Can I use earned vacation time at the end of my employment instead of a lump sum payment?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can I use earned vacation time at the end of my employment instead of a lump sum payment?

I am separating from my current position and have asked to take my vacation time over the course of the next 6 weeks in order to extend my health insurance benefits. I will be working at the new employer during this time, but ineligible for health coverage. My current employer doesn’t want to allow this and is insisting on providing me a lump-sum payment of earned vacation time. Please advise.

Asked on June 11, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

There is no legal right to use your vacation time at the end of your employment to extend your employed time or eligibility for health insurance. Employers have the right to approve--or as the case may be, not approve--the use of vacation time and could refuse to allow you to do this. They don't need to give you a reason or justify their decision, though it is reasonable one: why should they allow you to be on their health insurance plan--and presumably, pay money to have you on their plan (since generally the employer pays at least a part of workplace health or medical insurance)--when you are no longer working for them and in fact are working for someone else? If they pay *any* part of the health insurance premium, what you are really asking is for them to subsidize 6 weeks of your employment by someone else, and to pay you the cost of their share of the insurance in addition to the value of your vacation days. It is reasonable for them to not want to do that.
Look into whether you can use COBRA (at your cost) to extend your health insurance until your new employer's plan kicks in.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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