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October 28, 2021 | From the blogUncategorized

When Must Florida Employers Pay Employees for Their Unused Paid Time Off?

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Getting paid for sick, personal, or vacation days is a valuable employee benefit, but generally, employees do not have a right to paid time off in Florida. Furthermore, even if they get paid time off, they may not be entitled to be paid out for any accrued but unused time if their employment ends. There are exceptions to this, so it is important to understand the relevant law.

Is Paid Time Off Required in Florida?

Employers do not have to provide paid time off in Florida under state or federal law unless the employee was granted that right in a contract or employment policy. If employees are entitled to paid time off, failure to pay them as indicated in the contract or policy would constitute a breach of contract.

When Are Employers Required to Pay Out Unused Paid Time Off?

Assuming an employee gets paid time off, there is no Florida state law requiring private employers to pay out accrued paid time off when an employee leaves the job unless there is a contract or policy to the contrary. For example, if an employer promised or contractually agreed to pay out accrued time, including as part of a collective bargaining agreement, it must comply with the language of the agreement. Similarly, if there is an employment policy or past practice that gave employees the right to be paid out, the employer must abide by those terms or practices. These same rules apply to sick leave as well as vacation and personal time offered by private employers.

Public sector rules differ. In Florida, some public employees have the right to be paid out up to 25 percent of their accrued sick leave upon termination or retirement. However, this only applies to accrued sick time, not other paid time off, and the employee cannot have engaged in certain types of misconduct during employment such as theft, embezzlement, or illegal striking.

Some federal employees also are entitled to be paid out for their unused time when they leave employment, but these rules vary depending on the type of employee. Notably, federal contractors do not have to pay out unused paid time off.

How Does Quitting vs. Being Terminated Affect the Right to Be Paid Out for Unused Time?

The manner in which an employee leaves employment only impacts the right to be paid out if that is what is specified in the employment contract or policy. For example, if the contract or policy states that employees are only paid for unused time if they are laid off, but not if they quit or are terminated for cause, then those rules govern.

How Should Employers and Employees Handle Disputes Over Paid Time Off?

Both parties should review the company’s policies, contracts, and practices regarding paid time off. This is important as there may be limitations on when monies are owed and what procedures must be followed, such as giving notice. If either party fails to comply, it will affect their rights.

To avoid disputes, employers should proactively consult an attorney to draft a written policy and/or review an existing one to ensure it accurately reflects their wishes regarding paid time off and complies with any laws. Employment contracts and collective bargaining agreements should also be reviewed in the same way.

If you are involved in a dispute over paid time off or other employee benefit, you should contact a qualified attorney.

Romano Law has broad experience with all types of employment matters including wage disputes, employee handbooks, and employment agreements. Call us for a consultation.


Photo by Roman Bozhko on Unsplash


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