What-Happens-To-Your-Vacation-Pay-When-You-Quit-Are-Fired.jpg (2149×1159)Vacation pay is a perk many companies use to attract good employees, but what happens when you haven’t used all your days off at the time that you are fired or quit? Here is what you need to know.

How Vacation Pay Or PTO Treated

In California, paid time off, vacation pay, floating holidays, and personal days are considered something an employee earns, just like your wages. In fact, it’s the law that you can trade your vacation days for money. Since you earned it, the employer owes it to you. The company just hasn’t paid you yet if you haven’t used your time or cashed it in. 

What This Means For Your Final Paycheck

According to the California Labor Code Section 227.3, if your employer provides vacation pay as part of your compensation package than the entity must pay you whatever vacation pay you haven’t used at the time that you stop working for them. This pay must be at your final rate, i.e the rate that you are paid for vacation days at your current position. Your employer has to pay you on your last day of work if you gave at least 72 hour notice, though in some circumstances, such as seasonal work, they have up to 72 hours after your last day to pony up the money. All this holds true whether you are quitting and moving onto greener pastures, or if you are being fired.

If you work for the state, you can elect to have that money put into your 401(K) or other state-sponsored supplemental retirement plan, but you have to write to your employer at least five days before your last day and be terminated after November 1st.

Exceptions And Caps

There are a couple of things to keep in mind when looking at your final paycheck. No company is required to provide paid vacations, and when they do, they are allowed to cap the vacation time that you can accrue. A pretty conservative cap, is 1.75 times the amount of the annual accrual rate. Since this is considered earned, the pay can be prorated to the amount you have earned within the time that you have worked. For instance, if your company gives 2 weeks of paid vacation in a year, and you leave the company after working there for six months without taking any PTO or paid vacation time, they owe you pay for one week of vacation.

The exception that is written into the labor code is in the case of a collective-bargaining agreement. If your work contract provides a certain type of severance package regarding vacation pay, then your company will follow that arrangement. 

It’s important to remember that vacation pay or PTO is wholly separate from sick leave. Sick leave is mandatory, is accrued over time at the rate of 1 hour per 30 hours worked, and can be capped out at 6 days or 48 hours per year. The biggest difference is that you are not given the money for any unused paid sick leave that you have when you end your employment with a company. If you get rehired, the company must reinstate your accrued sick leave, but it can’t be cashed out.

When To Call A Lawyer

If your employer provides paid vacations, then they have to pay you any unused vacation wages when you stop working with them. They are not allowed to apply ‘use it or lose it’ policies, where you have to use your vacation time for the year or you will lose it. 

Aiman-Smith & Marcy is a boutique law firm that specializes in employment law, as well as consumer protection and class-action lawsuits. When you have questions about your last paycheck and whether you are getting all the vacation pay that is due to you, we can help. Contact us for more information.

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Lisseth Bayona


Education and Background

I am a Los Angeles native and daughter of Salvadorian immigrants. From an early age, my parents instilled the value of hard work and education in me and my two siblings. Their perseverance enabled each of us to graduate from college and earn professional degrees.

My interest and commitment to workers’ rights have roots in my parents’ experiences as undocumented workers in Los Angeles. Witnessing the challenges they faced inspired me to pursue a career where I can help individuals confronted with similar struggles. To help someone in those moments is very satisfying. I love connecting with people and learning about their stories. I believe that dignity in the workplace is a right of all workers, not a convenience or privilege reserved for employees of a certain race, gender, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Legal Experience

I received my J.D. from the University of Southern California (USC) Gould School of Law. While there, I served as a judicial extern to the Honorable Patrick J. Walsh of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, where I drafted a criminal judicial opinion. Also, while at Gould, I served as an extern for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. As a Criminal Division Extern, I had the opportunity to work closely with a trial team of Assistant U.S. Attorneys on a money laundering case which further sparked my interest in litigation.

Personal Interests

In my free time, I enjoy urban vegetable gardening, traveling, and spending time with my nephew and niece. I also love to spend time at San Onofre Beach learning to surf, although admittedly, I am not very good.



Hallie L. Von Rock

Attorney (SBN 233152)

Education and Background

I moved to the Bay Area from Washington after graduating high school. I had been accepted to UC Berkeley through a program where I could defer for two years while getting my California residency and attending community college, which was significant since I was paying for college on my own. I began working for Randall Aiman-Smith and Reed Marcy in 1996 as an office manager while taking night classes. My first foray into the legal world was soon after starting at the firm when I was ready to transfer to UC Berkeley. Rather than accepting my resident status, the Board of Regents took the position that California residency required a student to be in California “two calendar years.” Randall and Reed took up my case with the same verve as they helped their actual clients and I got the chance to comb through the UC Berkeley library to read their codes and regulations to support my position. In that experience, I learned what is was like to feel helpless against a big organization and then to have dedicated attorneys in my corner to take up my cause.

