Am I entitled to accrued vacation pay upon termination?

UPDATED: Jan 3, 2011

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Am I entitled to accrued vacation pay upon termination?

I have 3 weeks of vacation accrued. My employer is refusing to pay the vacation pay upon termination. Am I entitled to vacation pay? In MA.

Asked on January 3, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

The  key is whether your vacation pay was merely "accrued" or "accrued and earned". MA law requires that employers pay workers for all wages earned upon termination because earned vacation time is considered to be earned wages. That having been said however, vacation time that is accrued but not yet earned, is not owed to an employee.  And the fact is that some companies allow employees to “accrue” vacation before they have “earned” vacation.

By way of example:  An employee has accrued 5. 7 hours of vacation time in 80 days but company policy does not entitle an employee to use that vacation time until they have been employed for 90 days.  If the employee left the company's on day 81, they would not be entitled to any vacation time.  The reason - the vacation time while “accrued” was not “earned.”  However, if the employee left on day 91 then they would be entitled to the accrued vacation time since - it was both “accrued” and “earned.”  Therefore if you were entitled to take 2 weeks vacation on the day that you were terminated, then yes, you should be paid for that vacation time.  Otherwise, employees need not be paid for vacation time that they would not be entitled to use if they were still employed.

Note:  If you signed an employment contract/union agreement to the contrary that would control. 

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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