I received a job offer from another company and I plan to take it. I have 7 vacation days saved at my current company, the last engineer was not credited for his unused vacation days on his final paycheck.

I'm not sure how to take the days off without offending my current company and I don't want to leave on bad terms. Should I try to spread them out? take them all consecutively? or not take any at all?

My notice period is 2 weeks.

  • 6
    Do you care to leave an unburnt bridge behind you? If I despised the place (and likely would despise them if they don't reimburse me for unused PTO) then if it were me I would take a long vacation before putting my notice in. Commented Oct 12, 2012 at 17:17
  • 7
    Check out cs.thomsonreuters.com/support/payroll/terminationstatechart.pdf for your state to see if you are to be paid unused leave time by law. If not, then use them up yourself, and then resign. Be aware that you may be burning some bridges, and only you can decide whether the extra cash is worth the broken bridge or not.
    – Adam Davis
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 17:14
  • 1
    Do you know that he wasn't paid for it at all? My usual experience (in the US) is that I receive a final check after the last paycheck covering any vacation balance due. Could that have happened with him? Commented Dec 1, 2014 at 2:46
  • 2
    Isn't that illegal? If they do not give you your leave pay, report them.
    – pi31415
    Commented Dec 1, 2014 at 3:48

10 Answers 10


Most companies have a policy that you cannot take unused vacation days after you have given notice. I can't see any company allowing you to take those days.

E.g. In the United States, there's no Federal requirement for employers to pay out, but in many states, the companies are required by state law to repay you for unused vacation. You could call your state Labor department if you are in the US and see if they must pay you for the unused days.


  • 22
    just saw this, wow no federal requirement for employers to pay you your vacation days in the US. I am completely stunned. Glad I'm not there.
    – pi31415
    Commented Dec 1, 2014 at 3:49
  • 1
    @pi31415 Most of the states have laws that require employers who provide paid vacation as a benefit to pay the value of the vacation when employment ends. Commented Jul 26, 2018 at 22:20

How about this:

You march up to the Manager/HR and say "Here is my two-week notice, but as it happens I have 7 days of vacation left. How would you like to handle it? Should I just take the two weeks off or would you rather I was reimbursed for them?"

When you're being that explicit and you're putting the ball in their court there is no way you can come off as the bad guy. At the same time, it will be very hard for them to say "Uhh... neither because uhh.. yeah!"

FWIW the situation you are in is not an uncommon occurance. As for the last engineer that did not get paid - perhaps their policy is such that they would rather you hand in your two weeks and actually take them as vacation, but she/he never bothered to ask.

Good luck.

  • 5
    They can say neither, unless by law they must payout which seems rare in the USA.
    – Andy
    Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 2:38
  • FWIW: Straight out of school, I got a temporary job for three months before going to university. Everything went fine. When I finished, I got a letter: I hadn't taken any holiday, so they had to pay me six days of holidays. Because I hadn't taken the holiday, it was overtime paid 50% more. So I received without asking, nine days or almost half a month of pay totally unexpected. This didn't happen in the USA.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Dec 1, 2014 at 14:38
  • 1
    @Andy Feb: Then I can disappear the same day.
    – Joshua
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 16:26
  • It may not be federally required, but I'd say it's unusual for a company not to pay out in the US. I've never came across one that didn't. Commented Feb 10, 2017 at 16:13

I think the best person to take a call on this, after appropriate discussion, is you.

First of all review your country's employment/ethical policy on this issue. Maybe the law of the land does not permit it in the first place. Take appropriate legal advice if you have to.

Talk to your manager. Tell him that you have unused leave and that you plan on taking it if it is OK with him and the team. Give him the pattern of holiday choices you are willing to take. In his role, he will walk you through the company policies regarding this issue since some companies have reservations against people taking paid time off once they have put in their papers.

Talk to the team if they are OK with your plan about the vacation days. If you really value the relations with the team then this would be a important step so that you do not burn any bridges.

If the manager and the team are OK, then you have your answer. The advantage with this approach is: you get the legality of it sorted, you get your manager's consent and hence know your vacation is not offending the management as well as not souring your relationship with the team. An win-win for all.

