Marc A. Mandelman, Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s New York office, was quoted in The Washington Post, in “Unlimited Vacation Sounds Amazing. It Can Burn Workers in the End.” by Jena McGregor.

Following is an excerpt:

If you’re laid off from your job or quit to go elsewhere, does your employer owe you the vacation time you’ve accrued?

As with so many things related to employment law, the answer, unfortunately, is “it depends.” And if your employer has an “unlimited” vacation policy, they may owe you nothing at all. …

Marc Mandelman, an employment lawyer at Epstein Becker & Green in New York, counts just eight states that have statutes requiring employers to pay out unused but earned vacation time, including Illinois and Massachusetts, but says most of his clients do it in practice. Industries in which companies compete heavily for talent, such as financial services or technology, are more likely to offer it -- even where it’s not required -- than those that have more low-skilled, low-wage jobs, such as retail.

“Even companies of relatively modest size that are looking to attract and retain qualified workers” do this, he said. “These types of paid leave benefits are a huge factor in recruitment.” …

Yet as more employers have begun offering “unlimited” paid time off policies in which the company suggests workers can take the time they need, rather than be allotted a certain number of days, employees could also lose out. The perk can mean more flexibility and generous vacation time in some cases. But by not defining the number of days employees get off, employers also aren’t on the hook for paying out a certain number of hours when an employee leaves. Nor must they carry over allotted vacation time on their books from one year to the next, which would set up an accounting liability in those states where doing so is legally required.

The rise of state and municipal paid sick-leave policies have also played a part in the increased use of such “nonaccrual" approaches to paid time off, said Mandelman, or as he calls them, “no-cation” policies. For years, he explains, companies have moved toward giving people a bank of paid time off days rather than separate buckets of vacation, personal and sick days. But as states and cities have increasingly passed paid sick-leave mandates, employers have had to expand those PTO banks, swelling the liability employers must carry in certain states.

“It’s much larger amounts of time that employers are entitled to pay out,” he said. “That’s a workaround for these jurisdictions” where employees can carry over accrued time or where employers must pay out what’s unused.

Jump to Page

Privacy Preference Center

When you visit any website, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. This information might be about you, your preferences or your device and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to. The information does not usually directly identify you, but it can give you a more personalized web experience. Because we respect your right to privacy, you can choose not to allow some types of cookies. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings. However, blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer.

Strictly Necessary Cookies

These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems. They are usually only set in response to actions made by you which amount to a request for services, such as setting your privacy preferences, logging in or filling in forms. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not then work. These cookies do not store any personally identifiable information.

Performance Cookies

These cookies allow us to count visits and traffic sources so we can measure and improve the performance of our site. They help us to know which pages are the most and least popular and see how visitors move around the site. All information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous. If you do not allow these cookies we will not know when you have visited our site, and will not be able to monitor its performance.