Colorado Workers are Entitled to Earned Vacation Days

 In Employment Law, Overtime Law, Wage Law

Colorado Employers Must Pay Workers Earned Vacation Days

Employers have a nearly unlimited number of methods to engage in wage theft and theft of other benefits earned by their workers. One example is forcing workers to forfeit their earned vacation days and paid time off.

However, some states like Colorado have stepped up to protect workers from this type of employer abuse. In Colorado, when a worker separates from employment, employers MUST pay the worker the equivalent of their hourly wages for any earned vacation days or earned paid time off (“PTO”). As we covered in a prior blog post (here), this was the holding of a Colorado Supreme Court decision from last year. See Nieto v. Clark’s Market, 488 P.3d 1140 (Colo. Supreme Court 2021).

As a result, the Colorado Department of Labor has recently issued new Guidance on protecting workers from forced loss of earned vacation days. See Guidance/Info Sheet here.

As described in the Guidance, not only are Colorado workers required to be paid for their vacation days, employers cannot, by contract or by any other method, coerce or cause workers to forfeit their right to be paid for their earned vacation days and time off. Thus, for example, employers cannot have a worker sign an agreement or agree verbally that the worker will waive payment for vacation days or time off when they stop working for the employer.

Moreover, what “counts” as an earned vacation day or time off is very broadly defined. So, any paid time off/leave which a worker CAN use is considered to be paid vacation days under the Colorado rules. For example, earned “personal days” are deemed to be “vacation days” in Colorado which cannot be forfeited.

Finally, the prohibition on forfeiture applies to “rolling over” earned vacation and time off from year to year. Thus, in Colorado, “use-or-lose-it” policies are prohibited. Many employers have use-it-or-lose it policies where earned vacation days do not roll over to a new year after December 31st.

In addition to Colorado, other States also have Laws to Ensure Workers are Paid Earned Vacation Days

Several other states require payment of vacation days and PTO like Colorado when a worker separates from employment. These states include:

  • Massachusetts
  • Louisiana
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Rhode Island (if the worker has been employed for more than a year)

Many other states specifically require payment of earned PTO after separation from employment, but have more employer-friendly rules for when an employer must pay the equivalent of unused vacation days. If you think that your employer has failed to pay you the wage-equivalent of your earned vacation days and PTO, you should contact us here at Herrmann Law. You have rights that can be vindicated. Employers can be punished for violating wage and pay statutes.

Call the Employee Rights Attorneys at Herrmann Law Today

For more information, call the Employee Rights attorneys at Herrmann Law. If you think that your employer has violated your rights as an employee, call us. We are proven, experienced, employee-focused attorneys representing workers across the United States in all types of workplace disputes. Use our Online Contact page or call us at (817) 479-9229. We are more than just a law firm for employees – we are an employee’s fiercest advocate, equipping employees with the legal representation needed to achieve the best result possible.

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