Last Paycheck and Last Vacation Days: What Am I Entitled to When I Leave My Job?
So, you’ve finally landed that new job and the last thing on your plate is the dreaded conversation of letting your current employer know you’re leaving. While this conversation alone may be very stressful, it is even worse if the issue of your unused vacation pay and sick leave payout is unanswered. Indeed, many employees have a number of questions about the final weeks of employment and whether they retain certain rights when it comes to unpaid wages, including unpaid sick leave and vacation pay.
Some employees may even find themselves in the difficult situation of their employer refusing to pay their final paycheck. In such a situation, what remedies you are available? And what about all of those vacation days you saved up—are you still entitled to them if you have given notice of your intention to leave your current position?
In short, you still have certain employee rights even if you resign from your position or if you are terminated. To better understand those rights, we explain the law.
My Employer Will Not Send Me My Last Paycheck
When you leave your job, regardless of whether you have resigned or have been terminated, you are entitled to be paid for the hours you have worked. However, for Florida employees, you do not have to be paid the day of your separation. Pursuant to federal law (the Fair Labor Standards Act) and state law (the Florida Minimum Wage Act), employers are not required by law to give you your last paycheck immediately. In other words, as soon as you work your last day, your employer does not have to immediately send out your last paycheck. Rather, you are obligated to be paid within a reasonable amount of time – and normally within the customary payroll practices.
However, if the standard payday for your last pay period comes and goes and you have not received your paycheck, then you may be eligible to file a claim/lawsuit for your unpaid wages. As the Department of Labor makes clear, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) protects employees when they are owed “back pay.”
Back pay can take the form of a last paycheck, or the missing wages from what an employee should have been paid when their paycheck is for less, which could include unpaid overtime. When you are owed back wages, you can seek what you are owed through the Secretary of Labor, or you can file a private lawsuit to seek back pay from the employer.
It is important to recognize that there is a statute of limitations for such claims that could impact your case. In most cases, a two-year statute of limitations applies to recovering back pay, which means you will need to file your claim within two years. When an employee’s violations are considered willful, the statute of limitations is three years. Regardless as to where you are within the statute of limitations (and assuming you’re still within the statute of limitations), it is best to seek counsel of an employment attorney immediately to preserve your rights.
Vacation Time and Leaving Your Job
What happens to vacation time that you have accrued? Does your employer have to compensate you for this if you leave the company prior to taking those vacation days? It depends. If you have been promised vacation pay, either through an express or implied contract, that your accrued, unused vacation must be compensated under Section 443.1217 of the Florida Statutes and the Florida Supreme Court case of Ferry v. XRG.
However, if you have already been compensated for vacation days that have not yet accrued and you leave your job, your employer may be able to deduct that amount from you. Some companies have a use-it-or-lose-it policy for vacation time, and in those circumstances, it is possible you may not be entitled to your unused vacation pay.
Contact a West Palm Beach Employment Lawyer
If you have questions about your employee rights to certain wages once you resign or are terminated from your job, an experienced labor lawyer in West Palm Beach can help. Contact Scott Wagner and Associates, P.A. to learn more about how we can assist you.