Written by attorney Randy T. Enochs

Q: Is an employer required to pay unused vacation time upon resignation or termination?

A fairly common question people have when their employment concludes is what happens with their unused, accrued vacation time. The answer is: it depends.

In Wisconsin, like most every other state, the rule is that unused vacation time is to be paid out upon separation of employment UNLESS the employer's policy says it will not be paid out. For example, an employer may have a policy (usually stated in the employee handbook) that states unused vacation pay will not be paid out if an employee quits without giving proper 2-week notice or they may have a policy that doesn't pay accrued vacation time is the employee is terminated for cause. If you believe you are owed vacation time at the end of your employment, first consult with the employee handbook, and if you still believe you are owed vacation time pay, you may consult with a local employment attorney who can assess whether a complaint with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development is appropriate.

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