Does an Employer Have to Pay Out Accrued, Unused PTO When You Leave a Job in Florida?
Paid-time-off (PTO) is a crucial employment benefit for many workers in Florida. Often, a worker will gradually accrue PTO. What happens if you suddenly leave your company—either voluntarily or involuntarily—without using all of your accrued PTO? Does your employer have to pay it out? In Florida, the answer is generally “no”—though many companies will pay it out and you may have options for getting it paid out. In this article, you will learn about the key things to know about Florida’s wage and hour laws regarding accrued, unused paid-time-off (PTO).
Background: No Florida Law or Federal Law that Guarantees Payment for PTO
While it is often perceived as an entitlement, the payout of unused paid time off (PTO) upon termination of employment is not explicitly mandated by either Florida law or federal law. The legal reality of this may seem surprising, considering the traditional view of PTO as an earned benefit. Still, both Florida and federal laws lack specific statutes requiring employers to pay out accrued, unused vacation or PTO when an employee leaves the company, regardless of whether the departure is voluntary or involuntary. Legally speaking, PTO is considered more of a privilege extended by the employer than a right protected by law. Consequently, employers have the discretion to establish their own policies regarding the payout of unused PTO.
You May Be Guaranteed Your Unused PTO Under an Employment Agreement
An employment agreement could guarantee the payment of all accrued, unused PTO when you leave your employer. Along the same lines, there may also be a broad company policy in place that guarantees the payment of PTO. If the company has explicitly outlined in writing that they will pay for unused PTO at the end of an employment relationship, they are legally obliged to honor this commitment. Failure to do so can be considered a breach of contract.
Some Employers Voluntarily Pay it Out, May Also Be Negotiated in Severance Package
While not legally required, some employers in Florida choose to pay out unused PTO as a part of their standard practices or as a show of good faith. In situations involving layoffs or other involuntary terminations, payout for unused PTO may be negotiated as a part of a severance package. Severance packages are not mandatory under Florida law but can be a common practice in many industries. As such, if you are in the process of negotiating a severance package, it may be possible to include your accrued, unused PTO as a part of the negotiations. PTO is one of the many factors to consider when evaluating a severance package.
Get Help From an Employment Attorney in Florida
Employers in Florida must comply with all applicable wage and hour regulations. If you have any questions about a matter related to the accrued, unused PTO, please do not hesitate to reach out to an experienced Florida employment law attorney for guidance and support.