Should My Ex-boss Pay My Vacation?


My ex-boss owes me vacation pay for two weeks. When I got fired, he promised to pay us two full weeks vacation. There was no contract, but she did agree to pay us. I got fired 1 month before my 1-year anniversary. Should I still get paid for the accumulative vacation wages?


No Pay, No Vacation


Dear No Pay, No Vacation:

Have you spoken with your ex-employer about this matter; first with your ex-boss and then with your personnel office? Whether you are entitled to get paid based on accumulated vacation time probably depends on several factors. Our site does not give legal advice, but to the best of my knowledge U.S. employers don’t have to offer paid or unpaid vacation time or even any vacation. The reason they do is to make working in their company attractive and competitive with other employers that do. A site that provides this kind of information is Why you got fired might affect whether your ex-boss and his/her superiors will make a genuine effort to give you the benefit of a doubt if you were one week short of vacation time based on working there for one year. Hopefully you can meet with your ex-employer to resolve this to your satisfaction; but is not the more important thing to find new employment and to learn if you are entitled to unemployment compensation? This too is beyond our site’s ability to give information. State and federal laws come into play. Being fired is rarely pleasant; however, if you know that you did good work, when meeting with your ex-boss do not hesitate to ask for a letter of recommendation. And as you seek and find work elsewhere think of it as making of a career, not just a job. Work is work and earns pay. A job is just a job until and if you feel you are doing more than putting in hours and sweat. Even dirty and boring jobs are necessary and can be important if you know you are both earning a living and are one part of a workplace that is important to business and not harming the environment. So although you have not asked for career advice, it is my hope that you will not let this firing sour you, but serve as a learning experience. Even learning about the kind of work that is not suited to your talent and interests is a step forward to finding work that you do not hate and possibly can love. You might now know if you need more job training or education to qualify you for the good paying jobs. Also even if your ex-boss and employer were bad, you have learned to seek employment with a workplace that is known to be worker-friendly, and/or you have learned the importance of why workers have unions. Perhaps you have also learned the importance of building good working relationships with co-workers and your boss and how good it is to work with others that are considerate of one another. Of course getting vacation time you think is deserved is now on your mind and should be attended to, but do not obsess about it. In the long haul, are there not more important things on which to focus?

Our site is committed to helping both those who boss and who are bossed to shape good careers and their workplaces to be great places to work. If you can see your self that way, you will know what I mean when I sign off this way: Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS.

William Gorden