In California, employers are not required to pay for vacations or provide paid time off (PTO) (except for sick leave).
However, if you’re a California employee, and your employer does provide vacation benefits or PTO, then your employer is legally obligated to give you all the vacation pay and PTO that you have earned if you leave your job.
When Is a California Employer Obligated to Provide Vacation Pay?
If your employer has an established agreement or policy or practice to provide vacation pay, then California law places certain obligations on the employer. Vacation pay is treated like wages and is earned over time.
If you leave your job after six months without having taken a vacation, you will have accumulated half a year’s worth of vacation time. In this example, where you get two weeks of vacation per year, you’ll have earned five days of wages for the unused time. California law requires that your employer pay you what it owes you for vacation time when you leave your job, so your employer will owe you five days of pay.
Will I Still Get My Vacation Pay If I Was Fired?
Yes. You are entitled to your unused vacation pay if you leave your job because you were fired, quit, were laid off, had an employment contract that expired, or for any other reason. If you die on the job, your estate is entitled to your unused vacation pay.
Can My Employer Require That I Use All My Vacation Time Every Year or I Will Lose It?
No, that’s not legal in California. Vacation pay is treated as a form of wage and cannot be forfeited.
You Have the Same Rights to Paid Time Off (PTO) As You Do to Vacation Pay
Some employers combine vacation pay and sick leave into a single paid time off (PTO) plan that provides a certain number of days employees can take off for any reason. California laws are the same for paid time off as they are for vacation pay. The paid time off is treated as wages that you earn over time, and you are entitled to receive all your unused paid time off when you leave your job.
Which Wages Are Used to Calculate the Value of My Unused Vacation Time and PTO?
When you leave your job, you will be paid for your unused vacation and PTO based on your final rate of pay.
When Will I Get Paid for My Unused Vacation and PTO?
California law requires that the pay be included in your final paycheck.
Help Is Available for California Employees
If you believe that your employer did not pay you for all the vacation pay and PTO that you earned when you left your job, contact the employment attorneys in Los Angeles for a free consultation.