What does the law say about being paid for unused vacation after leaving a job?

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What does the law say about being paid for unused vacation after leaving a job?

When I left my job I had 14.5 days remaining, and the site where we entered our vacation clearly showed that I had 14.5 unused days. When I received my final pay, it was much less than what I thought, and the HR director told me I was only being paid for 5 days because that is what I had accrued to date. She then told me that when I was working I could have used my full 15 days at any time, including right at the first of the year after our time off for the year reset. Is this legal? How could I use time I had not yet accrued? I could not do this with sick time. Can I fight this?

Asked on May 2, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Like most states, PA does not require employers to provide vacation at all to employees, or to pay them out for unused days on termination of employment. All the employer is required to do is to honor whatever policy was in force--i.e. whatever policy they voluntarily chose--as of when you were terminated. So it should pay out your days in accordance with its own then-in-place policy; if that policy only required the payment of, say, 5 days, that would be legal. You can look to employee handbooks or memos on the subject to determine policy; if there is no guidance there, look to what was done with other employees on similar separation from employment.


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