Wisconsin Vacations: What you need to know

If promised, vacation must be granted. While no Wisconsin law requires private 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. Wisconsin case law indicates that an employer's assurance of vacation time, whether made in an employee handbook, given orally, or simply a matter of consistent practice, may constitute an enforceable implied contract.
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Vacation pay due at termination? Wisconsin's statutory definition of wages includes vacation pay under most circumstances. Thus, if paid vacation is provided or promised, an employee who leaves the payroll must be paid for accrued but unused time. An employee who is not paid under those circumstances may file a complaint with the Department of Workforce Development and bring a court action as well. On the other hand, if there are special criteria attaching to pay on termination, a departing employee is not automatically entitled to receive accrued vacation pay. For example, if the employer has established a clearly written vacation policy providing that vacation pay is not earned until an employee's anniversary date of employment and it is distributed to all employees, it will not be paid if the employee doesn't reach this date.
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. ...

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