Not Being Paid for Accrued Vacation

Accrued vacation wages are wages that are paid in lieu of time you didn’t take off for vacation when you were employed. Not all employers offer accrued vacation pay, but many do.

Basically, it means that if you wanted to take your annual vacation, you would get paid for it. If you didn’t take the vacation, this would be held over for you to take later on or be paid out in wages.

If your employment is terminated, you should be entitled to take the accrued vacation wages, as long as this was written into your employment contract.

Unfortunately, some employers take advantage of a terminated worker and may not pay the correct wages owed, including accrued wages.

In 24 U.S. states, including the District of Columbia, you are entitled to challenge your employer if you haven’t been paid accrued vacation wages. There is no guarantee that your employer will honor this unless it is written into the contract.

Steps to take

Before you leave your job, it is worth checking your employment contract carefully to see what you should be owed. In addition to your last fortnight’s wages, you may be entitled to unused sick pay and accrued vacation wages.

Most employers are expected to pay the final paycheck within a month, although the exact final date depends on the state you work in.

Check your final pay check carefully to see whether you have been paid what you expected. If you haven’t been paid accrued vacation wages that you thought you were due, you should first contact the HR department at your place of employment.

In many cases, an employer may not have avoided paying deliberately but has made an accounting error, which they should correct.

If you do not get a satisfactory response, you should double check your employment contract and previous paychecks to make sure you are entitled to accrued vacation time wages.

If you work in any of these states, you have the right to take legal action against your employer for refusing to pay promised accrued wages:

Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, D.C., Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island (after one year of employment), Tennessee, West Virginia, Wyoming.

Evidence You Need

The most important evidence you will need is an extract from your employment contract or equivalent that sets out company policy on vacation pay. As long as you can find the relevant clause which states that accrued vacation time will be paid on termination, you have good grounds for legal action.

The next step will be to make sure your calculations of vacation days you didn’t take are correct. You will need to go back over your period of employment and make a note of all vacation time you did take.

Then you need evidence to show what vacation days you were given during the time you were employed. This should show by deduction what vacation days you didn’t take and were therefore accrued.

You will need past paychecks to show when you were at work and what you were paid while at work to calculate accrued vacation time wages that you are still owed.

Talk to an Employment Law Attorney

You are strongly advised to talk to an employment law attorney about your unpaid accrued vacation wages before initiating legal action against your former employer.

The attorney will know whether the labor laws in the state you work in allow you to challenge your employer or whether this is dependent solely on the clause in your employment contract guaranteeing accrued vacation time being paid out at termination of employment. The attorney will then advise you on your legal options.

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