Blanchard & Walker Weekly

Topic of the Week  Vacation Pay and Other Paid Leave Rights at Work

Federal law does not require that employers offer vacation time to their employees. Unlike many other countries, though not required by federal law, many employers choose to provide their employees with such benefits to prevent employee burnout and boost employee morale. Depending on the laws in your state regarding vacation pay and your employer\'s internal policy, how employers go about offering vacation time can differ significantly. Paid or unpaid, use it or lose it, and paid time off instead of vacation days, are some examples of different vacation time policies.

1. My company doesn\'t have vacation leave but has a \"Paid Time Off\" (PTO) system. How is that different from vacation leave?

More companies are moving to a \"paid time off\" (PTO) system where days off are not designated as vacation leave, sick leave, or personal leave. Employees are given a number of days to manage however they choose. If they rarely get sick, they can have more vacation/personal leave days. If they are sick enough to not be able to work, they can take the time off they need, but it may cut into the amount of vacation time they can take. 

2. I have accrued vacation time that I will not use before leaving my company. Is the company required to pay me for that time?

It depends on your employer and where you live. 27 states—Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island (after one year of employment), South Dakota, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Wyoming—and the District of Columbia have laws regarding payment of accrued vacation time. However, in those states, you are only given a legal right to challenge an employer over unpaid accrued vacation time in your final paycheck if the employer promised payment of unpaid accrued vacation time in your final paycheck. In the rest of the states, there is no state law that requires your employer to pay you for accrued vacation leave, although your employer may do so voluntarily.

3. My workplace is closed due to the weather conditions. Can I be forced to use my vacation time to get paid for that day off?

Yes, an employer can force you to use a vacation day when your workplace is closed due to weather. The reason being is that there is no law requiring employers to offer vacation time in the first place. However, the employer cannot make up the policy the day it snows. The weather policy must have been in writing or posted where it is accessible for employees.

Thought of the Week

"When your kitchen table becomes your office, it gets harder and harder to distinguish between work and home. Sadly, we’ve seen more and more workers — across all sectors — not taking vacation and personal time offered by their employers, whether that’s due to an increased workload or a struggle to find a good work/life balance."

–Claire Barnes | SVP of HR at Monster Worldwide

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Blog of the Week

Top Five News Headlines

    List of the Week

    from ADP

    Facts on Paid Leave:

    • No law requires employers to provide paid vacation time
    • 90% of FT employees receive paid vacation time
    • Only 21 U.S. jurisdictions require employers to provide Paid Sick Leave

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