Q: I just left my job and have accepted a new role, which allows me to work remotely 3 days per week. The gas savings makes it worth it. The role could also be a stepping stone to management-level role. When I tendered my resignation, it was in January and I gave the standard two weeks’ notice. When I was hired at my former company, I was given 20 weeks of vacation time. I was only paid a portion of that vacation time when I left. Why would I only get reimburse for a portion of that time. I feel short changed and cheated out of what was promised to me in the benefits summary.
A: Congratulations on landing a new role! It sounds like this new opportunity may also offer additional opportunities down the road.
One clarification though! I think you meant that you were given 20 days of vacation time, vs. 20 weeks of vacation time. I am assuming your benefits run on a calendar year (January 1 – December 31). You are correct that vacation time should be paid out to an employee who is separating (whether a resignation or a termination). However, your former employer is likely paying you only for unused but accrued vacation time, not the time that you would have accrued over a full calendar year. A little-known fact is that employers are not required to offer vacation time to employees. Most do, as it would put the employer as a disadvantage with respect to attracting and retaining talent.
The 20 days that you were offered at your former company was likely an annual allotment. So, 20 days over a 12-month period. According to my calculations, this would equate to 1.67 days per full months of work. Employers are permitted to create their own policies around vacation time. Some of my clients require that you work the entire month to earn the 1.67 days of vacation time for that month. Some of my clients require that you work at least through the 15th of the month.
As an example, let’s assume that you took no vacation time from January 1, 2023 until your last date of employment. Let’s assume that your last date of employment was February 10, 2023. Your calculation would be 2 months (worked) divided by 12 months (full year). You would be eligible to receive 3.4 days of vacation time, assuming you work five days per week. Your final vacation payment should be 17% of your annual allotment. Again, your employer may calculate it a bit differently, and they may require an employee to work through the 15th of the month, or even to the end of the month.
You may want to check your former employer’s vacation policy. Employers are legally obligated to pay any unused but accrued time. However, it is unlikely if you left during the year that you would be entitled to a full 20 days of vacation time. It is also reasonable to contact your former employer and ask them to explain the calculation. It sounds like perhaps you misunderstood how vacation pay-outs are calculated.
Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Boston.com Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.