Vacation time payout

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Vacation time payout

Was fired for theft, no charges pressed. Can the employer refuse to pay out
earned vacation time? Even if their employee handbook states ‘When
employment ends for any reason, vacation time earned but not taken by the
employee will be included in the employee’s final paycheck.’

Asked on February 15, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Kentucky


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If there are no limitations or restrictions or caveats (see below) on the handbook language you cite, they should pay out the vacation days: the quoted language appears to establish a policy and therefore an agreement (between you and the employer, pursuant to which you worked, since you worked in knowledge of and based on what the handbook says) of paying out unused vacation when employment ends regardless of why it ends.
But many handbooks do contain limitations within them on their power to form enforceable agreements or policies. If the handbook contains anything like the following, it does not in fact create any enforceable rights:
"Nothing in this handbook creates a contract of employment"
"Policies are subject to change at will"
"Anything to the contrary in this handbook notwithstanding, all employment is employment at will"

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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