Are employers required to pay for your vacation days you haven't taken in the U.S.? I was told I can't get money from the vacations I haven't taken at the end of the year and only 5 days can be transferred to next year. Is this a legal practice?
As expalined in the California Employment Law Report the law provides -
No use-it-or-lose-it policies permitted. Under California law, vacation is treated the same as earned wages and vest as the employee performs work. Because vacation is earned proportionally as the employee works, any type of policy requiring employees to lose vacation that has already been earned is illegal under California law.
Reasonable caps are allowed. While employers cannot implement “use-it-or-lose-it” policies, they can place a reasonable cap, or ceiling, on vacation accrual.
Also, when you leave the company the days accrued must be paid. I did not find any requirement to allow employees to demand a trade of days-for-cash at other times.
So, I think your situation would be very standard in CA.