Can my employer revoke previously approved vacation time?
Question Details: I am currently in Ireland and have worked remotely for my company in the US for 40 hours. The next 2 weeks are approved vacation days and I had intended to not work at all. My supervisor just asked what my plans are for next week. They know that I had planned to take it off but things have changed and now they may need me to work. I'm devastated. My family flew in from as far as Australia to spend next week together as a family in a vacation home. The last time we did this was 5 years ago and with my elderly parents we are fully aware this is very likely the last time we can do this. Do I have any options here or do I have to work if they tell me that I have to? Can they fire me if I tell them that I cannot work? I don;t even know if there's WiFi at this vacation home that will even allow me to work.
Under U.S. law, an employer may revoke previously approved vacation time: when you can take vacation is at the employer's discretion, so long as they don't prevent you from ever using it. It is not uncommon for time off to be revoked or rescheduled if there is a work crises, critical deadline, etc. Therefore, if you refuse to work, in U.S. law you could be terminated. However, if you spent money in reliance on the employer having booked your vacation time--e.g. rented a vacation house--the employer would have to reimburse you that cost under the theory of "promissory estoppel": when you change your position to your detriment based on someone's promise when it would be reasonable to know that you would act in reliance on what they promised, they may have to compensate you.
That is under U.S. law. Labor law is, however local, at least under U.S. theory: for example, if you work in NY for a CA-based company, NY labor law applies unless you have a written contract which by its terms applies CA law. If you are remote employee based in Ireland, it is possible that Irish law on this subject may apply. We can only comment on U.S. law; recommend you seek information about how Irish law may impact this situation.