The Mailbag.

Author:Delogu, Nancy
Position:Letter to the editor

When employees depart, must we pay them for their unused vacation time?

Q Is an employer required to pay an employee who leaves employment of their own free will the vacation time they have accrued during the year prior to their leaving?--M., Oklahoma

  1. This will depend on the state in which the individual lives and whether state law expressly addresses whether unused accrued vacation is payable at termination.

    If the law does not so specify, then the question of whether it is due and owing will often turn on any contract or promise you may have made the employee. Increasingly, it seems, states treat a promise of paid time off as accrued wages that are due no later than after termination of employment.

    That means it is important to know what your local law is, regardless of what your policy may say. (See link to state laws below.)

    In Oklahoma, for example, "wages" includes holiday and vacation pay and any similar advantages agreed upon between the employer and the employee, which are "earned and due," or provided by the employer as part of an "established policy." Accrued vacation pay is "earned and due."

    However, if the employer and employee have agreed upon payment at termination pursuant to express language in a written employment contract or policy manual that provides for the payment of cash in lieu of time-off, accrued vacation must be paid out upon termination.

    Online resources Find out if your state has a law on paying workers for unused vacation time at

    Can we require an employee to use her FMLA leave in specific increments?

    Q An exempt employee who is expected to work a regular eight-hour workday provided medical documentation supporting a request for a six-hour day to reduce his workload. Is it possible to require him to take the leave in half-day increments? --Rachel, Washington, D.C.

  2. Maybe, but I suspect you will not be able to insist upon it. First, if the employee is entitled to FMLA leave, then the employee cannot be...

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