Understanding PTO and Vacation Pay Rights in Florida

Do Companies Have to Pay Out PTO in Florida

Some people new to the workforce in Florida are surprised to learn their employer doesn’t provide paid time off (PTO). Many workers who have paid time off are surprised to learn that private employers are not required to pay for any accrued vacation time or accrued sick leave.

On the other hand, if your employer tells you your job comes with paid vacation and that they will compensate you for unused vacation pay, then they can be required to do so.

It’s important to understand the employee benefits package available to you as an employee. These benefits may include paid time off and payment of accrued vacation pay upon termination. An experienced Tallahassee unpaid wages attorney at Cruz Law Firm, P.A., can help you understand your rights and hold your employer to the terms of an employment contract or workplace policies regarding accrued paid time off. Contact an experienced employment law attorney at Cruz Law Firm in Tallahassee today for a confidential conversation about your rights and legal options.

Company Discretion on PTO Payouts

Paid time off from a job may be designated as vacation days, sick leave, personal days, or other types of leave. Some companies allow a certain number of personal days each calendar year to be used for any type of nonmandatory leave, such as personal time off or bereavement leave. Typically, the number of leave days accrued each year increases as an employee reaches employment longevity milestones, such as at 5 years, 10 years, and 15 years of employment.

Facing Arbitrary PTO Payouts? Reach Out to Us Today (850) 701-8838

PTO Payouts in Florida

Do companies have to pay out PTO? Florida state law does not require private employers to offer vacation pay and provide paid holidays. However, many Florida employers recognize the value of providing paid leave and paid holidays to recruit and retain employees and avoid worker burnout.

According to one report, nearly a third (31%) of U.S. employees do not get paid leave.

No Florida law requires PTO, and no law imposes a legal obligation on Florida employers to pay accrued PTO for unused vacation time or sick leave. However, many employment contracts do have provisions for paid vacation time and sick leave, and payment of unused time.

When employers offer PTO, the policies for unused vacation accrual vary. The range from “use it or lose it,” meaning unused leave time disappears at the end of the year, to policies that allow employees to carry forward unused sick leave or paid vacation to the next year.

For example, some private employers allow employees to accumulate up to six months of unused sick leave or PTO. Some company policies include an accrual cap on unused vacation days or paid time off PTO.

Some companies will pay out unused vacation at year’s end or pay out accrued leave or unused vacation time upon termination when employment ends.

Some companies offer unlimited PTO, allowing workers to take as much or as little time off with pay as they want. As of 2023, only 4 percent of employers offer unlimited PTO, but 20 percent of companies in the tech, media, and finance industries reported providing unlimited paid time off.

Florida and Federal FMLA Requirements

Florida employers are bound by federal law that makes unpaid leave time available to eligible employees.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires employers to provide eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave or paternity leave for the birth or adoption of a child, for an employee’s serious illness, or to care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition.

Employees are eligible for family leave if they have worked for their employer at least 12 months and at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months, and work at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles.

Navigating PTO Payouts Upon Employment Termination

As a separating employee, you may be entitled to payment for unused paid time off you have accrued if:

  • Your employer promised or contractually agreed to pay you for unused PTO upon your separation from employment.
  • Your employer has a written policy or past practice of paying out PTO benefits for accrued time or earned vacation to separated employees upon their termination or resignation from employment.
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An Employment Law Attorney Can Help You Seek a Promised PTO Payout

If you believe your employer owes you for earned vacation days or unused time off, you should gather supporting documents such as your employment contract, hiring letter, and employee handbook and speak with an employment law attorney. At Cruz Law, our knowledgeable attorneys can review your employer’s policies and evaluate how the wage and hour laws apply to your situation. We can determine whether you have a right under federal or state law to file a complaint with the appropriate government agencies and/or pursue a lawsuit.

Our attorneys represent hardworking employees in Tallahassee, Jacksonville, and across the Florida Panhandle. Contact a Tallahassee unpaid wages lawyer with our law firm today.

At Cruz Law Firm, P.A., we represent employees in Tallahassee, Jacksonville, and throughout the Florida Panhandle. We’ll fight to protect your employment rights, from workplace discrimination and sexual harassment to wrongful termination and whistleblower claims. Let us put our experience to work for you.