Forfeiture of Accrued Vacation Time

What does the law say about vacation pay?

Earned vacation time is considered wages under California law. While an employer is not legally required to provide vacation time, if it decides to do so then it must pay an employee his accrued vacation  upon separation of employment. The vacation must be paid as wages at the employee's final rate of pay.

Can my employer force me to forfeit my accrued vacation?

Vacation plans may not have a "use it or lose it" provision such as stating that an employee loses all his accrued vacation time if he does not use it by a certain date. Such a provision would be an illegal forfeiture. For example, if an employee is entitled to two weeks of vacation per year, after six months of work he will have earned five days of vacation. Vacation pay accrues as it is earned and cannot be forfeited under any circumstances. If the employee was fired after six months, he would still be entitled to five days of additional compensation for his accrued vacation.

Is it legal for my employer to place a cap on vacation time?

Employers can legally place a cap on the amount of vacation time that an employee may accrue as long as the cap is "reasonable". For instance, if an employer offers three weeks paid vacation a year, it would be legal to implement a cap of nine weeks. An employee who met the nine week cap would then not accrue any additional vacation time until and unless he used some vacation time to fall below the nine week cap. Other types of caps, however, are not legal such as requiring that an employee use all his vacation time in the year it is earned .

How can an attorney help you?

Employers frequently fail to pay for vacation time upon termination, or implement illegal vacation forfeiture policies, because they feel their employees do not know about their vacation time rights. A experienced employment attorney can advise you on your rights and help you recover wages for lost accrued vacation time. We are experienced in vacation pay issues. If your employer refuses to pay, we can help you file a claim with the Labor Commissioner or in state court.

We will fight to obtain the maximum possible recovery in your case. Remember: no recovery, no fees. We only get paid if we obtain a positive recovery in your case.
Norcal Employment Counsel - Representing Employees in Workplace Disputes Throughout Northern California
Norcal Employment Counsel - Representing Employees in Workplace Disputes Throughout Northern California
We can review the facts of your case and give you an honest evaluation of any vacation policy issue you are facing. 

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