The Ins and Outs of Vacation Pay Per Massachusetts Law

Determining vacation pay requirements under the Massachusetts Wage Act

Employees in Fall River, pittsfield, worcester, springfield, lowell, New Bedford, adams, and the cape may be entitled to be paid for unused vacation time.  

According to Massachusetts law, employers are not required to offer vacation time to their employees. Many of them do, of course, as employees have come to expect vacation time as a benefit and will likely look elsewhere for work if it is not offered.

Employers that do offer vacation time, however, must treat vacation time consistent with the requirements of the Massachusetts Wage Act because, according to that law, vacation time is considered “wages.” As a result, upon separation from employment, employees must be compensated by their employers for vacation time earned an unused under an agreement, whether written or oral.

For example, if you are provided with 2 weeks of paid vacation per year and quit your job mid-year, you are entitled to be paid for 1 week of vacation, assuming you had not taken any vacation at the time you quit.  That payment must come to as part of the next regular pay cycle.  Unused vacation must be paid to you on the very same day you are terminated if your employment ends involuntarily.  

Employers are entitled to set terms and conditions regarding the use of vacation time, including not allowing employees to utilize that time until they satisfy a probationary or trial period. Employers can also dictate the amount of vacation time an employee may take and can require that the allotted time be accrued over time (e.g., a certain amount of hours per pay period). Employers may also enforce a policy that prohibits employees from rolling unused vacation time forward to subsequent years. Known as a “use it or lose it policy,” this policy requires employees to use vacation time in the year in which it was accrued or lose it forever.

In short, if your employer offers you paid vacation, it must be treated as wages for purposes of the Massachusetts Wage Act. This means that upon separation of employment, your employer must pay you for all unused vacation time that you have accrued at the time of separation.   

Are you an employee living in Pittsfield, Springfield, Worcester, Lowell, Fall River, New Bedford or the Cape?  Are you not getting the vacation pay to which you are entitled?  Contact Steffans Legal today for a free consultation.