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What to Do with Your Unused Vacation Days in New York State

Updated: Feb 29

New York PTO laws and pay outs: what to do with your unused vacation days

Am I stuck with use-it-or-lose-it?

Can I get a payout?

What if my boss and I have a dispute over my unused PTO?

Do you have questions about regulations regarding unused vacation days in New York State? Keep reading to learn more about the NY laws surrounding vacation time off and how you can get a cash advance on your unused PTO. 

Table of Contents

PTO: Employer Requirements in New York

Under state law, employers in New York must provide sick leave, but they do not necessarily have to provide vacation leave. 

Employers who maintain five or more employees, or have a net income of over $1 million, are legally obligated to provide paid sick and safe leave to their employees.  

An employee qualifying for this leave may take PTO for sick leave relating to physical or mental health, including preventative and diagnostic care. They may also take PTO for safe leave if they or a family member has been the victim of domestic violence. 

The employee is to be paid their normal rate of pay for any PTO, or the current minimum wage rate, whichever is greater.  At the minimum, each employee accrued sick and safe leave at a rate of one hour of PTO for every thirty hours worked. 

This law applies to all private-sector employees in New York State, regardless of their occupation, industry, part-time or overtime exempt status.

Establishing a policy other than sick leave is done at the employer’s discretion.

New York State Paid Vacation Leave Laws

In the state of New York, neither public nor private employers are legally required to offer paid vacation leave. This allows businesses to exercise complete discretion when it comes to establishing a vacation policy. 

If an employer does choose to offer paid vacation time, however, they may be required to pay the unused time to the employee once they leave the company, either voluntarily or involuntarily.

This is true unless the company has a formal, written policy that specifically forfeits the employee's right to be paid for unused vacation. If the company’s vacation policy is silent on the issue, the accrued vacation time must be paid out at the end of employment, and failing to do so is a form of wage theft.

Employers who choose to offer vacation leave to their employees, whether paid or unpaid, are required to comply with established company policy, the employment contract, and appropriate state laws.

Accrual System

While it is not required by law in New York State, the use of an accrual system is a common practice among many businesses. 

The accrual system is typically based on the pay period and, in general, employers are free to design their own systems for vacation accrual, such as: 

  • Weekly

  • Biweekly

  • Semimonthly; or 

  • Monthly  

Employers are allowed to cap the amount of accrual vacation time their employees earn throughout the year, but they are required to inform the employees of the policy details beforehand. 

Statutory Provisions

Employers are not allowed to change their policies without notice. If an employer chooses to offer paid vacation time, they must adhere to their stated policy or agreement as outlined in the employee contract.

Vacation Leave Quota

There is no quota for vacation leave in New York State since state law doesn’t require public or private employers to provide paid or unpaid vacation leave. 

Employers are, however, allowed to provide their employees with vacation time, and they commonly do. The average worker in New York receives 11.4 days of paid vacation each year. 

This amount may vary depending on:

  • Location

  • Industry; and 

  • Amount of time the employee has been with the company

6 FAQs About New York State Unused Vacation Days

When it comes to vacation days, it’s important to use the PTO days you can. But what about the days you aren’t able to use? 

At Sorbet, we believe time off is money and if you’re not going to use those days, you may as well be turning them into cash. 

Sorbet’s cash advance lets you access the cash value of your unused PTO today, instead of waiting until you leave your company. 

Schedule a demo today!

#1: Are New York State Employers Required To Pay Unused PTO? If So, When Are They Required To Pay It?

If an employee has unused vacation time when they resign or are terminated from a company, they may be entitled to receive payment for that time. 

In general, New York employers are required to pay out any unused PTO an employee has accrued unless the company has a formal, written policy that specifically forfeits the employee’s right to be paid. 

However, if the company’s PTO policy is silent on the issue, the employee’s accrued PTO must be paid out at the end of their employment. Failure to do so is considered wage theft.

#2: Can Workers Roll Over Unused Vacation Leave?

A PTO rollover means that you’re taking your unused vacation days (or a portion of your days) and carrying them forward into the next year. 

Since employers in the state of New York are not required to offer paid vacation leave, the policy for carrying over unused vacation days will vary from company to company.