After a break to pursue my major in art history, I went to UC Hastings College of Law and continued working with Randall and Reed. Having worked together now for over 25 years, we have a unique ability to work collaboratively and finish each other’s sentences. I have strived throughout my career to make a difference in the lives of our clients. At the end of the day, if I am helping someone to get compensation for losses they suffered, then I know that all the work put into a case has been worth it.

Legal Experience

I have extensive experience in civil litigation and class action cases, including conducting discovery and depositions, calculating damages analysis, preparing motions for certification, writing appellate documents, and overseeing claims administration. We have handled several class actions against retailers where plaintiffs claimed they were forced to purchase clothing to wear to work and were not compensated for these purchases, including against Abercrombie & Fitch, Hugo Boss, Armani Exchange, Uniqlo, Dollar Tree, and Ross. Recently, I was trial counsel in a defamation claim against Bank of America on behalf of a former employee who claimed the Bank blacklisted her with future employers. The jury found Bank of America liable, including for punitive damages.

Personal Interests

Aiman-Smith & Marcy has sponsored me in the Boston Marathon and New York Marathon. When I race, I often wear a “Rockstar Ronan” shirt to support research for childhood cancer through The Ronan Thompson Foundation.


University of California, Berkeley, B.A., 1999

Hastings College of the Law, University of California, J.D., 2004

Randall Aiman-Smith

Abogado (SBN 124599)

Aiman-Smith & Marcy. Oakland consumer fraud attorneys.

Educación y antecedentes

Fui afortunado. A pesar de no haber terminado la escuela secundaria o la universidad, pude -aunque con mucho trabajo- ser admitido y sobresalir en una de las mejores escuelas de derecho del país: La Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Berkeley. Mientras estuve allí, tuve el privilegio de ser editor de la California Law Review y miembro del Moot Court Board, asesorando en la redacción de escritos y en la defensa de apelaciones a otros estudiantes. Después de salir de la escuela de derecho, en mis primeros años de práctica, enseñé la escritura legal y la defensa de apelación en la Universidad de California, Hastings College of the Law. También, a lo largo de los años, he sido presentador en eventos de educación legal continua.

Experiencia legal

He sido abogado durante 35 años. He dedicado mi práctica exclusivamente a representar a empleados, consumidores e inversores en los tribunales estatales y federales de primera instancia y en los tribunales de apelación. Me gusta ir a los tribunales por mis clientes y he llevado muchos casos con jurado en los tribunales estatales y federales.

¿Ejemplos? En 2010, fui la abogada principal, junto con los otros abogados del bufete, en el caso Williams v. Union Pacific Railroad donde, después de cuatro años de preparación, el bufete obtuvo un veredicto del jurado de 1.670.000 dólares para una empleada afroamericana. En Rivero v. Surdyka, fui el abogado principal en el juicio y la apelación de un caso de derechos civiles que duró 15 años, incluyendo un juicio completo y tres apelaciones al Noveno Circuito, concluyendo finalmente con una sentencia para los demandantes de más de 2.300.000 dólares. Estos casos ilustran el lema del bufete: compromiso – resultados. Hay que comprometerse con un caso, a veces durante mucho tiempo, para obtener el resultado que el cliente merece.

No siempre ganamos en el juicio. Cuando eso ocurre, el compromiso significa llevar el caso al siguiente nivel y recurrirlo. En el caso Rivero, antes mencionado, eso fue lo que ocurrió: el tribunal desestimó el caso -habíamos perdido- pero apelamos y conseguimos una victoria para nuestros clientes que mantuvimos a través de dos apelaciones más. Desde entonces, el bufete ha conseguido muchas victorias en apelación que reivindican los derechos de los empleados y los consumidores.

A lo largo de los años he sido abogado de los demandantes en numerosos casos individuales y acciones colectivas. Puede sonar cursi, o difícil de creer, pero después de todo este tiempo, y después de todas las grandes experiencias que he tenido, mi parte favorita de ser abogado es cuando consigo dar un cheque a mi cliente.



Facultad de Derecho, Universidad de California, Berkeley, J.D., 1986