Let’s say you get ten days of paid vacation every year. Up to the last month that you’ll be able to use your vacation days, you have 7 days of vacation days left. Your boss tells you that you have to take these vacation days before the end of the year or else you’ll lose them. What do you do?

There’s no law that requires employers to provide paid vacation to their employees. However, some states do have laws that form the kind of vacation policies employers can create. This means that employers do not have to offer vacation, but if they do, they have to follow certain guidelines.

This “use-it-or-lose-it” policy for vacation days provides a certain deadline, which is usually by the end of the year, by which employees must use their saved up vacation or forfeit it. In most states, this is perfectly legal as long as they are clearly communicated to the employee and not applied in a discriminatory way. For example, an employer may not use this policy to target certain races or sexes.

However, in some states, such as California, this “use-it-lose-it” policies are illegal. California law declares accrued vacation to be a kind of wages that have already been earned by the employee. Thus, the employer cannot take those wages back.

However, California employers can provide some reasonable limit on vacation accrual. For example, if you earn 10 days of vacation each year, your employer can set a limit of 20 days.

David Payab, Esq. from The Law Offices of Payab & Associates can be reached @ (818) 918-5522 or by visiting


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