CAN MY COMPANY PAY BACK UNUSED VACATION DAYS IF I DECIDE TO QUIT MY JOB THIS YEAR?

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CAN MY COMPANY PAY BACK UNUSED VACATION DAYS IF I DECIDE TO QUIT MY JOB THIS YEAR?

THE COMPANY REVISED OUR WAGE & BENEFIT PACKAGE. WHEN I WAS HIRED, THEY HAD A CONTRACT STATING THAT UNUSED VACATIONS WERE PAID BACK TO EMPLOYEES IF THEY DECIDED TO QUIT. NOW, THE REVISED CONTRACT STATES OUR UNUSED VACATION DAYS WILL FORFEITED AND WE MUST USE ALL OF THEM BEFORE OUR NEXT ANNIVERSAY DATE. AND WE HAVE TO SIGN THE CONTRACT. CAN MY OLD CONTRACT BE VALID?

Asked on June 20, 2009 under Employment Labor Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

You have a right to not sign the new contract. However, since NJ is an "employment at will" state, which means that generally speaking, employers can fire someone any time for any reason, unless there is something in your old contract restricting their ability to fire you, your employer could then choose to terminate your employment. (If they did, you'd at least be paid out the vacation, under the terms of the old contract.)

It's becoming less common for employees to carry over vacation days and be paid them out upon leaving--more and more companies are putting various restrictions on vacation days' use and carry forward. Unless you are confident that your current contract protects you from being fired (i.e. the contract lists the only reasons you may be terminated, and refusing to sign a new contract or go along with new policies is not one of them), be warned that standing up for your rights in your vacation days may cost you your job.

Not that this is a "legal" answer, but I was in the same position once (in NY) and since I'd had alot of carry over days, I was able to convince my company to cash out some of my days at a discount (I received a check for 1 day of work for every three excess vacation days I turned in) and to also give me an extra 3 months to use up the remaining surplus days (since I was able to point to a vacation I had scheduled that fell after the anniversary date). Depending on your relationship with your boss and company, perhaps you could negotiate something for any extra days.

Good luck.


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