Can I Get Compensated for My Unused Vacation Time?

Person fired from job packing up their office supplies

When California employees leave one job for another, they may have unpaid vacation time left over from their initial employment. With the summer traveling season upon us, employees in this situation may wonder what is to come of their unused vacation time?

In general, California employers do not have to pay employees for vacation time. However, many employers offer this key employment benefit to workers.

California Law

If an employer offers vacation time to employees, they must follow strict guidelines set by California lawmakers.

Vacation Time Does Not Expire
In California, unused vacation time does not expire. That means employers can not require employees to use vacation time by a certain date (also known as a “use it or lose it” policy). However, some employers may have policies that state employees may only accrue a set amount of vacation time or have a cap on the amount of vacation time an employee can have at once. Employees must follow this rule if the employer has this policy in place.

Vacation Time Must Be Paid Out at the End of Employment
Whether an employee quit their job voluntarily or was fired, they are entitled to compensation for unused vacation time. Employees should be aware of this law and double-check their final paycheck to ensure they were paid for the time earned. The vacation pay rate should equal the regular pay rate the employee earned per hour.

Benefits of Getting Paid for Unused Vacation Time

The most significant benefit of getting paid for unused vacation time is the feeling of financial stability during a transition period. Any additional monetary compensation will usually be welcomed, especially for employees who were let go. As the employee seeks another job, compensation for unused vacation time may give the employee a financial cushion during the transition period.

Additionally, employees looking to take a break before beginning their new job search may feel more comfortable in this process if they have a larger balance available in their bank account than they typically would.

Employers Denying Vacation Time Pay

Unfortunately, some employers may feel that they do not need to pay employees who are fired or quit their due vacation time. Employers may believe this way, particularly for part-time or temporary employees. However, the law is on the employees’ side if they accrued any vacation time.

Additionally, an employer may try to claim that an employee was not eligible to receive vacation time, especially if the employee had only been with the company for a short period of time. Employees will need to verify this information in their company’s handbook to see when they became eligible for vacation time and have every right to fight this false allegation if they find the employer was in the wrong.

Other tactic employers may try to utilize is taking away vacation days before an employee leaves the company. If an employee is voluntarily leaving the company, an employer may try to punish that employee by removing vacation time earned by the employee. This is illegal and employees can take action if they suspect their employer conducted this type of behavior.

How Strauss & Strauss, APC Can Help

If you are unsure whether or not you will be paid for your unused vacation time or suspect your employer acted unjustly with your vacation time, you have every right to seek assistance from an experienced employment lawyer. The team at Strauss & Strauss, APC can help you understand your rights and options under the law.

If you have questions about unpaid vacation wages, contact our dedicated lawyers who will do everything possible to get you the best result from your situation. Fill out our online contact form or call us at (805) 303-8115.

Related Posts
  • California Meal Break Requirements Read More
  • Which Workplace Expenses Can Be Reimbursed? Read More
  • Wage Claim Options: Labor Commissioner/Board or Civil Court? Read More