Employers in Colorado do not have to offer paid vacation time to their employees at all. However, should they extend this benefit to their employees, workers need to remember that they may be entitled to compensation for their unused but earned vacation time.
Under Colorado law, employers are free to establish their vacation policies, including terms about how employees can use and earn vacation time. By way of example, many employers allow their workers to use their vacation time before they technically earn it, as workers will typically earn their paid time off month to month, accruing a couple of days each month.
If an employee spends more time than he or she earns and then leaves work mid-year, then the employer has the right to withhold the balance from the final paycheck. However, the opposite is also true. If an employee has, for example, 30 work days of earned vacation time, at the rate of 8 hours a day, then the employer must reimburse 240 hours of pay at the worker's salary.
Unfortunately, especially if an employee leaves on less than amicable terms, many employers in the Denver area may try to get around this rule or even just ignore it outright. In other cases, an employer may try to offer a severance agreement that will leave an employee without the benefit of receiving payments for this time, as whatever lump sum the employer offers is not enough to cover it.
Those workers who feel that their former employers have withheld vacation time that they earned should consider speaking to an attorney with experience handling wage and hour claims.