Getting Paid for Unused Vacation if You Quit

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Are you ready to quit your job? If your job status is about to change, you may be wondering, "Will I be paid for unused vacation or sick time if I resign from my job?" This is just one of many questions you may be pondering if you are considering leaving your current position. Before addressing this specific issue, it is wise to first evaluate your reasons for wanting to quit your job. Here, first, are some other things to consider before quitting.

Determine What About Your Current Situation is Frustrating

Figuring out the problem is the first step towards solving it. Identify how your job is failing you. Is the problem the people, the environment, or the work itself? After you’ve determined the main frustration, consider the scope. If you decide you’re not able to be as creative as you like, for example, you may not need to quit to fill the void.

Try a creative hobby outside of work or see if there is work available in another department or on a different project. Perhaps your company is in the midst of a restructuring, leaving you uncertain about your job security and/or future role with the organization. If this is the case, you may find relief for your worries simply by sitting down with your supervisor or your human resources department to discuss the situation.

Ask yourself whether there are good reasons to stay rather than quitting, or should your decision to quit be final?

If Your Situation Abusive or Unbearable

Be honest about how bad the situation really is. If your manager is being verbally abusive it might be time to leave (or make an appointment with human resources). If you are irritated, but not necessarily mistreated, figure out if you can tolerate the job while looking elsewhere or working toward your future goals from within the company.

Goals for Job, Career, and Life

Think about what you really want and how you’ll get there. Define your priorities. If you’d like to make a career change, think about all the necessary steps. They may include more school, a pay cut, or working your way up from the bottom. Once you know exactly what you want, you may want to ask: “How much do I want this career change and how can I best orchestrate it?”

Plans for Attaining Next Job

Figure out your strengths and how you can leverage them. Think less about the job titles and dream companies and more about your skill set and experience. If you discover you are lacking in an area, plan out how you will develop your skills. You may need to pursue more education, take a volunteer position, or start positioning yourself for the next job while still in your current job. 

Getting Paid for Unused Vacation or Sick Time

Once you know, without a doubt, that you are prepared for a job change and will definitely be leaving your current employer, it is time to think about any unused vacation or sick time you have. Because companies are not obligated to provide paid vacation or sick time to employees, they are also not required to pay employees for unused leave time, unless there is a company policy and/or state law providing for payment when an employee resigns.

In addition, there is no federal law governing if and when accrued vacation must be paid when an employee leaves his or her job. If you resign, whether you are paid for unused vacation and sick time depends on company policy and the law in your state regarding accrued leave time and whether that company policy sets criteria for paying employees for unused vacation or sick leave. If you're fired, there may be different laws and policies that cover what you'll be paid for after a termination.

States That Require Payment for Unused Leave

The states where unused leave must be paid in all cases are: California, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Maryland (if the employer has no vacation policy), Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota (if the employee has worked for at least one year), Oklahoma, Rhode Island (if the employee has worked for at least one year), and South Carolina.

The states requiring that unused leave be paid if an employment contract or employer promise to pay exists are: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

In the states where there is no relevant law (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming), individual company policy determines whether you can collect unpaid vacation upon your resignation (Source: Business Management Daily).

If you're not sure about eligibility, check with your state department of labor for information on what unused leave pay you qualify for.