If I was terminated from my job what is my right to be paid for my accrued vacation time?

My employer recently fired me after 12 years of service. I was a salaried employee but I was also granted vacation pay in the form of PTO’s. With the exception of taking out $500 earlier this year, I never used any of this benefit. Therefore, I have 12 years x 2 weeks of vacation time. There are no stipulations in the employee handbook regarding limits on converting this benefit into cash. My employer claims that I am only entitled to the past 2 years and that she is not obligated to pay me this amount as a lump sum, only 2 weeks per year.

Asked on November 11, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, there is no law  in your state requiring that accrued but unused paid time off be paid on termiantion of employment. Therefore, unless you had a written employment contract guarantying you payment for unused time, it is up to your employer whether to pay out unused PTO time on termination of employment--and if they choose to pay, how much to pay, and how (i.e. timing, etc.) to pay it. 
That said, if the company had a demonstrable or proven policy of paying time out on termination and did not formally change that (i.e. no announcement of a change)  prior to your termination, you may be able to force them to honor their own policy--you'd have to sue to do this; are not guaranteed of success; and have to be able to show that it was clearly the policy (and hence part of the terms or conditions under which you worked) to pay out PTO on termination.


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