Massachusetts Labor Laws about Vacation Time

Massachusetts' Minimum Fair Wage Law dictates the terms of paid vacation pay. While this law does not specifically require employers in the state to provide vacation pay for their employees, it does establish parameters for how vacation pay should be treated if employers elect to provide this benefit.

Identity as Wages

Under Massachusetts law, vacation pay is treated the same as ordinary wages. Therefore, an employer who withholds vacation payments is effectively withholding wages and breaking the law. Employees who have not received the vacation pay they are entitled to have the same rights as they are afforded to pursue an unpaid wage claim.

Accrual of Vacation Time

Employers in Massachusetts are allowed to establish policies that cap the amount of vacation time that an employee can have at any given time. For example, an employer can refrain from providing an employee with more vacation time if he has not used any of the vacation time that he accumulated last year. Under this same system, employers can establish "use it or lose it" vacation pay policies. These types of policies require employees to use their earned vacation time by a specific period of time or the employee will lose all or a portion of the vacation time. However, employers must provide notice to employees informing them of their responsibilities to use their vacation time, or the employer risks having its vacation pay policy invalidated by a court. Employers can opt to allow employees to carry over a certain amount of vacation time.

Vacation Limitations

Employers in Massachusetts can establish limitations and procedures regarding vacation time. For example, they can determine how much vacation time to award and specify the times of the year when employees can take vacation, based on the particular needs of the business. Additionally, employers can require employees to provide a certain amount of notice before they are allowed to take earned vacation time.

Termination of Employment

Upon an employee's termination, the employer must compensate the employee for all vacation time that he has earned to date.