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Massachusetts Private Employees are Not Entitled to Paid Vacation Time, But If It Is A Benefit Offered By An Employer, Accrued Unused Time Must Be Paid Out Upon SeparationEmployment Attorneys
Posted in on May 13, 2017
Although Massachusetts private employers are not required to grant vacation time to their employees, many do as benefit to employment. When an employer decides to offer paid vacation time they must be aware that the vacation time accrued or earned under an oral or written agreement with the employee is treated the same as an earned wage under the Massachusetts Wage Act. Therefore, when an employee separates from his/her employer, the employer must determine how many vacation days are accrued, and unused, and the employer must include the accrued, unused vacation pay in the final payment of wages to the employee. When an employee is involuntarily discharged, this means that accrued, unused vacation time must be paid out, along with any other accrued wage, at the time of termination.
Although an employer cannot enter into a special contract with an employee that would have the effect of exempting the employer from having to pay out the accrued, unused vacation time to an employee, the employer may limit its exposure to pay out unused vacation time by implementing a “use it or lose it” policy that requires employees to use all of their accumulated vacation time by a certain date or forfeit all or part of it or by capping the amount of vacation time an employee may accrue or earn. If the employer decides to implement one of these policies to limit its exposure to payout vacation, these policies must be in writing.
Baker, Braverman & Barbadoro, P.C. recommends that employers have a yearly review of its employee handbook to make sure that company policies are compliant with the ever changing laws governing employee earned time. Additionally we suggest that prior to terminating an employee, if there are any question or hesitation as to what is owed to the employee, that you consult an employment attorney to avoid violating the Massachusetts Wage Act, as such violations can result in treble damages. – Susan M. Molinari.