Request A Free Consultation
Sunset on a pier in Orange County

Are You Entitled to Paid Vacation Days?

May 26, 2023 Legal Team

There is no specific requirement for employers to provide paid vacation days to their employees under California or federal law. However, if an employer offers paid vacation benefits, certain regulations govern how these benefits are accrued and used. Therefore, reviewing your employment contract, employee handbook, or company policy is crucial to determine your entitlement to paid vacation days.

Accrual of Vacation Time

For companies that provide paid vacation days, the amount of vacation time an employee can accrue varies based on their length of service. The state’s labor laws generally distinguish between two categories: “accrual” and “unlimited” vacation policies.

Accrual Policies

Accrual policies are the most common type in California. According to state law, employers who offer this policy must grant employees a specific amount of vacation time based on the length of their employment. Typically, this is expressed as a specific number of hours or days earned per pay period or year. The rate at which vacation time accrues may also increase with an employee’s tenure.

Unlimited Policies

Some employers offer unlimited vacation policies, wherein there is no specified limit on how much vacation time employees can take. However, employers must follow certain guidelines to ensure employees can take adequate time off without undue restrictions.

Payment for Accrued Vacation Time

When an employee leaves a company, whether, through resignation or termination, they may be entitled to payment for any unused vacation time that has been accrued unless their employer has a truly unlimited policy. California law treats accrued vacation time as wages. Therefore, employers are required to pay out any accrued and unused vacation days at the employee’s current rate of pay upon termination.

Protection Against Discrimination and Retaliation

Employers are prohibited from discriminating or retaliating against employees who exercise their right to take vacation days, including demotion, termination, or any other adverse action. If you find yourself facing employer discrimination, retaliation, or your employer is not following state laws on paid vacations, here are some steps to consider:

Review Company Policies

Carefully review your employment contract, company handbook, or any other relevant documents that outline the policies and procedures related to taking paid time off. Ensure you have followed the proper protocol and provided the necessary notice and documentation for your vacation.

Document Incidents

Keep a detailed record of any incidents or actions that suggest retaliation or discrimination by your employer. This includes dates, times, individuals involved, and descriptions of what happened. It is crucial to have concrete evidence to support your case.

Communicate With Your Employer

Discuss the issue with your immediate supervisor, HR department, or another appropriate authority within your organization. Share your concerns and provide any evidence or documentation you have gathered. It is possible that the issue is a misunderstanding or can be resolved through open communication.

Consult an Attorney

If the situation is not resolved or escalates despite your efforts to resolve the issue internally, speak to an Orange County employment law attorney. They can provide legal advice specific to your situation and help you understand your rights and potential courses of action.

File a Complaint

If all other attempts at resolution fail, you may choose to file a complaint with the appropriate government agency, such as the California Labor Commissioner’s Office or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). These agencies investigate complaints of workplace retaliation and can take legal action on your behalf if necessary.