Massachusetts law about vacation leave

A compilation of laws, case law, web sources, 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.

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

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 case law

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.

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.”

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.

Paid vacation: What are your rights?,

Small Necessities Leave Act, Maternity Leave Act, and other miscellaneous statutes governing time off, Conn Kavanaugh Rosenthal Peisch & Ford, LLP.
See Section IX: Time off related to working schedules (vacations).

Print sources

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.


Last updated: December 29, 2022

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