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South Carolina Vacations: What you need to know

Promises must be kept. While no South Carolina law requires private sector employers to provide employees with vacations, paid or unpaid, most employers do offer their employees some form of vacation. Therefore, it is especially 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. South Carolina case law indicates that an employer's assurance of vacation time, whether stated in an employee handbook, a policy, given orally, or understood simply as a matter of consistent practice, may constitute an enforceable implied contract.
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Vacation pay due at termination? South Carolina's statutory definition of wages expressly includes vacation pay that is due to an employee by policy or employment contract. Thus, if paid vacation is consistently provided or promised, an employee who leaves the payroll must be paid for accrued, unused time. The vacation pay is due within 48 hours of the time of separation or the next regular payday, which may not exceed 30 days. Failure to pay will allow the employee to file a complaint with the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, and bring a civil action as well, asking for triple damages, costs, and attorney's fees (SC Code Sec. 41-10-10, Sec. 41-10-50).
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 policy is intended to ensure that employees work the entire accrual period to earn their vacation days, it should ...

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