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Does your employer have to offer you paid vacation days?

Given the value of the professional services that you provide, when you enter the workforce in Kansas City, you likely expect prospective employers to offer you benefits in an attempt to recruit and/or retain you. One such benefit that has become a standard expectation is paid vacation days. The fact that many employers offer them may lead you to believe that the law requires that they do so. Not only that, you (like many others) may believe that you are entitled to cash out your unused vacation days at the end of the year, or at the very least, roll them over into the next year. Yet is this true? 

The Fair Labor Standards Act (the federal law regulating employer wage guidelines) places no requirement on employers to offer paid vacation days. Legally, these are viewed solely as an added employee benefit. Similarly, the Missouri Department of Labor states that local employers are not legally required to offer this benefit. Most do simply because it may serve as an incentive to draw you to a company or as a way to encourage you and your coworkers to work towards achieving a healthier work-life balance. 

Along these same lines, even if your employer does offer paid vacation days, the law does not require that it pay out the value of any unused days annually or upon termination of your employment (nor does it prevent it from enacting an annual "use it or lose it" policy). You can, however, seek to be compensated for your unused vacation days through a civil action should you so choose. And while the law does not prevent employers from only offering such a benefit to certain employees, you can cite discrimination if it is denied to you due to your race, sex, age or ethnicity. 

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