Although no Nebraska law requires private sector employers to provide employees with vacations, paid or unpaid, most employers do offer their employees some form 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. Nebraska 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.
Nebraska's statutory definition of wages is compensation for labor or services rendered by an employee, including fringe benefits, when previously agreed to and conditions stipulated have been met by the employee, whether the amount is determined on a time, task, fee, commission, or other basis. Nebraska's statutory definition of fringe benefits includes vacation leave plans (NE Rev. Stat. Sec. 48-1229).
Under the Nebraska Wage Payment and Collection Act, an employer must pay earned but unused vacation leave to an employee upon separation of employment. The Nebraska Supreme Court has ruled that promised vacation is a fringe benefit and that when an employee leaves a job, accrued but unused vacation time must be compensated (Suess v. Lee Sapp Leasing, 229 Neb. 755, 761 (1988)).
The Nebraska Supreme Court has also ruled that, as with the rules regarding payment of accrued vacation, Nebraska’s Wage Payment and Collection Act requires an employer to pay an ...