#3: Does New York Have a Use-It-or-Lose-It Vacation Policy?

A “use it or lose it” policy forbids a company’s employees from rolling over earned, unused vacation from one year into the next. Therefore, any unused vacation time the employee may have at the end of the year is lost. 

A use-it-or-lose-it vacation policy is allowed in the state of New York, as long as employees are informed about it in advance. 

#4: Are Employers Required To Pay Out Unused Vacation Days When Employees Resign or Are Discharged?

Whether an employer is required to pay for its employee's unused vacation time In the case of resignation or discharge depends upon the terms of their company policies, specifically the policies for vacation and/or resignation.

According to the ruling in Glenville Gage Company, Inc. vs. Industrial Board of Appeals of the State of New York, the employer must have notified employees in writing. If an employee has earned vacation time and there is no written forfeit policy, the employer must pay the employee for the accrued vacation.

The circumstance surrounding an employee’s departure from a company only impacts their right to a paid out if it is specified in the company policy or employment contract.  For example, if the policy or contract states that employees are only paid for unused time in the case of a layoff but not if they quit or are terminated, those rules apply.

#5: How Should Employers and Employees Deal With Disputes About Unused PTO?

When encountering a dispute over unused PTO, the first course of action is for both parties to review the employee's contract and the company’s policies regarding paid time off. This will help uncover any limitations regarding when/if money is owed and what procedures must be followed to receive it, such as giving notice of resignation. 

If either party fails to comply, it may impact their rights should they decide to take their case to court. 

If this does not resolve the dispute, the parties may choose to seek legal counsel.

To be proactive in avoiding disputes about unused PTO, employers should consult an attorney ahead of time to draft a written policy (or review their existing one) to ensure that it accurately reflects their policy regarding PTO and complies with any laws. 

#6: What Are the Best Ways To Spend Unused PTO?

Request a Rollover of PTO

If you are an employee whose company allows you to roll over your unused PTO at the end of each year, putting in for a rollover can be another great option. 

This means you get to decide what to do with your days and can use them in the coming year in the way that best meets your personal needs and schedule.

Depending on your company’s policy, you can spread your days out throughout the entire year or take them in a larger chunk. 

Donate PTO

When they hear the term ‘donating PTO’ many people think of donating a portion of their unused paid time off to a coworker. While some companies allow this practice, others may not.

If you find your policy prohibits this type of PTO donation, there’s another option. 

With Sorbet’s PTO cash advance, you can exchange your unused PTO for a cash advance and donate the value of your PTO to your favorite charity.

Trade PTO for Other Perks

You don't want or need to take paid time off? No problem. 

Sorbet enables you to trade your unused PTO for other perks. Simply put your PTO cash advance towards something you’ll use, like:

  • A gym membership

  • Subscription to a food delivery service; or

  • A shopping spree

Access PTO Cash Value as It’s Accrued

At Sorbet, we think the best thing you can do with your unused PTO is turn it into cash-in-hand.

Instead of waiting to get paid for your PTO when you leave your company, Sorbet makes a way for you to assess the cash value of your PTO as you accrue it and advance the cash value of your unused PTO — without dipping into your paycheck.


Instead of feeling forced to use your PTO, you could cash in your days and use the extra funds to treat yourself to a spa day or weekend getaway. 

Maybe you decide to use the money to take care of some much-needed home repairs or pay off your child's braces. 

A new grill for your patio? A night on the town? 

With a cash advance from Sorbet, the possibilities are virtually endless. 

Can’t Use All Your PTO? Let Sorbet Help You Turn Unused PTO Into Cash

Do you have more unused PTO than you know what to do with?

Get a PTO cash advance with Sorbet!  

It’s super easy with these steps:

  1. Use Sorbet’s free calculator to calculate the value of your unused PTO.

  2. Apply. It’s risk-free, and you can change your mind during the application process.

  3. Get paid. You’ll receive your funds on a prepaid Sorbet Visa card in just 1-5 business days.

You’ll pay a small monthly interest payment and then repay the full amount either at the end of the term or when you receive your payout from your employer.

Let Sorbet help you take charge of your PTO and put it to work for you.

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