If I was terminated the day before my paid vacation began, am I still owed my earned vacation time?

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If I was terminated the day before my paid vacation began, am I still owed my earned vacation time?

After working as a full-time, salaried manager for 2 years, I was terminated a day before my week paid vacation began. I was terminated due to them getting rid of my position because of financial reasons. I looked over the employee manual and no where does it state you must currently be employed to receive your vacation time. It states “All vacations are earned as of the employee’s anniversary of their hire date. Vacation time must be taken and cannot be accumulated from year to year. Written approval from the General Manager must be obtained one month prior to taking the vacation.”

Asked on October 25, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Companies do not have to provide vacation time--it is purely voluntary on their part. Because it is voluntary, they have considerable  discretion about their vacation policies. As part  of that, companies can determine for themselves whether or not they will allow employees to use or be paid for accrued vacation days upon or after the termination of employment. As the MI Dept. of Energy, Labor, and Economic Growth, Wage and Hour Division, puts it:

"[I]f the company policy has a pay-out provision which states that unused [vacation] time will paid to you when you separate your employment, then the employer would obligagted to pay you for th unused time... the employer would not be legally obligated to pay for you unused time if the company policy does not address the issue." 

So there is a policy that you should be paid out for the time, they have to pay it out. If there is no policy, they don't have to pay it out or let you use it.


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