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After I leave my job, do I still get paid for my unused earned vacation or sick time?

In Illinois, a former employee is entitled to collect the monetary equivalent of his/her vacation time earned as long as the employment contract, agreement, or policy states that they may do so. If the employer never agreed to pay the employee at the time of separation, they are not required to do so. However, oral promises, handbooks, a written note, and uniform patterns of practice may create a duty to pay the monetary equivalent of earned vacation time. It makes no difference whether you are fired or you voluntarily leave employment.   

A contract or policy may require an employee to take vacation by a certain date or they will lose the vacation time, provided the employee was given a reasonable opportunity to take the vacation. The employer must show that the employee had notice that their vacation time would eventually expire. An employer may also set up a plan that states that vacation time is only earned after so many months of service. On this point, there is no difference between sick days and vacation time, only “paid days off” which are treated as earned vacation days.

No matter which policy is put in place, the employer must keep accurate records of the number of vacation days earned each year and the dates vacation days were taken and paid.

Claims for vacation or sick pay must be brought within three years from the date the time off is earned. If you have any questions about unused vacation days or sick time or other employment law questions, contact McCarthy, Callas & Feeney at 309-788-2800 in Rock Island, Illinois. We are happy to address your legal concerns.


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