Additional Information: I’m coming up on my 5 year anniversary with a Worcester MA company. I will be giving my 2 weeks notice around the time of my 5 year anniversary. At the 5 year point we bump up to 4 weeks of vacation. Would I still be able to collect the pay out for the unused vacation time if my notice is in but my last day falls after the anniversary date?
Under Massachusetts law, vacation time that is accrued but not used at the time an employee leaves the job must be paid out as wages. The trick is figuring out what’s accrued and what’s not, a matter that generally is governed by an employer’s internal policies.
The key statute in this area is the state’s Wage Act, which requires employers to pay workers all money they earn within narrow time frames. Violations of the Act can bring heavy penalties that include the potential for criminal sanctions. More commonly, the failure to pay wages as required by the law results in a civil suit by a disgruntled former employee. The Wage Act provides that successful plaintiffs in cases like these be awarded triple the amount improperly withheld from them plust reimbursement for all legal fees they expend. When a company grants vacation time — a matter solely within the discretion of the employer — it must honor its policies and, when a worker leaves for any reason, pay out as wages the accrued but unused time showing on its books. This rule prevails because vacation time is, under these particular circumstances, considered wages under the law.
The question in your case seems to focus on your employer’s policy. Though a lawyer might tell you that the relevant point of reference is the day you leave work and not the day you give notice, this answer does not by itself mean you are entitled to four weeks vacation pay after you leave. Instead, you’ll need to review the company policy and determine when vacation accrues. If the full four weeks becomes yours to use on your anniversary date, and if you continue to work through that date, you may be entitled to the payout.
Attorney Jack Merrill is a Worcester, MA employment lawyer providing legal services to employees, employers and businesses throughout the Boston metro west and Worcester County region including Ashland, Dedham, Framingham, Franklin, Hopkinton, Maynard, Marlborough, Milford, Natick, Needham, Newton, Shrewsbury, Sudbury, Waltham, and Worcester, Massachusetts.