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Is it true that California Labor Law only allows a maximum of 27 days of PTO to be paid at time of termination?

Paramount, CA |

I was terminated after being suspended while an investigation was conducted.
At the time of my termination nothing was said in reference to the results of that investigation, no paperwork was provided regarding it or any other reason for letting me go, only that a decision had been made.
Upon giving me my final check, they tell me they can only pay me 27 PTO days per California Labor Law.
I worked almost 8yrs with them and my last vacation day was in 2011. I was owed 13 weeks vacation/PTO. Ive looked at the Labor Code and find nothing on 27 days. Is there such law that states this 27 day max even if you have 50, 100, 150 days?

Attorney Answers 4


  1. Best answer

    No. Calif. law treats PTO and vacation as earned wages once the time is earned by the employee. All earned and unused vacation or PTO must be paid on the employee's last day if the employee is fired. If not, the employee is owed one day's pay for each day he/she has to wait to get paid - up to 30 days and the employer "shall" pay the employee's attorney. Call an employment law attorney to discuss. Many of us offer a free phone consultation and may be able to get what is owed to you at no cost to you.


  2. There is no max PTO play out at termination. You are entitled to all PTO earned plus waiting time penalties of 1 day's pay for each day up to 30 days. Contact a lawyer for a free consult.


  3. The reason you cannot find anything in the labor code about PTO maxing out at 27 days is because it does not exist. Your ex-employer made it up. Once paid time off has been earned by the employee, it cannot be forfeited. That is the law. The only issue is whether the full amount you are claiming has been earned. If so, you are entitled to all of your earned PTO, plus waiting-time penalties.

    I suggest you send a certified letter to the employer demanding all of what is now owed to you within a specified time frame. If they do not pay, either have an employment law attorney file a legal action against the company or file a claim with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.

    They say you get what you pay for, and this response is free, so take it for what it is worth. This is my opinion based on very limited information. My opinion should not be taken as legal advice. For true advice, we would require a confidential consultation where I would ask you questions and get your complete story. This is a public forum, so remember, nothing here is confidential. Nor am I your attorney. I do not know who you are and you have not hired me to provide any legal service. To do so would require us to meet and sign written retainer agreement. My responses are intended for general information only.


  4. I agree with my colleagues that there is nothing in the Labor Code regarding a 27 day limit (or any other limit) on the amount of vacation time that an employee can accrue. There is only scenario under which limiting your vacation/PTO pay at termination to 27 days would be legitimate. That is if your employer had a policy that stated that you stop accruing additional vacation/PTO time after you have 27 days accrued.

    Most employers do have some sort of policy that states that you stop accruing vacation time after some maximum number of days. Employers adopt such policies to prevent the type of situation you are describing in which a terminated employee is owed months of vacation time. Nevertheless, there are still many employers who do not have such policies (usually because they do not understand the law in this area), in which case your vacation/PTO accrual would be unlimited.

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