  • 4
    PTO is a benefit, just like pay. Do you ask your manager and team if its ok for you to cash a paycheck? No! Yes, you should keep your work in mind when taking PTO. But it should ultimately be up to you. Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 18:52
  • Agreed! But benefits are meant for employees so that they CONTINUE to work well and give good productivity at the said company. When you are interested in terminating this relationship, is it right to go AWOL when your team is looking for someone to take your place? Its highly unprofessional. Emergencies are a different matter though.
    – Arpith
    Commented Jun 11, 2015 at 7:12
  • @Arpith: So the company should keep your last pay check as well, since they pay you in order that you come back next month, right? AWOL means "absent without leave". The OP has seven days leave. If a company wants to cheat me out of the pay for 7 days holiday, they will get what they deserve.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Nov 18, 2017 at 14:55
  • Right. But, you also get paid for the earned leave if you haven't availed it before you start serving the notice period (in India, at least). So I'm not entirely sure, how the OP would be "cheated", out of 7 days of leave.
    – Arpith
    Commented Nov 22, 2017 at 9:46

An employer is not entitled to payout any unused vacation or PTO unless it is their policy to do so or you have it stipulated in an employment contract. Most companies have a policy to give an ok not to allow for use of the vacation or PTO while in the resignation period.

I'm not advocating this but I do know this is how several people I know handled it. Most people who can save up their vacation time and bank it do so. Even though it's a cool feature of your employment it can leave you with a large unused benefit, especially if you're terminated in which you would lose it all. Many people I know tell their new employer they need an extended period of time to start their new job to correspond with their time off on the current employer. This is done by obtaining approval for vacation and PTO prior to giving their 2 weeks notice. After properly using the time off then resign the position.

There is good and bad to this. It's good in that you can use your time off and enjoy it prior to starting your new job. The bad is how it would look to your employer when you return and resign. With work possibly piling up while you're gone and then you resigning it could make their preparation for your departure much harder and therefore leave a bad taste in their mouth and put a stain on your record which could make it harder to reapply or return.

In the end I find the method above ethical. It is not dishonest and as long as you follow the rules of your employment I see nothing wrong with it with the caveat that you may burn your bridge to return.


Here In Texas, companies are not required by law to pay you for any unused time unless previously stipulated in your contract. However if your work is what the Texas workforce commission calls an At-will then your company does not have to pay you. I've checked the Texas Workforce Commission's website.

I'm going through this now and have work very hard for this company changing my schedule several times. I work in IT so you know I take a beating, but it's okay because I've found a better job.

I must say that I feel entitled to the time I have saved up. After speaking to several of the managers there that where not my manager, and them telling me that when I resign I will be fired so that i can't take those days was an eye opener. I was told by my confidants that they have walked people out that gave there two week notice and was looking forward to using there vacation. By the way we do have a policy that states that the company does not pay out accrued time.

So I decided to take my vacation and when put in for two weeks of vacation my manager asked me was I going to leave. I replied that I'm always looking for better employment opportunities. After three days into my vacation and HR rep called and informed me that I was suspended. I couldn't believe it. I then called corp and got it straightened out.

So now I'm going to take my vacation and resign the day I go back and that will be my last day.

  • 2
    According to this document found at the Texas Workforce Commission website -No Texas or federal law requires employers to make payouts of accrued but unused paid leave source that contridicts your answer... sorry. Commented Feb 15, 2014 at 8:15
  • 2
    @Chad How does your link contradict this answer?
    – Andy
    Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 2:43

Your best bet here is to negotiate with the company that made you the offer. Tell them that you really hate giving up seven days of vacation, and ask if they could increase your vacation time in your first year.

This is a negotiation, and they have no obligation to do it, but you do actually have leverage with them, where you have none with your current company. If they decline, you could ask if it would be acceptable to push back your start date a few weeks or a month to give you a chance to take some of your days off before giving notice.

But asking for the company to do other than their policy with unused vacation days is a non-starter, and makes you look either greedy or naive. Try to leave well.


