Can an employee be made to pay back vacation hours?

“When 80 hours of vacation were allotted on your check at the beginning of the year it was under the assumption that you would be employed for the full year. You resigned effective July 13. That gives you 44.5 hours of vacation for the year. The 35.5 hours of vacation you owe was taken from your last check, in doing this there was not enough pay to cover your health insurance premium for July. Please send $136.36 to cover this.” We (employees) have received no documentation whatsoever explaining this policy, which basically is saying if you take your 80 hours of vacation time before July, you are obligated to pay back 40 hours. It is certainly unfair, but is it legal without any notification of such policy?

Asked on July 29, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Florida


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

What you have written is in violation of the labor laws of all states in this country in that an employer cannot unilaterally make an employee pay back vacation pay by taking such money out of one's pay check without his or her consent in writing. Such unilteral debit would have to be stated in the signed employee employer handbook of the employer to be valid.

From a business standpoint, it was poor judgment for the employer to pre-pay his or her employees their vacation time when such has not been earned.

For the employer to get back unearned vacation pay, the employer either gets a voluntary return of the money or files a lawsuit to get it.

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