Under my State's (Colorado) law, C.R.S. § 8-4-101(14)(a)(III) states,

Vacation pay earned in accordance with the terms of any agreement. If an employer provides paid vacation for an employee, the employer shall pay upon separation from employment all vacation pay earned and determinable in accordance with the terms of any agreement between the employer and the employee.

However, the employee handbook states that the company will not pay earned vacation time at separation, regardless of separation type. Additionally, I was not made aware of this policy and signed my contract/letter of intent before I was provided the employee handbook and would have attempted to negotiate this prior to signing the contract.

Do I have a right to the unpaid, earned vacation according to state law, or does the employee handbook supersede state law?

  • Are you a government employee, and if so of local, state, or federal employ? Also, what does "precedent" have to do with you question?
    – sharur
    Oct 16, 2018 at 0:25
  • I guess I was wondering if there was precedent that had been set, but I never asked that so I suppose it's an inappropriate tag.
    – swasheck
    Oct 16, 2018 at 0:47

1 Answer 1


Law (regardless of its type) supersedes contract, provided it has jurisdiction over the persons bound by that contract.

Contract provisions that are counter to law are generally held to be void.

State law has authority over an employer's policies or hand book.

However, there may be exceptions in state law (so I would double check). A frequent exception (at least in California law, which I am most familiar with) is for very small businesses. Another exception, from C.R.S. § 8-4-101(5), is if you are considered a "contractor" rather than an employee, per the government's determination.

It is possibly worth your time to let you employer know of this conflict before termination if possible, so that they can adjust their policies, rather than in an adversarial position after termination, if only to avoid the headache.

  • Thank you. Now I have to figure out what the threshold for "very small business" is.
    – swasheck
    Oct 16, 2018 at 0:48
  • @swasheck having an employee handbook would probably indicate that the business is not very small.
    – Greendrake
    Oct 16, 2018 at 3:27
  • 1
    @swasheck: the legal term for your searching would be "small business". In California, I think the limit is something like 15-25 employees, though it can vary from statute to statue and among different types of responsibilities. There is no exception in C.R.S. § 8-4-101, which is a good sign.
    – sharur
    Oct 16, 2018 at 7:31

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