This varies significantly according to the company policy. Mostly you'll find it in the company's handbook that is usually given to the employee in his/her first working day. If there is nothing mentioned about this in the handbook, or there is no handbook at all, it's better to approach one of your senior close colleauges rather than HR or your manager.

For example, one of the companies I had worked for (headquarter in UK, Malaysia office), has a policy of reducing your notice period based on the current available leave. That is, assuming you are entitled to 12 day annual leave and you handed in your resignation on the 1st of July, (you are entitled to 6 days leave and you did not use any of them) given your notice period is 1 month; your last working day will be less than that month by the number of working days you have in your annual leave. So it is 6 working days less than a month (e.g. For July/2014, your last working day will be 23rd/July, if you submitted your resignation on the 1st). You cannot work and get paid for these day, nor can you change the resignation date once you informed the manager/hr you are resigning. So approaching the HR is not helpful and might force your resignation earlier than what you have planned on.

  • Not saying it isn't true, but it doesn't make any sense at all. I could understand increasing the notice period so you can both take your holiday, and hand over your work to the next guy in the notice period.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Dec 2, 2014 at 16:42
  • @gnasher729 Some companies might try to extend the notice period to properly hand over work to the next guy, specially in software development. Others, however (specially with big teams where one leaving does not much affect the team performance) see the resigning guy as s/he does not belong anymore, and the sooner s/he leaves the less s/he knows about the company's plans, positions changes ... etc.
    – Hawk
    Commented Dec 3, 2014 at 0:49

You don't want to leave on bad terms. To me, leaving while losing seven days of earned holiday is leaving on very bad terms, for you. Don't do that.

Take your holiday, then give notice. If your current employer is upset because you take the holidays that you earned instead of letting him rip you off, that's his problems.


In addition to HLGEM's answer regarding the required payout of days:

I would never use my vacation as part of my 2 week notice. That notice is there to transfer knowledge and generally ensure a smooth transition. What I've seen people do is when they're talking about how long their notice is, the vacation is factored into that.

Employee: "Are you going to pay out my N days of unused vacation/PTO that I'm owed?"
Manager: "It's not our policy..."
Employee: "Well then I'm putting in my 2 week + N day notice, and I'm probably going to be deathly ill those last N days."

You get the money you want, they get the time they want. No manager wants to go through all of the paperwork and trouble of firing you over a few hundred bucks.

  • 3
    -1 for the suggestion to threaten your employer with taking sick leave. That's like threatening to steal all of the pens from the stationary cupboard if they don't give you what you want!
    – Mark Booth
    Commented Oct 17, 2012 at 16:29
  • 2
    @MarkBooth And employers never threaten people to get what they think they're entitled to...
    – Telastyn
    Commented Oct 17, 2012 at 17:25
  • If an employer threatens you with something which is illegal, they can expect everything that's coming to them. Advising someone to do something which could give their employer a reason to dock their pay and prejudice any subsequent legal claim on that money is really bad advice. Never threaten, never lie, just state your position clearly and make sure everyone understands everyone's rights and responsibilities, that's just basic CYA.
    – Mark Booth
    Commented Oct 19, 2012 at 10:51
  • "No manager wants to go through all of the paperwork and trouble of firing you over a few hundred bucks." Maybe for rational managers, but it's not always true: After taking one job I learned my predecessor was fired on his last day after he had resigned and worked for two weeks. It seems he spent part of his last afternoon day fishing when off site work called for him to go by a lake. The boss was so mad that he changed the guy's termination status to fired.
    – GreenMatt
    Commented May 21, 2013 at 18:07
  • @GreenMatt what difference does that make except for the satisfaction of firing him? Commented Feb 6, 2014 at 10:35

My company pretty much expects this. When planning your departure, you give them your "Termination Date" (the last date you are considered an employee), and a "Last Date Worked" defined as "Your Last Date Worked is the last day you report to work. It can be earlier than your Termination Date if you use approved vacation prior to your Termination Date."

  • This may be true for your company, but can you phrase this in such way that it is useful for any user regardless that it works in your company?
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 23:38

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