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employees vacation time

The Truth About Use It or Lose It PTO Policies in San Diego

Posted on April 17, 2018 in Employment Law

Employment law in San Diego can be a bit of a minefield due to size, legislation, and general attitude towards employee rights. While it’s not mandatory to know the employment laws associated with your county or state, having a solid understanding of the main principles can go a long way.

Although it may never happen to you, there is probably somebody that you know – or multiple people – who have found themselves in the unfortunate position of losing their accrued vacation days because they were not familiar with the state laws. It’s not uncommon for San Diego employers to strip vacation time and pass it off as legal, when it’s really not. In this post we will explore “Use it or lose it” policies in San Diego.

What Is A “Use It Or Lose It” Policy In San Diego?

In general, a “use it or lose it policy” means just that, if you don’t use your vacations days, usually within a set time frame, then you will lose them. Your employer can put in place a pre-determined date by which if you have not taken your accrued vacation days they will be lost to you. This means you will not only lose the time, but you will not receive any payment for this unused time off.

It is worth remembering that in the state of California and the county of San Diego, employers are not in fact required to provide any type of vacation benefits to their employees. This includes those benefits that are both paid and unpaid. If your employer is going to create a policy or define an agreement for you as an employee, you should familiarize yourself with what it entails.

Frequently Asked Questions About San Diego “Use It Or Lose It”?

Given the complexity of employment law in San Diego and “use it or lose it” policies, we’ve outline frequently asked questions to help guide you:

Is my employer allowed to state that no vacation time is earned during the first six months of employment?

Yes, this is legal. This type of policy allows for your employer to state a pre-determined period of time at the beginning of a contract of employment during which vacation benefits are not earned. This can be a probationary or introductory period; it can even apply to the first year of employment.

What happens to my accrued vacation time if I choose to leave my employment or my employer terminates my contract?

In California, it is illegal for vacation policies to deny any pay for these unused days. Any accrued and earned days should be paid at the final rate of pay. They should also be provided to you at the time of your last paycheck.

I only work part-time – is it legal for my employer to exclude me from the company vacation plan?

It is legal. A company’s vacation plan may exclude some employees; those who work part-time, temporary or casual workers, and those who are in their probationary period. The vacation plan should clearly state which classifications of employees are excluded from the policy.

Can my employer place a cap on the number of accrued hours of vacation I can have?

Yes, your employer can do this. Placing a cap on vacation pay accruals is acceptable, unlike “use it or lose it” policies. Where a “use it or lose it” policy can result in the loss of vacation days, a cap only limits the number of vacation days that an employee can accrue. These timescales for taking the accrued vacation days must, however, be reasonable in order for the employee to take the days and then begin accruing them again.

Can my employer tell me when I must take my vacation?

Your employer has a right to manage the way in which it deals with its vacation pay, one such way of doing this is to control when vacation time can be taken. Another way is to control how much vacation time can be taken at any one time.

Is it legal if I do not take all of the vacation that I have accrued by the end of the year, and my employer pays me for those days rather than allowing me to roll them into the next year?

Your employer has the right to manage their vacation pay responsibilities. One way of doing this is to pay off employees for each year of vacation that they have earned and accrued but have been unable to take. They have the option to allow the days to roll over into the next year.

What To Do If Your San Diego Employer Took Away PTO Or Vacation time

If you feel your employer took away your PTO or vacation time, you should speak to the HR department immediately for clarification. You should review your employee contract and make sure you are fully aware of the situation before making a hasty decision. After speaking with HR and gathering the facts, you may want to speak with a San Diego labor lawyer. To receive a free 15 minute confidential consultation with Walker Law, click here to get started.

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