How many weeks vacation is my employer on the hook for?

I am a twenty-three employee who has 5 weeks vacation and given my full two weeks notice. To date, I have used two weeks and would still be owed three. My question is in regards to next year. I have been told that you earn your vacation time in the prior year, if so, does my employer owe me for five more weeks vacation next year?

2 answers  |  asked Jul 28, 2011 08:31 AM [EST]  |  applies to Pennsylvania

Answers (2)

Christopher Ezold
Before I respond to your inquiry, I must state that we have not spoken, I have not reviewed the relevant documents and facts, and I do not represent you. Therefore, my discussion below is not a legal opinion, but is informational only. Finally, my discussion applies only to issues to which Pennsylvania or Federal law apply, unless otherwise specified.

That being said, there is no right to vacation pay under Pennsylvania law. Instead, vacation rights are generally governed by either your employment contract (if you have one) or the employer's policy. I have never seen an employer policy that would allow payment of next years' vacation to an employee that leaves employment this year. It is within the realm of possibility, however - just very highly unlikely. I would have to see the policy itself, or the contract language if contained in your employment contract, to have a better idea of your rights.

If, however, your rights have already been earned (sometimes called 'vesting'), then they cannot be taken away by your employer. Again, vesting is generally controlled by the employer's policy or your employment contract.

If a policy is vague, a court may very well construe it against the employer and in your favor. Vesting of next year's vacation rights before the end of this year, however, is so unusual that a court is not likely to enforce that kind of right unless it is specifically set forth in a policy or contract.

If you would like to discuss this matter further, please feel free to contact me at the below address(es) or number.

/Christopher E. Ezold/
The Ezold Law Firm, P.C.
One Belmont Avenue,
Suite 501
Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004
(610) 660-5585

posted by Christopher Ezold  |  Aug 1, 2011 04:44 AM [EST]
Scott Leah
Under Pennsylania law, you are not entitled to be paid for any unused vacation time. It is solely a matter between you and your employer.

If you have an employment contract or employment agreement that provides for the payment of accrued, but unused, vacation time upon termination, then you may have the right to get paid for that vacaton time.

Similarly, if the employer has a policy of paying such vacation time upon termination (such as in an employee handbook or a past course of practice), you may also have the right to get paid for that vacation time.

Absent the above, Pennsylvania law does not create a right to be paid for accrued vacation time upon termination.

However, if you are entitled to be paid for accrued but unused vacation time (such as under an employment policy or contract), then you can bring an action under Pennsylvania's Wage Payment and Collection Law to recover it if the employer does not pay it to you. That law also provides that the employer has to pay your attorney fees.

posted by Scott Leah  |  Jul 28, 2011 09:54 AM [EST]

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