San Diego Vacation and PTO Lawyer

Has your employer violated your right to be paid for the vacation leave and PTO you have earned? Ferraro Vega represents all types of employment disputes. Contact a San Diego vacation & PTO lawyer to discuss your case at (619) 693-7727.

Does your employer have a paid leave policy that violates California labor law such as a use-it-or-lose-it policy? You may be entitled to compensation for these unpaid wages plus penalties. Let us help you recover the compensation you are owed. 

How Our San Diego Employment Attorneys Can Help with Your Vacation and PTO Dispute

Time Sheet

When your employer fails to pay you for the wages and paid time off you have earned, they should be held accountable. However, seeking the unpaid wages you deserve can be difficult as it involves complex employment law and several legal remedies for seeking damages and penalties.

At Ferraro Vega San Diego Employment Lawyers, we are committed to holding California employers accountable for their unfair and illegal labor practices. Our San Diego employment lawyer focus entirely on employment litigation with years of expertise.

We will help you explore your best legal options and seek the full compensation you deserve under California law.

When you choose Ferraro Vega San Diego Employment Lawyers to represent you, you can count on us to:

  • Determine if you have been misclassified
  • Investigate which labor laws your employer violated and whether other employees were affected
  • Help you understand the legal remedies available to you including a wage claim, a lawsuit, a class action, and a PAGA claim
  • Gather evidence to prove the wages you are owed
  • Negotiate with your employer to seek a fair settlement
  • File a lawsuit if necessary to fight for the wages you deserve
  • Protect you against employer retaliation 

Ferraro Vega San Diego Employment Lawyers proudly represents workers in all industries in San Diego, California. Call our law office today to request a free consultation with a passionate San Diego vacation & PTO lawyer who can help you.  

Am I Entitled to Vacation and Paid Time Off in San Diego?

There is no law requiring California employers to provide paid vacation or paid time off to employees. However, when this benefit is offered, employers must follow many rules. California employment law protects employees from discriminatory and unfair labor practices and paid time off is considered earned income.

Once earned, vacation and PTO cannot be taken away. Earned and accrued paid time off becomes earned wages and employers can be held liable for violating California employment law regarding this benefit.

What Restrictions Can California Employers Can Place on Vacation and PTO?

Paid Time Off

Vacation time and paid time off are considered earned wages in California. While an employer must pay for accrued leave upon separation or termination and cannot have a policy that allows accrued time to expire, employers can place many restrictions on their vacation leave policy.

Your employer may implement the following types of restrictions:

  • A waiting period before vacation time begins to accrue, such as 90 days or one year
  • Different vacation policies for certain groups of employees such as full-time or manager positions as long as the policy does not discriminate
  • Vacation and PTO cannot expire under a “use it or lose it” policy. This is considered illegal withholding of earned wages
  • An employer can decide how and when employees can schedule paid time off as long as it is not discriminatory
  • A cap can be placed on vacation and PTO accrual. There isn’t a set cap that is allowed, the vacation cap cannot be less than 1.75x the annual accrual rate. With this cap, an employee who earns ten paid vacation days per year would no longer accrual more vacation time after reaching 17.5 days.
  • Employers can require employees to use vacation time when time is taken off work for a personal reason. An employer can also require employees to use vacation time for sick days if the employee has run out of sick leave. This even applies if the employee is taking leave under Paid Family Leave or the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). 

Employers in California have a great deal of freedom in scheduling vacation and PTO. They may set a policy requiring, for example, three weeks’ notice before an employee takes paid vacation time. They can also set up blackout periods in which no employee can use vacation time.

Earned and unused vacation time and PTO cannot be taken away from an employee under California Labor Code 227.3, even when an employee is terminated for cause.

Note that sick leave is not subject to the same laws as PTO and vacation. California employers must provide a minimum amount of paid sick days per year, but vacation and PTO are not required.

Am I Entitled to Unused Vacation Time After Termination?

Affected Employe

Because paid time off is considered earned income, accrued and unused vacation and PTO must be paid out when an employee is terminated or separates from the company. It must be paid at the same time as the employee’s final wages.

When an employee is fired, the final wages must be paid at the time of termination.

When an employee quits with less than 72 hours’ notice, final pay is due within 72 hours. With notice, final pay is due when the employee quits. 

Note that paid sick leave is not required to be paid out when an employee separates from the company. However, this is only true if paid sick days are included in a separate sick leave policy. If sick leave is part of a general paid time off policy, it must be paid out when the employee separates.

If a California employer offers paid personal days or “floating holidays,” they may or may not need to be paid out at termination. These holidays do not need to be paid out when tied to a specific event or holiday such as paid Christmas days. Otherwise, when holidays and personal days can be taken at any time, they are considered vacation and must be paid out.

Can I Sue My Southern California Employer for Unpaid Vacation Time and PTO?

When vacation time or PTO is offered, it’s considered earned wages under California labor law. This means failing to reimburse you for your unused paid time off is just like failing to pay you for the hours you worked. Employees in San Diego have the right to sue their employer or file a claim for unpaid wages of PTO.

There are many circumstances in which you may have a legal claim against your employer involving PTO and vacation time:

  • Your employer took away your earned vacation time
  • Your employer refused to pay for unused vacation time after separating from the company
  • The employer’s policy regarding vacation and PTO violates California labor law such as vacation time that expires
  • Your employer retaliates against you for exercising your legal rights such as reporting labor code violations

Employers can be held responsible to not only reimburse employees for unpaid PTO; they can also be required to pay wait time penalties if they do not pay out vacation time with the final paycheck. This penalty is the worker’s average daily wage up to 30 days. This penalty can be recovered by filing a lawsuit against the employer or a wage claim with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE).

In addition to waiting time penalties, you may recover payment of the unpaid wages you are owed, interest, and attorney’s fees, in some cases.

If other employees have been affected by an employer’s illegal practices involving vacation leave and PTO, you may bring a PAGA claim against your employer. The Private Attorneys General Act allows aggrieved employees to recover civil penalties on behalf of themselves, other employees, and California for violations of the California Labor Code ($50 per employee per pay period for a first violation, $100 per employee per pay period for subsequent violations). 

A class action lawsuit against your employer may also be an option if other employees were affected by similar vacation pay violations.

Contact a San Diego Vacation and PTO Lawyer for a Free Consultation

Vacation time is earned and you are entitled to be paid for it when you leave your employer. If your employer has violated California law by refusing vacation pay, or they have a policy violating wage and hour law, Ferraro Vega San Diego Employment Lawyers is here to help you.

Contact our law firm to schedule a free case review with a San Diego vacation and PTO lawyer to discuss your case. You pay nothing out of pocket to get the legal representation you deserve.