Labor and Employment

Must Employers Provide Holiday, Sick and Vacation Pay?

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Couple taking pictures on vacation

Although many employers offer paid holidays, sick days, and vacation time as part of their benefits packages, they aren't required to do so by federal law. The Fair Labor Standards Act only requires employers to pay employees for the time they work, not for time off.

Paid Holidays Are Not Required

Many employers offer a certain number of paid holidays per year as part of their benefits packages. If you work on a state or federal holiday, your employer must pay you for those hours. There is no federal requirement, though, for employers to pay you when you do not work on a holiday.

Employees Are Not Entitled to Paid Sick Leave

Many employers offer a specific number of paid sick leave hours per year to their workers. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require any employer to offer paid sick leave.

However, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires some employers to allow up to 12 weeks of unpaid sick leave for the birth or adoption of a child, or the serious illness of the employee or a family member. The law applies to employers with 50 or more workers within a 75-mile radius and to employees who have been on the job for at least 12 months.

Vacation Time Is Optional

Although there is no legal requirement to do so, paid vacation time is a benefit that most employers offer voluntarily. An employer who offers vacation time may set limitations regarding how much time you can take off and how much notice you must give. The only restriction is that all similar employees must be treated the same.

For example, the employer may give paid vacation days to all full-time employees without offering the same benefit to part-time or temporary workers. The employer cannot, however, give paid vacation days to some full-time workers but not to others.

Some States Require Employers to Pay for Unused Vacation Time

Although no federal law requires your employer to pay you for unused vacation time when you leave, nearly half of the states require that they do so. If you live in a state that requires the employer to include unused vacation pay in your final paycheck, you can file a complaint with the state employment office if your employer does not comply with the state law.

An Employment Lawyer Can Help

The law surrounding employee "time off" benefits can be complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact an employ benefits lawyer.

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