longer you wait to job search because you will need to eventually put it on your resume- otherwise it ends up being a big gap and unfortunately those hurt you more than smaller ones. I don’t think that that big gaps in employment should hurt you because they could be for any number of reasons but reality proves otherwise.

  32. NicoleK*

    I feel for OP. This happened to me too. When I was hired, I was told verbally and in writing (offer letter) that I was eligible for a management bonus if the organization met our goals. Goals were met. A week before bonuses were given, I was told that I wasn’t eligible for a bonus because I started a month or so too late. I was furious but decided not to fight it because I didn’t want to end up on her bad side.

  33. Ann O'Nemity*

    A good manager will fight for their employee on this bs.

    When I interviewed for my current position, I negotiated for free parking. Since we’re in a downtown location with expensive and extremely limited parking options, this was nice perk. When I started, another HR representative informed me that they were unable to waive the monthly parking fees and that I could either pay up or find other options. I mentioned this to my manager and she quickly got approval to increase my salary to compensate for the cost of parking.

  34. Kat A.*

    Write a review on, though you may want to wait until you leave. Other job applicants should know how this company had handled this.

  35. browneyedgirl*

    When I started at my job the head of my department told me I got a 401k. In fact, that was basically the offer: “Come work for us, you’ll make XX,XXX, I don’t know exactly what the benefits are but they’re pretty good and you get a 401k.”

    But I don’t get a 401k

    Because I’m an intern.


    1. Charlotte*

      Something similar happened to me, but luckily with a better outcome. I had been told I’d get a 3% match on my 401k, once I was eligible for it (after a year of employment), and when a year went by and I hadn’t received any match, I asked my boss about it. His first reaction was along the lines of ‘what match? there is no match,’ and I all I had to go on was a conversation we’d had almost two years prior. He said he’d look into what the plan said, and I left it at that, figuring it’s really up to my boss to decide since I don’t have a written contract and I’m not going to battle this when I’m generally happy at work . I got a statement a few months later with a 12% match, which was a much better outcome than I was expecting!

    2. AVP*

      I was once promised benefits by a hiring manager only to find out that he didn’t understand his own company’s terms, and that all new entry-level hires were considered “two year temps” with hourly rate and no benefits. And that after two years you were ineligible to stay in the job so they had to let you go unless there was a next-level position open that you could apply to. I got out of that one reeeeeal quick.

  36. Purple Jello*

    Does your company have an ethics manual? This certainly wasn’t ethical, even if it was legal.

  37. Grey*

    Situations like this are exactly why I believe that “reason for leaving” belongs on your resume. Why leave a hiring manager to wonder? I don’t see anything wrong with a bullet point at the end that says they failed to honor the negotiated deal.

  38. Former Usher*

    When I was offered a position, I was aware that one of NewJob’s various contracts was up for renewal within a year. Concerned about job security, I asked about this and was told my job would be protected. Yeah, I was naive. Anyhow, they lost the contract and I was given the choice of severance or a 30% pay cut. Companies will make all kinds of promises to get you to join.

  39. Quirk*

    The advice “don’t leave a job without another one lined up” is irrelevant if you’re in tech and in any kind of tech hub area. It’s a seller’s market. The sheer volume of job specs you have to plough through and number of interviews open for you to attend is easier to handle if you’re not finishing up the last job. No company’s going to skip your CV because you have an end date of a month ago – good candidates are hard to come by, and missing out on a good candidate on such grounds would be really stupid.

    With regard to the specifics of this situation – sure, walk, and make it very clear why you’re walking. Depending on the company, the threat of walking may be enough to get someone senior to take HR on on your behalf.

    1. Artemesia*

      I know someone who just quit and took a couple of years off from a high tech job and when he decided to go back to work had 3 fabulous offers within two weeks of going back on the market. You do have to know your field. In my field there were never more than a handful of jobs and you had to be super savvy to get one — any misstep might throw you out of the running.

  40. JJ*

    this happened to me with a work from home agreement- I took the job based on a 3x a week WFH agreement and when I started working, I was told, “oh, no we can’t do that…….” the commute was 50+ miles each way, and the WFH option was the only reason I took the job. I started looking and a new manager happened to come in to our department shortly thereafter, and I told him that if they didn’t honor the agreement I was leaving. he stepped up and got it done and I’m happy with the way things have worked out.

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