Can my employer make me pay back all money paid for used vacation time?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can my employer make me pay back all money paid for used vacation time?

I have been working full for my current employer for
7 years. Full time employees who work 40 hours per
week, i work 47.5 with no overtime pay either, will be
elegible for 5 days paid vacation time. Our vacation
is accrued from September to August 31st of each
year. I have given my two weeks notice and August
4th will be my last day. My boss is trying to tell me
that i have to pay back my vacation to her since I am
leaving before August 31. But I believe I have earned
that vacation. I am not sure if that is legal or not.

Asked on July 23, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

It is legal: the law does not mandate any particular way, schedule, or system for accruing vacation time--whatever system a company sets up is legal. So the company's accrual system or schedule is legal. If you use or take vacation before earning or accruing it, then leave before you accrue the days you used, the employee must repay the value of the used but unearned vacation time. Essentally, if you use vacation before earning it, you were "loaned" vacation; your normally repay that loan by earning or accruing the days you used, but if you don't do that because of when you leave employment, you must repay with money.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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