Even with all the federal and state regulations in place to address wage and hour issues, disputes are common. Employees who feel they are being denied their right to promised vacation pay need strong, knowledgeable legal counsel. If you are an employee in this situation in Chicago or surrounding counties, the skilled employment attorneys at Foote, Mielke, Chavez & O’Neil, LLC are here to help with your unpaid vacation case.
Although Illinois employers are not required to provide paid vacation time to their employees, many still do. This is in employers’ best interests since offering paid vacations keeps their businesses competitive, makes them more attractive to top-notch employees, and boosts morale and productivity among their staff. But what about when employees leave the company with unused vacation time? This is often where wage and hour disputes arise.
If you are an employee who is being denied earned vacation pay or an employer who is uncertain about your obligation to pay unpaid vacation time, contact our law team to get your questions answered and your rights protected. Among other necessary information, it is essential to know that even though vacation pay is an optional offering, once employers commit to it, the law requires them to fulfill their promises.
What Illinois Law Says About Unpaid Vacation
Under the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act (WPCA), when an employee resigns or is terminated without having taken all earned vacation time, he or she must be paid the monetary equivalent of that unused time as part of final compensation. Moreover, the employee must be paid at his final rate of pay.
During this period of unemployment, while you are without a paycheck, is no time to be cavalier about demanding what is owed to you. Unless you were informed of your employer’s written vacation policy to the contrary, the company owes you for vacation days you never used. Denying you your earned money is a form of wage theft. Our accomplished wage theft attorneys will fight vigorously to make sure you receive just treatment.
Rules Governing Paid & Unpaid Vacation in Illinois
While it may seem that employers always have an edge in the employment picture, there are times when employees may have more leverage than they realize. At Foote, Mielke, Chavez & O’Neil, we are dedicated to making all our clients fully aware of their rights as well as their obligations.
Because Illinois state law does not require employers to offer paid vacation, business owners have a great deal of leeway in deciding which of their employees are eligible for this benefit. In most cases, employers only provide vacation pay for full-time employees. It is important, however, to remember that no matter how much power employers have, they are forbidden by law to make employment decisions, about vacation or any other matters, that violate local, state, or federaI discrimination laws.
Rights Employers Retain in Determining Vacation Protocol
Nonetheless, employers do have the freedom to decide how their employees will accrue vacation time and how many days off they will be given. Often, there is a commonality in the way a vacation is provided in particular industries or in particular regions. While two weeks of vacation per year is considered standard, some companies offer more and some offer considerably less.
A number of businesses have policies in which an employee accrues one vacation day per month or one day after working a certain number of hours during a set period. In some cases, employees may earn more vacation time the longer they work at the company. Employers also have the right to cap the amount of vacation time one employee may accrue.
Employers can also insist that employees:
- Make vacation requests a certain number of days or months in advance
- Limit the number of days they are allowed to take at one time
- Limit the period during which vacation time may be taken
(e.g. not during the company’s busiest season)
- Impose a waiting period after hire before employees are permitted
to take vacation days, typically 3 to 6 months
If you are an employee who feels you are being cheated out of earned vacation time, or an employer who feels you are being taken advantage of, get in touch with our unpaid vacation attorneys. We will listen carefully to your concerns, discuss your options, and if necessary fight vigorously for your rights in court.
What Foote, Mielke, Chavez & O’Neil Can Do to Help with Your Unpaid Vacation Case
In many cases, though you are legally in the right, the amount you are owed in unpaid vacation is not sizable enough to warrant the expense of a lawsuit. Wage and hour claims, however, can be brought as a class or collective action. If you are representing an entire class of workers who have suffered similar losses, the combined value of all losses will likely make a lawsuit feasible.
You May Be Entitled to More Compensation than You Anticipate
Once our unpaid vacation attorneys take on your case, we will fight for you to receive more than just the amount you are owed as unpaid vacation. You may very well be entitled to “liquid damages” for breach of contract as well.
Liquid damages are designed to compensate you for intangible losses, such as inconvenience, time lost fighting a legal battle, and emotional anguish. Liquidated damages can amount to 100 percent of your unused vacation pay.
Don’t Let Yourself Be Bullied — Contact Our Experience Unpaid Vacation Attorneys
If you have resigned or been terminated, you may be tempted to just wash your hands of the old company and seek a new workplace. Nonetheless, be aware that if you are owed unpaid vacation days, you are most likely legally entitled to be paid for those days. Contact us soon so that we can begin fighting for your rights.