Unpaid Wages for Unused Vacation Days: What Are My Legal Rights? By Gregory Thyberg on September 02, 2023

A man and a woman with confused expressions sitting across from a woman in a suitEmployers are not legally required to provide paid vacation but when they do, employees have certain rights around the wages they’ve earned through their vacation benefits. One of these rights is the right to receive the wages they’re owed for unused vacation days at the time of the termination of employment.

Employment law attorney Gregory Thyberg represents employees who have been refused vacation wages by a former employer. For more information about how Gregory Thyberg can help or to discuss your legal rights for unpaid wages for unused vacation days in Sacramento, CA, we welcome you to schedule a consultation.

What Does California Law Say About Unused Vacation Days?

Under California law, an employer doesn’t have to give employees vacation pay, but if vacation pay is provided, the employer must pay the employee for unused vacation days.

Further, the employee must be paid regardless of the reason their employment ended and they must be paid out at their final rate of pay.

When Do Employers Need to Pay For Unused Vacation Days?

Paid vacation benefits are considered wages in California so they must be included in the employee’s final paycheck.

Employers must pay a full day of wages for each unused vacation day at the employee’s rate of pay at the time of quitting or termination.

Employers Can Set Rules Around Vacation Use

Although employees who are given paid vacation benefits are legally entitled to receive pay for unused vacation time at the end of their employment, employers are generally free to set rules around vacation use.

For example, employers may not allow employees to take vacation during certain times of the year or they may require employees to request using their vacation time with several weeks notice.

Additionally, employers can set caps on the amount of vacation time an employee can accrue as well as whether vacation time is available to both full time and part time employees.

Vacation Rules Cannot Discriminate

Employers are largely free to make their own rules and policies around vacation use, but vacation rules cannot discriminate based on an employee’s sex, religion, race, age, sexual orientation, disability, or other characteristics protected by anti-discrimination laws.

Employees Are Legally Entitled to Wages for Unused Vacation Days

Employers are legally required to pay their employees for unused vacation days at the time their employment ends, regardless of whether they were fired or quit on their own. Employers can’t refuse to pay for unused vacation time and they can’t take away vacation time in retaliation. 

Former employees in Sacramento who have not been paid for their unused vacation time may be able to recover their unpaid wages through an unpaid wages lawsuit. An employment attorney can determine whether there’s grounds for a lawsuit or provide other options for pursuing unpaid wages for unused vacation days.

Contact Thyberg Law

If you were refused pay for your unused vacation days by your former employer, you may be entitled to compensation. Schedule a consultation with Sacramento employment law attorney Gregory Thyberg to learn more about your legal options.

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Thyberg Law

Since 1981, Gregory A. Thyberg has been providing legal services to clients throughout Sacramento. With a focus on employment law, he can help you find a solution when facing discrimination, harassment, or other workplace injustices. Mr. Thyberg is affiliated with organizations like the:

  • California Bar Association
  • San Francisco Trial Lawyer’s Association

If you're experiencing unlawful discrimination in the workplace, request a consultation with Mr. Thyberg or call (916) 204-9173.

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