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Two days after I was approved for a weeks vacation I got a job offer, which I accepted. On the first day of my vacation I gave my boss my two weeks notice and emailed my resignation letter, because the new job is giving me that long to start. I was then told in order to get paid my unused PTO I would have to come back to work and not take the already approved vacation. The handbook only states a 2 weeks notice has to be given in order to receive your unused PTO. Can they legally not pay it to me if I stay on my vacation and only go back the last week of my notice?

In Texas

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    Contact a lawyer.
    – Donald
    Feb 27 at 0:57

2 Answers 2

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Generally, two weeks notice is understood as two work weeks, to be spent transferring your knowledge and tasks to other employees.

If you aren't willing to do that, in most of the US I don't think there is anything that keeps them from saying "ok, you're fired now; have a nice vacation and don't bother coming back."

I honestly think they are justified in saying that you effectively quit without notice. Whether they still owe you any accrued vacation time, or the value thereof, depends on the details of your contract and how much you have actually accrued. If you didn't carry over days from last year I wouldn't be surprised if only three days or so were actually available at this time of year (start of March). The company will often let you use vacation time before you have actually accrued it that year, but that is a courtesy, NOT a grant of the full two weeks on January 1st.

It would have been good to check these details before you took the actions. A bit late now.

As noted in the comments, if you really want to fight this, get yourself and a copy of your contract to an employment lawyer who knows what the rules are in your area. I don't think you have much chance of obtaining more than those few days of accrued vacation, which may be worth less than the cost and effort of going after them.

Next time you'll know.

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When companies say two week notice they are expecting 10 days of work from you.

You can give notice while you are on leave, but unless you are available to work those 10 days after you get back, then the company will not be pleased.

In some states the law specifies how the payout of unused vacation/PTO will work. This is from the Texas Guidebook for Employers

Accrued Leave Payouts

Payouts of accrued leave are required under the Texas Payday Law only if such a payment is promised by the employer in a written policy or agreement. The payout would be controlled by the wording of the policy or agreement. If no such policy exists, the company would not owe such a payment. A sample policy for accrued leave payouts might look something like this:

  • Unused paid leave is forfeited when an employee separates from employment. However, employees who are laid off for economic reasons, or who resign with at least two weeks' advance written notice, will receive the balance of any unpaid leave remaining at the time of the work separation. Paid or unpaid leave time may not be counted toward such a notice period.

To illustrate, assume that a company has a written policy similar to the above example - on a Wednesday, the employee gives what she says is two weeks' notice ("I'm quitting and taking the final two weeks as vacation"), but admits she's starting a new job on the following Monday. Clearly, that would not be two weeks' notice, since 1) taking a vacation is not the same as working out a notice period and 2) even if she were to work until the new job started, there would not be two weeks of work possible within that time. In such a case, the company could legally deny the accrued leave payout otherwise payable under the written policy.

You will need the exact wording of the company policy to know where you stand.

The general advice when working through the end of employment issues is make sure you understand the dates and the rules regarding leave, insurance, severance, bonus pay and the like before you give notice. It is always better financially to make sure then to be surprised by a deadline.

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