Most employers offer some form of paid time off or vacation days to their full-time employees. It is impossible for most workers to remain reasonably productive without being able to take a day or two to recharge, recreate, or even tend to other demands of life. In the state of Illinois, there is no law or statute that requires you, as an employer, to offer vacation or personal days, but if you choose to do so, it is important to apply your policy evenly to all eligible employees and to fully comply with any and all promises you have made to your team.
Policies and Contracts
Whether your vacation policy is listed in each employee’s contract or simply as part of a more general employee handbook, you need to understand exactly what you promising each worker. You have the right to decide how many days of vacation may be earned by an employee based on his or her length of service. It is also within your rights to determine that vacation time must be taken within a certain period of time or be forfeited. If you choose to establish such a policy, however, you will need to be sure to provide your employees the reasonable opportunity to take all earned vacation days.
According to the law in Illinois, a duty to pay the monetary equivalent of earned but unused vacation time can be created in a number of ways. Of course, a contract or handbook are among the most obvious, but oral promises and patterns of behavior may also establish your legal requirement.
Pro Rata Vacation
The law also provides that, when you offer vacation time, it is earned “pro rata” as your employee continues to work for you. For example, if you offer two weeks of vacation each year, an employee who works for six months of that year has earned one week of vacation pro rata, or on a prorated basis. If he or she is fired or separates from your company before taking that time, you are still obligated to pay the monetary equivalent of that earned vacation.
One of the most important steps you can take to protect yourself from unwarranted claims of unpaid vacation is to develop a system for carefully tracking paid time off. You should always be able to access exactly how many days each employee has earned, how many each has taken, and whether payment or other compensation has been made in exchange for any time. If you are ever challenged on such a claim, you will need to be able to show that you have provided reasonable opportunities for your employees to take vacation and that they have been equitable compensated for all earned but unused vacation.
If you need additional guidance regarding labor laws, vacation time, or any other employment-related concerns, contact an experienced Illinois employment law attorney. We can help you protect your business and ensure that all of your employees are being treated fairly, in accordance with state and federal regulations. Call 847-995-1205 to schedule an appointment with The Miller Law Firm, P.C. today.