Although no Florida law requires private sector employers to provide employees with vacations, paid or unpaid, most employers do offer their employees some version of vacation. Thus, 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. Florida courts have ruled that, under some circumstances, an employer's assurance of paid vacation time, whether made in an employee handbook, given orally, or simply understood as policy through consistent practice, may constitute an implied contract that is binding and enforceable.
Florida's statutory definition of wages includes all forms of remuneration for an employee's services, based on time worked or production output. The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that vacation pay, if promised by implied or express contract, is included in this definition. Thus, if an employee leaves the payroll, the person's accrued, unused vacation must be compensated in accordance with the employer's accrual plan (FL Stat. Sec. 443.036(31); FL Stat. Sec. 443.1217; Ferry v. XRG International, 492 So. 2d 1101(1986)).
Employers are free to devise their own system for vacation accrual. There are several different commonly used options:
• Upon completion of a 6-month or 12-month period
It is important to be clear and unambiguous when drafting such policies. If the policy is intended to ensure that employees work the entire accrual period to earn their vacation days, it should state clearly that employees will not be entitled to pro rata payment if they ...