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Vacation and Paid Time Off Benefits by State

Author: Christopher B. Kaczmarek, Littler

A private employer is not required by federal or most state law to provide paid or unpaid vacation time. However, if employers choose to provide vacation time as a benefit to employees, they may have certain compliance requirements.

Most employers find that providing vacation helps them stay competitive in attracting new talent and retaining current talent. Some employers choose to use separate vacation policies and sick time policies, while others decide to lump together all paid time off (PTO) benefits.

The following chart helps employers understand whether their jurisdiction allows caps on vacation/PTO accrual and allows use-it-or-lose-it policies. These laws generally apply to all employers that choose to offer vacation or PTO. On the chart, states that have no requirements in these areas regarding vacation and PTO are marked N/A.

Note: A use-it-or-lose-it policy is a policy that requires employees to use their PTO by a certain date or lose it. The term does not refer to policies that require employees to use earned PTO before termination of employment or risk losing it. Information on whether a jurisdiction requires payout of accrued vacation or PTO at termination of employment can be found in Final Wage Payment Requirements by State and Municipality.

This chart includes information based on statutes, published case law and state agency guidance. Whenever there is a citation or link to one of these sources, it means that the information is based on that source. In certain states, there may be unpublished cases or informal guidance materials that address these issues. These are not included in the chart and are instead marked N/A.

Employers that provide PTO that can be used for sick leave purposes must ensure compliance with state and local laws. Since this chart does not cover laws requiring the provision of paid sick leave or other leave, PTO policies should be examined in conjunction with any applicable laws. Additionally, certain states and local jurisdictions have enacted paid leave laws. However, because these laws address mandatory - not voluntary - vacation and/or PTO, they are not included in the chart. For information regarding these laws, please see Paid Sick Leave by State and Municipality and Leave Laws by State and Municipality.