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Paid time off

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  • Paid time off

    Is it true that employers must pay employees for unused paid time off or allow employees to carry the time over to the next year provided that the employer requires employees to "earn" the time at a fixed rate, and not true if
    employees were allowed to take a certain amount of paid time off (say 40 hours) anytime without earning it? Please confirm/refute.

    I understand that employers can cap accrued time. Is there a minimum number of hours for the accrual cap and is the employer required to pay for hours accrued beyond the cap?

  • #2
    What state are you in?

    For the record, no state has a mandatory paid time off statute - earned or not.

    The only reason your state matters is if there are regulations fenced around time promised but not used.
    Not everything that makes you mad, sad or uncomfortable is legally actionable.

    I am not now nor ever was an attorney.

    Any statements I make are based purely upon my personal experiences and research which may or may not be accurate in a court of law.


    • #3
      As your question is written, no, it is not true.

      In SOME states (but by no means all) employers are required to pay out any accrued but unused vacation according to the company policy. How much, if any, time is due may be affected based on how the time is accrued. An employer may permit an employee to take time in advance of earning but no state allows it and only in CA does their doing so give the employee any advantage.

      There is NO state that requires an employer to provide paid leave at all. In all 50 states, whether or not to provide paid leave, how much, and under what terms it is accrued (some exceptions in CA) is up to the employer.
      The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.


      • #4
        Thank you all for your responses, but by them I know I did not make myself clear when I first posted this inquiry. Hopefully, my questions are now clearer.

        I own a small company in California. We have a paid time off policy that allows staff to earn both vacation (up to 120 hrs/yr depending on years of service) and sick/personal leave hours (40 hrs max) every calendar year. Staff are not permitted to carry unused hours over to the next year. They are paid for unused vacation hours at the end of the year, but not for unused sick leave hours.

        I want to know if I am violating California labor law by not paying them for earned sick/personal leave hours and if so, I would be within the law by not requiring them to earn the hours, but simply let them have up to 40 paid hours off anytime during any calendar year if they are sick or need some personal time off.

        I have been allowing staff to take more paid vacation hours off than they have earned up to the maximum earnable amount per year. If they voluntarily quit after being paid for hours they have not earned, can I dock them?

        I am thinking about allowing staff to accrue unused vacation hours, but want to cap the amount. I want to know if California has a minimum cap above which a staff member loses any accrued time. I also want to know if I must pay a staff member for time accrued beyond the cap, i.e., does staff loss of earned hours beyond the cap also means loss of pay for those hours.


        • #5
          In California, vacation and sick pay are legally two very different things. Vacation is vested and sick pay is not. I would be very careful to not confuse the two in your company's policies. The vacation rules are shown below. Sick rules are pretty much whatever your company wants them to be because CA has no vesting rules on sick pay.

          There is no legal requirement that vacation balances cannot be carried forward, but there is a legal requirement that if the employer is going to forfeit the unused vacation balance that it be bought off (which is what your company is doing). There is no such sick pay requirement.

          "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
          Philip K. **** (1928-1982)


          • #6
            Unless I misunderstood the most recent response, I have not received a clear answer to my question regarding payment for time an employee accrues past the accrual cap. For example, say I have a policy that says employees can carry unused paid vacation hours from year to year, but cannot accrue more than 300 hours and an employee accrues 400 hours, losing 100. Am I required to pay that employee for the 100 hours he lost?

            Also, I have not received an answer regarding cap minima in CA.


            • #7
              - In CA, vacation once earned must by either paid or taken. It cannot forfeited. Assuming that the "100 hours" was vacation, then those 100 hours must be paid or taken.
              - CA has no "cap" rules.

              Let's one more time post the pointer to CA rules on the subject. May I suggest that you read them this time. Thank you.

              Last edited by DAW; 09-18-2007, 05:37 AM.
              "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
              Philip K. **** (1928-1982)


              • #8
                My questions have been answered. Thank you again.


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