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unused vacation pay Massachusetts

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  • unused vacation pay Massachusetts

    My husband recently left a small CPA firm where he worked for 5 years. In his employment contract he received 4 weeks (20 days vacation) per year. It was never on an earned time or accrual basis, simply 20 days per year. On Sept. 12th all employees received an e-mail letting them how many unused vacation and sick days they had remaining through the end of the year. There is no carry over into the next year. His e-mail stated he had 5 days remaining. He did not receive compensation for these unused vacation days in his final paycheck and it has now been 2 weeks and he is yet to receive it. He called the office manager today who checked with the partner my husband reported to and was told that he used one day of vacation since that e-mail,. Also, they were prorating the remaining time and since his billable hours were on the low dide his last week of vacation, he actually owed them a check. Again, his contract was for 20 days a year, no accrual, no prorating etc. Vacation time was never a reward for billable hours and can't be taken to compendate for low hours. Is he entitled to his unused vacation time???

  • #2
    It is by no means unusual, or illegal, for an employer to have a policy by which vacation is accrued over time, and any notices of what vacation time is available reflects not what they hold TODAY, but what they will hold ASSUMING THEY FINISH OUT THE YEAR.

    If such a policy exists, pro-rating the vacation time paid out at termination is quite legal.

    It is quite, quite rare for an employer (particularly in states like MA where vacation must be paid at termination) to give all the vacation time to employees in a block at the beginning of the year. It is almost unheard of for it not to accrue over time.

    However, since you reference an employment contract, I would suggest showing it to an attorney to determine what, if anything he may be due.
    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.

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    • #3
      unused vacation time

      As unusual as it may be, the contract quite specifically reads.. 4 weeks per year (20 days. ). This is not necessarily the same vacation policy for all the employees in the office, the office policy is 2 weeks, but his 4 weeks was a result of negotiation and compromise when they couldn't agree upon a salary. They offered an addition 2 weeks of vacation every year with a few other perks. On 2 occasions I can remember all 20 days were used early in the year without any mention of using vacation time prior to it being accrued. THERE HAS NEVER BEEN ANY POLICY THAT STATES VACATION TIME IS ACCRUED. On Sept 12th a memo to him stated he still has 5 unused vacation days to be used by Dec. 31st or he would lose them. Also, can they without payment based on their perception that his billable hours were low. (They were only about 8 hours short of his usual weekly billings. ) The low hours were a result of meeting time with the partner to review any unfinished work.

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      • #4
        Generally speaking, in the area of vacation, the standard is that vacation is earned as the time is worked. Whether that's what the contract meant or not is obviously subject to interpretation. But, having said that, if the company policy is that it is accrued, and the only difference is that your husband negotiated for 4 weeks the first year instead of the usual 2 weeks, it is unlikely that the whole 4 weeks would be vested immediately, if vacation for employees without an employment contract is not.
        I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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        • #5
          And the answer is STILL to show the contract to an attorney.
          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.

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