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New York Employment Law Attorneys Help Ex-Employees Recover Compensation for Accrued Vacation Time


We have the knowledge needed to help you get every penny you’ve earned

For many people, leaving a job is an emotionally draining experience, especially with the wide range of legal details that must be addressed during the separation. If you have been terminated or resigned it is important to put your emotions aside to ensure that you receive every dollar and benefit you are entitled to for your work, especially your accrued vacation or paid time off hours.

At Hepworth, Gershbaum & Roth, PLLC, our New York employment law attorneys have seen far too many individuals taken advantage of by former employers. With more than 70 years of experience handling employment law issues, our lawyers have the skill and insight needed to help you understand the payments you are entitled to upon termination or resignation from your employment.

Are New York employers required to compensate former employees for accrued vacation hours?

Under New York law, employers are not legally required to offer payment for vacation or holiday pay. However, if an employer chooses to offer these benefits, they are required to compensate a terminated or resigning employee for any unused vacation hours accrued during their regular employment. This means that the employer must submit pay the departing employee their working wage for any and all vacation hours accrued.

There are exceptions to the law, however, including situations involving:

  • A written forfeiture policy: Employment agreements include a myriad of details related to an employee’s separation from the company. Some agreements include language relating to the forfeiture of accrued vacation hours in the event of the employee’s termination or resignation. Provided that the forfeiture notice is clearly and legally stated, the employer may be exempt from compensating the employee for accrued hours.

  • Gross employee misconduct: In some cases, gross misconduct may be grounds for an employer to deny payment of accrued vacation hours. In order for an employer to deny vacation pay based on misconduct, the signed employment agreement must clearly define the actions or inactions that may lead to termination or refusal of vacation pay.

  • Discontinuation of business operations: Businesses that file for Chapter 11 protection or shutter their doors entirely may be exempt from compensating employees for accrued vacation hours. Exemptions in these cases are based on the details of the situation, however, making it important for affected employees to discuss their cases with a New York employment lawyer.

Even in these situations, it falls to the employer to prove that the exceptions have been met. It is also important to remember that an employer may include payment for accrued vacation hours in a severance offer – this makes it imperative to carefully review all details of such an offer before acceptance.

Are personal days also covered by this law?

Personal days, sick days or discretionary days are treated differently under New York law. In many cases, these hours are offered voluntarily by an employer, with the caveat that the employee must use them or forfeit the benefit.

However, if an employment agreement states that the employee is entitled to payment for these hours upon termination of employment, the employer is responsible for compensating the departing employee for any and all unused personal days. 

What can I do if I have been denied payment for my vacation hours?

If you are legally entitled to compensation for accrued vacation time, there are a number of steps you can take to recover payment, including:

  • Contact the employer: It is very possible that the human resources department at your former employer simply overlooked your accrued vacation hours. While reaching out to them can be uncomfortable, it may be helpful in resolving the situation.

  • File a complaint: In the event that your former employer refuses to compensate you for accrued vacation hours, you have the right to file a complaint with the New York Department of Labor. Filing a claim will prompt a review by the Department of Labor, which may lead to sanctions against your former employer and a judgment for compensation in your favor.

  • Take legal action: Unfortunately, not all claims with the Department of Labor are resolved quickly or effectively. After filing a claim with the Department of labor, you may wish to take legal action against your former employer in the hopes of recovering a settlement or judgment for compensation.

Whatever path you choose, working with an experienced New York employment law attorney should limit the frustration and expense related to your proceedings.

Schedule a free consultation to discuss your unique vacation hour compensation concerns

The New York employment lawyers at Hepworth, Gershbaum & Roth, PLLC know every penny is important during an employment transition. We also know how difficult it can be to deal with the complexities of leaving a job. To help protect your finances, our attorneys offer personalized and attentive representation throughout the process of separating from your employment. Contact us online or call 212-545-1199 to schedule a free consultation with one of our New York employment law attorneys.




Contact an employment law attorney in New York today for a free initial consultation and determine whether you have a case. For a free initial consultation, you can contact us online or by phone.

CALL US TODAY! 212-545-1199