Once an employee quits or is fired from their job, they are entitled to certain things such as a final paycheck. They may also be entitled to financial compensation for certain benefits that they have but did not use while employed. Often, one of these unused benefits is vacation time or holiday pay.

What Is Considered Vacation Time?

Vacation time is time off from work designated by an employer that an employee can use for whatever reason. An employee may be paid for those vacation hours. Typically, these days must be used within a specific time period.

Can I Be Paid for Unused Vacation Time after I Leave an Employer?

It depends on state law as to whether you are entitled to be paid for any unused vacation time. For example, 24 states require an employer to pay an employee for any vacation time that the employee did not use. In some jurisdictions, an employee must work for an employer for at least one year to be eligible to receive unpaid vacation time.

When Will I Receive the Compensation?

The money that is used to compensate an employee for any unused vacation time is usually added to their last paycheck.

Is Possible to Not Receive Compensation for All of My Unused Vacation Time?

Yes. An employer may decide to limit or not pay for unused vacation time if the employee:

  • Quits without notice
  • Is fired for disciplinary reasons 

What If My State Requires Unused Vacation Time Payment?

Even if your state requires payment for unused vacation time in general, the law may still leave the final decision up to the employer as to whether or not they will pay a former employee for unused vacation time in certain circumstances. Thus, it would be advisable for you to check your employee handbook to see what steps you need to take in order to ensure that you receive any owed compensation for the vacation time that you did not use.

What Can I Do If My Employer Fails to Pay for Unused Vacation Time?

An employee may notify a former employer in writing that they were not paid for unused vacation time. If notifying the former employer does not work, the employee can:

  • File a wage claim with the state’s employment agency
  • File a lawsuit against their former employer

Do I Need to Talk to a Lawyer about Not Receiving Unused Vacation Time?

You deserve to be paid all of the money that your former employer owes you, including compensation for unused benefits. Consult an employment lawyer about your options for procuring compensation that you are owed for unused vacation time.