Tribune Publishing reverses vacation policy after employees threaten lawsuit

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The Los Angeles Times building. (Photo: Flickr / LA Wad)

The Los Angeles Times building. (Photo: Flickr / LA Wad)

Tribune Publishing has reversed a newly-implemented policy of offering newspaper employees “discretionary” vacation after a group of employees threatened to sue the company, according to a report.

The discretionary leave policy, announced last week, offered employees the option of choosing when to take vacation and for how long, instead of offering a fixed number of vacation days or weeks based on years committed to the company, according to an internal memo obtained by industry journalist Jim Romenesko.

The intent of the discretionary leave policy was to “reduce employee burnout and create better work/life balance,” Romenesko reported. Under the policy, time off was awarded after getting approval from management.

One week later, Tribune Publishing reversed course on the discretionary leave policy after a group of Los Angeles Times employees threatened to sue the company. The employees claimed the new policy eliminated the ability for staffers to cash out their accrued vacation time, according to Romenesko.

California labor laws require companies to pay employees any unused vacation time upon termination of employment.

An internal memo obtained by Romenesko cited “valuable input from employees” as the decision to go back to accrued vacation days.

“In reversing the decision, our Company is reverting back to its long-standing policy of providing a fixed amount of vacation, floating holidays and sick days per year based on level and tenure with the Company,” the memo said. “Additionally, employees in California will continue to retain accrued and unused vacation.”

Tribune Publishing, which operates more than a dozen local newspapers, was spun off from the legacy Tribune Company earlier this year.

Jim Romenesko: Tribune rescinds discretionary leave policy