If promised, vacation must be granted. Although no Oklahoma law requires private sector employers to provide employees with vacations, paid or unpaid, most employers do offer their employees some version of vacation.
It is important for employers to remember that if they “promise” vacation they may be legally bound to provide it—and that a binding promise does not require embodiment in a formal employment contract. Oklahoma courts have ruled that, under some circumstances, an employer's assurance of paid vacation time, whether made in an employee handbook or given orally, or simply understood as a matter of common practice, may constitute an implied contract that is binding and enforceable.
Payment due upon termination. Oklahoma law requires an employer to pay an employee's wages in full at termination, and defines “wages” to include vacation pay and other similar advantages agreed on between the employer and the employee or provided by the employer to his employees in an established policy.
If an employee grants paid vacation and provides or promises to provide payment of cash in lieu of time off for unused but earned time, an employee who leaves the payroll must be paid for such time. If not, the employer will be liable for the unpaid time, plus 2 percent of the unpaid wages for each day of delinquency, or double the unpaid amount, whichever is less (OK Stat. Tit. 40 Sec. 165.3; Biggs v. Surrey, 811 P.2d 11 (1991)).
No laws prohibit “use it or lose it” vacation policies. The state Department of Labor regulations permit employers and employees to enter into private agreements to impose conditions on which such pay may be paid.
If there are conditions that must be met before taking vacation (“conditions ...