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Accrued Vacation Hours Or Not

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  • Accrued Vacation Hours Or Not

    I work in california my employer had told us that we would be getting one week vacation time after one year of working there. All of a sudden her HR manager decided to change it 3 months ago to 3 days after one year. Can they do that. Also is there a procedure for calculating accrued vacations hours. For instance I will be there for one year at the end of this month however if I quit before the end of this month am I entitled to cash out some vacation hours. And if so how will I know how much since they do not calculate it on our checks.

  • #2
    Vacation in California

    Though California doesn't require vacations, it does require that an employer providing vacations accrue the vacation over time, rather than at the end of a year. Further, the accrued and unused vacation must be paid to a terminating employee. THe state does not permit "use it or lose it" plans.

    Because of that accrual requirement, the HR Department cannot change the amount of vacation due from 1 week to 3 days in arrears. In can, in most cases, reduce the amount moving forward.
    Lillian Connell

    Forum Moderator


    • #3
      So basically if I quit before my year is up do they have to cash out my vacation time? If so how do I know what I should receive?


      • #4
        Payment of Vacation

        Yes, you should receive your vacation. The amount is the amount promised for the year, divided by the pay periods you worked and less any vacation time you did take. (The pay period issue can be pushed...however, that is the stance that most employers take.)
        Lillian Connell

        Forum Moderator


        • #5
          CA Accrued Vacation Time - Related Question

          My company's vacation pay policy appears to be a "use-it-or-lose-it" approach as the following excerpt from the manual implies:
          'Any PTO (paid time off) accumulated which exceeds 15 days or 120 hours that is not taken in the current calendar year will not be carried over and will be forfeited by the employee. A day of PTO is equal to eight hours of pay at your regular hourly rate of pay.'

          I have worked for this employer for 7+ yrs in various management roles. Over that time I have accumulated unused vacation time - by my calculations - over twice the 120 hour cap implied by the company policy.

          I will be ending my employment at this company in two weeks and intend to submit my claim for all the hours I have calculated as unused to be paid out.

          I contacted the local CA Div. of Labor Stds Enforcement office, explaining my situation and seeking confirmation of the position I plan to take. To my surprise, she informed that - even though the company policy of forfeiture may not meet state laws - that I may not be due all this vacation time "...unless I asked for the time off and it was not allowed." This does not jibe with what other laypersons with some experience in vacation accrual issues have told me.

          Any and all advice regarding my situation is much appreciated.
          Thank you!


          • #6
            porto, I'm not buying it. I was in HR/Payroll for many years in California. Payout of accrued vacation is required by law at termination. And use it or lose it policies are not legal. Vacation is vested as accrued. See here:
            I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.


            • #7

              Believe me, your reply is music to my ears! I'd like to hang my hat on FAQ #4 vs #5 on the DLSE website you referenced.

              This is a +$10K question for me. I want to be on firm ground into negotiations next week and would prefer not to have to engage an attorney - nor back down from my calc'd PTO balance (I've kept every email sent to HR for all PTO taken).

              'Laypersons' I mentioned are a non-lawyer friend who worked for a benefits planning firm for many years. Her mantra has been "ERISA,'re S.O.L."

              Also, LConnell, a moderator on this board hinted to an ERISA exception to no 'use it or lose it' - at least my perception - in an earlier related thread.

              Please reconfirm that you think I'm on firm ground and my employer has no wiggle room.



              • #8
                I am no means an ERISA expert, but I don't believe this is an ERISA issue. And even if it were, the state law would prevail, since it is more advantageous to the employee. You can go back to the FAQ page I gave you and get the actual legal cite by following the hyperlink to the Labor Code, Section 227.3.

                Good luck to you. Don't negotiate this requirement away (I've worked for an employer who tried to get his employees to do that). It's a legally required no-brainer. If you don't get all your accrued vacation on your termination date, file a claim with the state Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.
                I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.


                The forum is intended for informational use only and should not be relied upon and is not a substitute for legal advice. The information contained on are opinions and suggestions of members and is not a representation of the opinions of does not warrant or vouch for the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any postings or the qualifications of any person responding. Please consult a legal expert or seek the services of an attorney in your area for more accuracy on your specific situation.