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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
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Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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Using the vacation accrual cap statement below, and an employee

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Using the vacation accrual cap statement below, and an employee with 50 hours of vacation accrued on December 31st, and is eligable for 80 hours on January 1st, which is his or hers yearly accrual cap, and the employee takes 30 hours, would he or she still have 80 hours or would the employee lose the 50 hours? Also if they lose the 50 hours because of the accrual cap would they lose the 50 hours of pay?

Vacation Accrual Cap Policy

The total amount of vacation any employee may accrue is equal to the amount of vacation time that employee can earn in one year. In the event an employee reaches the vacation accrual cap he or she will not accrue any more vacation time until they have used their vacation time to allow for more to accrue. Employees may use vacation as approved, but cannot accumulate more than the amount listed in the table.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Hello and thank you for entrusting me to answer your question. My goal is to answer your question completely and thoroughly and to provide excellent service.

I am not totally sure I understand the situation. When you say the employee is "eligible for 80 hours on January 1st," what do you mean by that? Do you mean that the yearly cap has gone up, or that they have a new opportunity to accrue vacation hours? When is the employee taking the 30 hours--on December 31st, or in the next year?

Perhaps you can re-explain the scenario in different words. Thank you very much and I look forward to assisting you.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
We allow qualified employees to take the amount of hours they would accrue through out the calendar year any time after January 1st. You could say they are getting them in advance. A full time employee would have 80 hours for that calendar year. In the event the employee had hours left December 31st, would he/she lose the hours on January 1st when the receive another 80 hours being their vacation accrual cap and would they lose the pay or after using some of the new 80 hours would they get the other hours back up to the vacation accrual cap?
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you very much for your clarification. I believe I now understand the situation better.

Vacation hours are unique in that the Labor Department regards XXXXX XXXXX "wages earned." Earned wages cannot be forfeited, and so accrued vacation can never be lost--the employee must either be allowed to take it or must be "cashed out" for the value of that time.

Although vacation hours cannot be forfeited, employers CAN put caps on the amount of vacation an employee can earn. Of course, the caps cannot be retro-active, otherwise that would essentially amount to a forfeiture of hours already earned. But with regard to caps, an employer is free to instate them to put a limit on how much more an employee can accrue forward onward.

All of this is to say that an employee under the circumstance you describe would not "lose" their 80 hours after December 1st--they would simply lose the ability to accrue further hours and remain at their 80 until any or all of those hours were used. If all of the new 80 hours for the next year are awarded on the 1st of the year and not gradually throughout the year, this would mean that the employee would miss out on the opportunity to earn any further hours if they were maxed out on that day. The "window" to earn the hours, so to speak, would have already passed.

The short end of it is this: an employer is free to institute any policy and impose any conditions it wants with regard to vacation hours. The only requirement is that earned vacation is not forfeited. Everything else is up to how the employer wants to structure it.

I sincerely XXXXX XXXXX this information helps you and I wish you the best.

If you do not have any further concerns, I would be very grateful if you would give my answer a positive rating and click submit, as this is the only way I will receive credit for assisting you. If you have any additional concerns that you would like me to address, please feel free to let me know by hitting the REPLY or CONTINUE CONVERSATION button and I will be more than happy to continue assisting you.

Finally, please bear in mind that none of the above constitutes legal advice nor is any attorney client relationship created between us.

Thank you and very kindest regards.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 7342
Experience: Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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