Part-time employees may get vacation time. While there are no state or federal laws that require it, many employers provide vacation time for their part-time employees. Sometimes, it is even paid time off (PTO). When vacation pay is provided, the polices and pracrices must comply with state labor laws.
Are there state or federal laws that require paid vacation?
No. Federal labor laws, like the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), do not mandate employers to provide paid time off for vacations to their employees – whether part-time or full-time employees. Additionally, no state requires paid, or even unpaid, vacation time for full- or part-time employees.
However, these laws do not forbid employers from providing paid time off.
If employers do give workers PTO, many state laws dictate how it can accrue and when it has to be paid.
Can an employer provide part-time employees vacation time?
Yes, employers can provide vacation time to their workers, including part-time employees.
When they do, the details about how vacation time accrues, how it can be used, and how it is paid are included in the employment contract, employee handbook, or collective bargaining agreement if the workers are unionized.
These logistics surrounding a worker’s vacation time have to comply with the state’s labor laws.
Why would an employer provide paid time off (PTO)?
Even though they are not legally required to provide vacation time, many employers choose to do so for the following reasons:
- it promotes employee well-being,
- it can increase workplace productivity by keeping workers from getting burned out,
- it improves worker morale, and
- it can attract better workers.
What are the rules for the accrual of sick leave and vacation days?
The employer’s vacation policy will set out the rules for eligibility for PTO, how it is accumulated, and how it can be used.
This includes PTO like:
- vacation leave,
- personal days, and
- sick days.
Most company policies provide employees with vacation benefits based on the length of time they have been on the job. For example, employers can provide a set number of hours of vacation per:
- number of days on the job,
- pay period, or
- years of service.
These policies will also outline the steps that employees have to take in order to use their accrued vacation time, as well as:
- whether some or all of the vacation time rolls over or will be lost at the end of the year,
- whether there is a waiting period that has to pass before a worker begins accruing any vacation time,
- if there is a cap to the amount of vacation time that an employee can save up, and
- what happens to unused vacation time when the employee is discharged or quits.
These rules, however, have to comply with state labor laws.
Do state laws regulate how vacation time can be paid?
Yes, many states have employment laws that regulate how vacation time is paid. Most of them limit when an employer can refuse to pay a discharged or departing employee for vacation time that has already been accrued.
Most states see the provision of vacation time as a part of the employment contract. Because it is a binding contract, if the employer promises vacation time to their employee, then the employer has to follow through on it. If they do not, they can be liable for violating the contract.
Some states, like Massachusetts and Illinois, require employers to pay all departing employees for vacation time they have not used.
Some other states, like North Dakota, require that employers pay a departing employee for accrued but unused vacation time, unless certain specific circumstances are met. Those circumstances are laid out in state law. Other states, like Colorado and Indiana, also require unused vacation time to be paid unless certain conditions are met. These states, however, let employers decide what those conditions will be in their vacation policies.
A couple of states, like Nebraska, ban the use of “use-it-or-lose-it” policies for all forms of PTO. In these states, employers cannot rescind vacation time that has already been earned.
How does vacation pay work in California for part-time workers?
California state law does not require employers to give vacation time to part-time workers. If a California employer does provide it, though, the state’s labor laws will regulate how it works.
Under California vacation pay laws, all paid time off, including vacation time, is a type of wage that an employee can earn. As a wage, the employee is entitled to receive it in his or her final paycheck.
Additionally, California is one of the few states that bans “use-it-or-lose-it” vacation time policies. However, according to the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), employers are allowed to cap vacation accrual to a set number of days of vacation.
 California Labor Code 200 LAB.
 California Labor Code 227.3 LAB.