Massachusetts law about vacation leave

Laws, select cases, web and print sources on vacation leave from your job.

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Massachusetts laws

There is no law that requires an employer to give you vacation time.

MGL c. 149, § 148 Payment of wages
If an employer offers any holiday or vacation payments to an employee as part of an oral or written agreement regarding their employment, these payments will be considered as wages under this law. When an employee leaves their position, their accrued vacation time will be included in their final paycheck and will be paid to them at the time designated by this law depending on whether they resigned or were discharged. 

MGL c. 149, § 150 Complaint for violation of certain sections; defenses; payment after complaint; assignments; loan of wages to employer; civil action
The Attorney General may make complaint or seek indictment for anyone who violates MGL c. 149, § 148 and employees who prevail in this action shall be rewarded treble damages as well as litigation costs and attorneys’ fees. 

MGL c. 41, § 111E Vacation pay for terminated employees
Conditions: If an employee is terminated from their job "through no fault or delinquency on his part or by resignation, retirement or death," they shall be paid at their usual rate for any unused vacation they have accumulated.

Selected cases

Electronic Data Systems Corp. v. Attorney General & another, 454 Mass. 63 (2009) 
The Wage Act (MGL c.149, § 148
) requires “the employee to be paid for unused vacation time remaining at the time of his involuntary discharge.”

Dixon v. City of Malden, 464 Mass. 446 (2013)
A terminated employee was not paid for accrued vacation time, but the employer did continue to pay salary and benefits for a period of time after the termination. While this compensation “did not provide a substitute for payment for accrued vacation time” under MGL c.149, § 148, the employer did consequently pay employee litigation costs and reasonable attorney fees according to MGL c.149, § 150. The total compensation did not entitle the employee to damages.

Mass. v. Morash, 490 U.S. 107 (1989)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that employers who choose to provide paid vacation to their employees must treat those payments like any other wages under MGL c.149, § 148.

Web sources

Attorney General's advisory on vacation policies, Mass. Attorney General, 1999. 
Provides guidance to employers on establishing appropriate policies for vacation time, including whether employers can cap the accrual of vacation time or ask an employee to forfeit their earned wages and vacation time. 

How other leave and benefits can affect your Paid Family and Medical Leave, Department of Family and Medical Leave. 
Benefits from other government or employer private leave programs (such as vacation leave) may impact your Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML).

Paid vacation: What are your rights?,

Vacation accrual while on workers' compensation, Department of Industrial Accidents. 
Whether you continue to accrue vacation time or not while out on a work-related injury is up to your employer.

Vacation leave, U.S. Department of Labor. 
Lists resources and regulations regarding federal laws about vacation leave.

Print sources

Employment Law, 3rd ed. (Mass Practice v. 45) West Group with supplement. Section 16:4.

Labor and employment in Massachusetts, LexisNexis, Section 2-2[i] VACATIONS.

Massachusetts employment law, MCLE, Chapter 14.4.4(e) Holiday and Vacation Pay.

What to do about personnel problems In Massachusetts, BLR, V1-V6 Vacations (1986-2022).

Contact   for Massachusetts law about vacation leave

Last updated: February 15, 2024

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