Your Vacation Time Belongs to You

Contrary to popular belief, California labor laws do not require that employers provide employees with paid vacation time. However, California has one of the most competitive job markets in the world and many employers offer vacation time to employees in order to attract and keep good employees. For these employers, vacation time is written into their policy handbook.

Significantly, although state law does not require paid vacation time for employees, this time becomes protected once an employee has earned vacation time in accordance with their employer’s policy. This is because of how the law protects employees’ wages. Essentially, all earned wages are the property of an employee and for an employer to improperly withhold, delay, or fail to pay these wages is akin to stealing.

  • Check your employer’s policies regarding vacation. These policies should spell out how you earn vacation time. For example, your employer may allow for you to accrue one day of vacation per month, which means that you would have earned twelve days total if you worked for a consecutive year. Check your wage and leave statements to make sure that they accurately reflect the leave you have earned.
  • If you are a new employee, there is generally a waiting period before you can begin accruing leave. This can be 90 days, six months, or even a year, depending on your employer’s policy.
  • An employee is not free to take these vacation days at any time they choose. Instead, employers have a lot of discretion to approve or deny leave requests based on staffing issues and effectively running their business. However, making it extraordinarily difficult or impossible to actually use vacation leave is a problem.
  • Employers have some freedom to cap the maximum amount of vacation that an employee can accrue, as long as it is specifically spelled out in their policy. However, because accrued vacation time counts as earned wages, employers cannot take or eliminate an employee’s accrued vacation time. So if an employer has a policy that says you will lose any unused vacation time if you don’t use it by December 31st, this policy is unlawful.

Moss Bollinger Law Firm

If you work for one of the many employers that offers vacation time, it is critical that you know and exercise your legal rights. If your employer has a use-it-or-lose-it policy, or is not awarding you with vacation leave in accordance with its policies, then you may have a legal claim. Moss Bollinger is a California employee rights law firm. Your accrued vacation time belongs to you. We work on a contingency basis, which means that you pay no up front fees. Call Moss Bollinger at (866) 535-2994 to schedule a free consultation, or submit an online form.

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