Right now, even non-sports fans here in the state can get pretty excited about having both the men’s and the women’s basketball teams from the University of Connecticut headed to their respective Final Fours.  

But suppose one of your employees was somcopyright 2009 Daniel A. Schwartz all rights reservedehow able to secure tickets to the games in either Detroit or St. Louis. Are you, as an employer, obligated to give that employee time off?

Well, the Department of Labor makes it very clear that items such as vacation pay are fringe benefits that are provided at the discretion of the employer.  

So, where does that leave many employers? It means employers will be bound by the rules they’ve set up in their policies or procedures manuals for handling days off.   Some employers give employees a good deal of flexibility about taking time off; others, who set schedules far in advance, are less so.  

Of course, there is always that one employee who calls in "sick" — only to appear on television later on cheering at the game.  Can you discipline the employee then? The straight answer is typically yes. If employees are being deceptive about their absences, the employer has that discretion.

But here’s hoping that everyone uses this time to play by the rules and shows a little bit of common sense.  In a time of economic hardship for so many, watching the games is a nice escape for a few hours.    

Go UConn!