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?

  • 4
    This very, very likely depends on state laws. Which state are you asking about?
    – grovkin
    Jul 4, 2021 at 20:26
  • Further to @grovkin's comment, it's standard practice in my experience, which it wouldn't be if it were illegal. The details may vary by jurisdiction, of course.
    – phoog
    Jul 4, 2021 at 20:35
  • @phoog it's conceivable that a state law would allow this to be a part of an employment agreement, but not allow it if it has not been stipulated ahead of time. It's also conceivable that a state law would not allow this to be a part of an employment agreement.
    – grovkin
    Jul 4, 2021 at 20:38
  • The situation you describe would be common in CA. Take it or lose it is designed to promote actually taking vacations. Take it or lose it is not legal in CA but a cap on accrued vacation days is allowed Jul 4, 2021 at 21:51

1 Answer 1


In California

As expalined in the California Employment Law Report the law provides -

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

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