Separation payout for vacation time earned full-time after later reducing hours
November 29, 2009 10:07 PM   Subscribe

What happens to the separation payout for vacation time earned as a full-time employee if the employee is on part time or reduced hours when leaving?

A buddy in DC has a block of vacation time, measured in hours of vacation time available, that he earned as a salaried full time employee. A while ago he reduced his hours, and his pay reduced in proportion to his hours. His company's policy is to pay for unused vacation time upon separation, but he worries that reducing his hours reduces the dollar payout value of the banked vacation time, and he's a bit skittish about probing for specifics with his company before announcing plans.

My guess is that the dollar payout for the vacation time should remain the same no matter how much his hours reduced because the value of each hour of work (and vacation?) has been proportionally maintained during the hours reductions.

Does anybody know for sure? This in Washington, DC.
posted by NortonDC to Work & Money (6 answers total)
I would think your friend needs to speak with an employment lawyer familiar with the local law in order to get a reliable answer.
posted by dfriedman at 10:55 PM on November 29, 2009

Vacation is vested. It's payable upon termination.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 1:07 AM on November 30, 2009

(Meaning, his current schedule does not alter his what he has in the vacation bank. It would only alter his current rate of accruing additional vacation hours.)
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 1:09 AM on November 30, 2009

Unless your buddy is now being paid less per hour worked, he likely has nothing to fear. He'll most likely be paid that rate for unused vacation. The easiest way to find out is to inquire what he will be paid if he just goes on vacation. That should be the same as the payout if he leaves.

But, he won't know for sure until he asks, and since he doesn't want to show his hand, and likely would not stay at the job just to keep a higher level of reimbursement, this question is kind of moot until he's ready to leave. Can't know unless he asks, but making less because you are part-time does not equal making less for any hour worked. Check into that.
posted by qwip at 2:43 AM on November 30, 2009

It actually depends on DC employment law. Some states require payment of all accrued but unused vacation as part of the employment severance, some don't. If DC doesn't require it, he's at the mercy of his employer regarding how to pay him out.

I'm in HR and I've seen a lot of formerly good employment relationships go south when someone decides to be a dick about something like this, right at the end of their employment. Even if we didn't know they were looking, being aggressive about your vacation accrual/value is a pretty strong signal that the person is getting ready to leave, and will be the kind of person who we have to take extra precautions with as they exit. The guy just needs to be reasonable, talk to his employer's HR about his situation, and ask nicely for the complete amount. Don't burn bridges, and don't assume the company is out to screw you unless they've been shown to be that kind of employer pretty repeatedly already.
posted by pomegranate at 3:32 AM on November 30, 2009

I left a job in DC under difficult circumstances (boss threatening, no, pursuing, suing me for breach of contract), and still got paid for unused vacation. Might've been company policy, though.
posted by MrMoonPie at 5:09 PM on November 30, 2009

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