Local governmental subdivisions are barred by state law from establishing a mandatory, minimum number of vacation or sick leave days for employees of private employers, whether paid or unpaid (LA R.S. 23:642).
If promised, must be granted. Although no Louisiana 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 might be legally bound to provide it--and that a binding promise does not require embodiment in a formal employment contract. Louisiana 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 a matter of consistent practice, may constitute an implied contract, which is binding and enforceable.
Vacation pay due at termination? Louisiana courts have ruled that vacation pay is considered “wages,” and that once vacation time is accumulated, it is the property of the employee. Thus, unused earned time for paid vacation must be paid at termination. Penalties for violating compensation for vacation at termination are the same as for failure to pay last wages within 3 days of termination. Written or other policies requiring the forfeiture of such accrued rights are not enforceable (Beard v. Summit Institute, 707 So.2d 1233 (La. 1998)).
Accrual method. Employers are free to devise their own system for vacation accrual--for example, on a monthly or pay-period basis, or upon completion of a 6-month or 12-month period. It is important to be clear and unambiguous when drafting such policies. If the ...