Vacation Days

Wage & Hour Laws July 22nd, 2019
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How Can I Take Vacation Days?


California employment law is a complicated area of the law that deals with the complex relationship between employees and employers. For instance, there are laws in place that govern what California employees are entitled to, as far as paid time off, sick leave and vacation leave. In California, paid vacations are a form of compensation for work employees perform, and while there is no law requiring employers to provide paid vacation days, employers who elect to offer their employees vacation leave must comply with California state law. If your employer violates California labor law by revoking your vacation leave or failing to compensate you for vacation days you rightfully earned, you may be able to recover compensation by filing a wage and hour lawsuit. Contact our California employment law attorney at Davtyan Law Firm today to discuss your legal options.


Understanding CA Vacation Leave Law


Unlike paid sick leave for eligible employees, California labor law does not require employers to provide employees with vacation time. However, many employers offer employees vacation days as a benefit, and if this is the case, once the employee earns (or accrues) vacation time according to the employer’s policy, the employee cannot lose that time for any reason. If a California employee is entitled to vacation leave, the employer must treat the accrued vacation time as earned wages and cannot take these days away for any reason, including as a penalty.

In California, an employee’s vacation time does not expire, even if the employee doesn’t use the days, and if an employee is terminated or leaves the company, the employer must pay out vacation time the employee accrued but did not use, unless otherwise stipulated by a collective bargaining agreement. Although an employer may require an employee to use vacation days and take time off to avoid a buildup of too much vacation leave, it is important to understand that taking “expired” vacation days away under a “use-it-or-lose-it” policy is in violation of California labor law.


Accruing Vacation Days in California


Vacation leave accrual can vary a great deal from employer to employer. One employer’s vacation policy, for example, may provide for the earning of vacation time on a day-by-day basis, while another provides for the earning of vacation time by the week, by the pay period, or by some other period. As mentioned earlier, because earned vacation is a form of wages, it is against the law for employers in California to revoke an employee’s vacation days once the employee has earned the time by performing work. California employers can, however, reasonably create a vacation policy that places a cap on how many vacation days an employee can earn and imposes certain restrictions on using the vacation time. Some examples of legal vacation leave restrictions may include:

  • Preventing employees from earning vacation time during their first six months of employment
  • Requiring pre-approval for taking time off
  • Putting a limit on the number of vacation days an employee can use in a row
  • Noting certain days or periods that are not available as time off, such as during the holidays
  • Excluding certain classes of employees, such as temporary or part-time employees, from accruing vacation time
  • Putting a limit on vacation day accrual and prohibiting employees from earning any more vacation time until they fall below the established “cap”

Because there are no specific laws in California requiring employers to provide vacation leave, employers do have some say in how employees accrue and use their vacation days if they choose to offer them to employees as a benefit. However, there are strict regulations in place prohibiting employers from establishing company vacation policies that have a disproportionate adverse effect on certain employees.


Contact Our CA Employment Law Attorney Today


Because vacation days are treated as earned wages under California law, failure to compensate an employee for unused vacation time would be like refusing to pay an employee for time worked, which is against the law. It is also against the law for an employer to terminate or otherwise retaliate against an employee who reports the employer’s failure to pay employees for their accrued vacation days. If you find yourself in any of these situations, you may have grounds to file a wage and hour claim in court to pursue compensation for earned vacation time. Contact our knowledgeable California employment law attorney at Davtyan Law Firm today to discuss the possibility of filing a lawsuit against your employer to secure vacation pay.

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