What Happens to My Unused Vacation Days?

The surplus of unused vacation days continues to pile up, according to a Linkedin poll , as 70% of Americans do not plan to take extended vacations before the end of the year. But what if you don’t use them?

How weekends work

There is no federal law that obliges employers to offer paid vacation, sick time, or holidays, although state and municipal governments sometimes have regulations (discussed below). It is worth noting that some companies combine sick leave and vacation pay as “paid holiday” or “paid vacation”. In the absence of any federal oversight, companies typically offer an average of eleven days of hiring in line with industry standards and labor market expectations. Under federal law, employers also have the right to offer vacation pay to certain employees over others, as long as it does not constitute illegal discrimination , as is the case for full-time or part-time workers.

Use it or lose it

Most states have a use-or-lose policy whereby employees lose unused vacation days at the end of the year. Most states do allow this, although some have restrictions (such as written hiring policies) or are completely prohibited.

Restrictions on accrual and payments on vacation days

Some employers allow employees to move a certain number of hours or days into a new calendar or fiscal year, but this is at the discretion of the company. Bank holidays are a nice benefit, but they also accumulate at the end of the year, which is why many companies put a limit on the number of days you can move. This practice is illegal in 24 states (and the District of Columbia), where PTO is considered payroll, which means that annual weekend dumping is treated as payroll theft. Additionally, some states have rules to ensure that you get paid for the unused days when you leave the company.

While state regulations vary, you may be eligible for leave or pay if you recently quit your job. Use this list by state to understand your rights as an employee and to ensure that your company policies comply with local labor laws.

Tips for managing vacation days

  • Try using them. It’s better for your productivity and your health .
  • Book your vacation early in the year, even if you don’t have plans (you can always do them later). Employers have the right to set rules restricting vacation reservations during busy seasons such as holidays and may require prior notice to reserve vacations.
  • To make sure your weekends are approved, schedule some weekends outside of peak periods, such as holidays.

If you believe your company policy is a violation of labor standards, contact your local government agency .

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