New Clients Email:

New Clients Email

Unpaid Vacation Time


North Carolina vacation pay laws do not require an employer to provide you with either paid or unpaid vacation time. However, if an employer does have an established policy to provide paid vacation, then that employer has certain responsibilities on how to execute that policy.

Some employers combine vacation and sick leave plans into a “paid time off” (PTO) policy. Typically, employer policy governs paid days in the same way as vacation policies. Whenever the employment relationship ends, if you have not used all of your earned and accrued vacation or “paid time off,” the employer must pay you at your final rate of pay for all of your earned and accrued unused days.

If your employer does provide vacation pay or PTO, the must have a written policy which clearly explains how employees earn and lose that time. North Carolina vacation pay laws consider vacation time or PTO as wages and classifies the time off as labor.

Vacation pay accrues as it is earned and should not be forfeited. Even upon termination of employment, an employer’s the policy has to have provisions in advance that contradict the standard policy. Unlike “sick pay,” the North Carolina Department of Labor says employers must distribute vacation pay upon termination unless the employee agreed to forfeit vacation time beforehand. Further, an employer pays out unused vacation time to the employee at his or her final rate of pay.

Representation for Unpaid Wages

Employers can place restrictions on vacation benefits that prevents you from earning vacation over a certain amount of hours. Further, employers can establish specific periods of time at the beginning of employment during which employees do not earn PTO. Unlike some states, employer policy can even assert that employees forfeit unused vacation hours at the end of the year.

Similar to commissions and bonuses, the law considers vacation pay or PTO as wages. Not paying an employee their wages can have a significant impact on their family’s well being. Therefore employees who have unlawfully had their vacation pay or PTO withheld may be entitled to liquidated damages (“double damages”).

Our firm handles cases on a contingency basis, meaning you don’t pay unless we win. Maginnis Howard handles such cases throughout North Carolina. You can reach us at (919) 526-0450, at, or through our contact page.