Does my employer have to pay me my unused vacation time when I quit or I'm fired?
The answer is: Yes. Under the Massachusetts Wage Act, employees are entitled to receive their earned and accrued vacation time whether they voluntarily quit or they're fired. The timing of when your vacation pay is due just depends on how you leave your employment.
The common failure to pay unused vacation time fact patterns that we see go something like this:
You get fired from your job with no notice.
Here, you go in to work one day and get fired by your boss on the spot. You've accumulated three weeks of earned vacation time that you haven't used. Your boss tells you to leave the premises immediately but refuses to pay you the three weeks of time. Under Massachusetts law, you are owed three weeks of vacation pay and it must be paid the day you're fired. When you're fired, your employer literally has to hand you a check for all your pay earned to that day, including your vacation time, or else they violate the Wage Act.
You quit or resign.
In this scenario, you voluntarily quit your job and give two weeks' notice. In the meantime, you've accrued three weeks of earned vacation time. Under the Wage Act, you're entitled to be paid that three weeks of unused vacation time, and it must be included in your final paycheck when you normally receive your pay. So, if you're paid weekly, then your employer must include your unused vacation time in your last paycheck. If they don't pay you the accrued vacation time, they are violating Massachusetts law.
What happens when an employer fails or refuses to pay unused vacation time?
The Massachusetts Wage Act is very strict when your employer wrongfully refuses to pay your unused vacation time whether you quit, or you're fired. When an employer violates the Wage Act by withholding your accrued vacation pay, they owe you three times the amount of your unpaid vacation time. This is true even if they pay you your vacation time weeks after you've left because they haven't paid it on time according to the law.
What can you do to protect your unpaid vacation time?
If your employer has wrongfully withheld your unused vacation time, you have a right to bring a lawsuit against your former employer and, if successful, you are entitled to three times your unpaid vacation time. Hiring a Massachusetts wage lawyer is the best way to assert your wage rights.
If you've been fired or quit your job in Massachusetts and your employer is refusing to pay your accrued vacation time or hasn't paid it in a timely fashion according to the law, our firm may be able to help. If you'd like to discuss your situation, Contact Us, and the consultation will be completely confidential.