In most states, private sector employers are not required to provide vacation, whether paid or unpaid, to employees. Therefore, employers have significant discretion in developing vacation and personal leave policies that best fit the needs of their workplace and employees.
If promised, vacation must be granted. Nonetheless, it is important for employers to understand that, if their practices, policies, or statements rise to the level of creating a “promise” of vacation, then the employer may create a binding legal obligation to provide vacation—even when state law would not otherwise require it to do so.
Payout of vacation at termination. This caution also applies to obligations to pay out accrued, but unused, vacation time at termination of employment.
Even where state law does not specifically require employers to pay out accrued vacation upon termination, a consistent practice, written policy, or contract promising such payment may create an enforceable legal obligation to do so.
In such circumstances, earned vacation will generally be treated as wages pursuant to state wage payment and collection laws.
Texas wage law defines “wages” as compensation owed by an employer for labor or services given by an employee, as well as vacation pay, holiday pay, sick leave pay, parental leave pay, or severance pay owed to an employee under a written agreement with the employer or under a written policy of the employer. When an employee leaves the job, the question of payment for vacation time depends upon what the employer has promised.
Therefore, if vacation is provided or promised, an employee who leaves the payroll must be paid for accrued but unused time (TX Lab. Code Sec. 61.001(7)(B)).
The law will enforce such ...