In Virginia, employers are not required to provide employees with vacation benefits, either paid or unpaid. If an employer chooses to provide such benefits, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract.
An employer must pay an employee for accrued vacation upon separation from employment if its policy or contract provides for such payment.
Neither Virginia’s Legislature nor its courts have given any significant guidance regarding other potential vacation policy issues. They are silent regarding whether an employer may:
- establish a policy or enter into a contract denying employees payment for accrued vacation leave upon separation from employment,
- deny payment for accrued vacation to an employee upon separation from employment if its policy or contract is silent on the matter,
- require an employee to comply with specific requirements to qualify for payment of vacation leave upon separation from employment, such as giving two weeks notice being employed as of a specific date of the year,
- cap the vacation leave an employee may accrue over time,
- implement a “use-it-or-lose-it” policy requiring employees to use their leave by a set date or lose it.
Although Virginia’s authorities are silent regarding many vacation policy issues, based on the contractual emphasis Virginia has placed on vacation policies, an employer is likely free to implement the vacation policy of its choosing. An employer is required to comply with the terms of the policy it chooses to implement.
Virginia law does not require employers to provide employees with sick leave benefits, either paid or unpaid, except for certain home health workers. VA Statute 40.1-33.3 to 33.6 If an employer chooses to provide sick leave benefits, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract.
An employer in Virginia may be required to provide an employee unpaid sick leave in accordance with the Family and Medical Leave Act or other federal laws.
Virginia law does not require private employers to provide employees with either paid or unpaid holiday leave. In Virginia, a private employer can require an employee to work holidays.
A private employer does not have to pay an employee premium pay, such as 1½ times the regular rate, for working on holidays, unless such time worked qualifies the employee for overtime under standard overtime laws. If an employer chooses to provide either paid or unpaid holiday leave, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract.
Visit our Virginia State Holidays page for a list of holidays recognized and observed by the state of Virginia as well as information regarding state laws governing holiday leave for public employers and employees.
Jury Duty Leave
An employer is not required to pay an employee for time spent responding to a jury summons or serving on a jury.
An employer may not discharge or take any other adverse action against an employee for receiving and/or responding to a jury summons or for serving on a jury if the employee has given reasonable notice of the summons or jury service.
An employer may not require an employee to take vacation or sick leave when responding to a jury summons or serving on a jury if the employee has given reasonable notice of the summons or jury service.
An employer may not require an employee who is summoned and appears for jury duty for four (4) or more hours in one day, including travel time, to start any work shift that begins on or after 5:00 p.m. on the day of his appearance for jury duty or begins before 3:00 a.m. on the day following the day of his appearance for jury duty.
Virginia does not have a law that requires an employer to grant its employees leave, paid or unpaid, to vote.
Virginia law requires an employer to provide an employee time off to serve as an election officer if the employee has given reasonable notice of the need for leave. The leave does not need to be paid, however, an employer may not require an employee that takes time off to serve as an election official to use vacation or sick leave.
If an employee serves as an election officer for four (4) or more hours, including travel time, on a given day, he or she may not be required to start a shift that begins on or after 5:00 p.m. on the day of service as an election official or after 3:00 a.m. on the day following the day of service.
An employer that fails to permit an employee to take time off to serve as an election officer commits a Class 3 misdemeanor. VA Statute 24.2-119.1
Virginia law does not require employers to provide employee bereavement leave. Bereavement leave is leave that is taken by an employee due to the death of another individual, usually a close relative. Employer may choose to provide bereavement leave and may be required to comply with any bereavement policy or practice it maintains.
Family and Medical Leave
Virginia has no state acts or laws that provide employees with additional medical leave or family leave benefits. Employers must provide employees with family and medical leave consistent with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
This act states that any employer in Virginia must comply if they have a minimum of 50 employees for the last 20 weeks during either the current or the previous year. In addition, for an employee to qualify for this FMLA leave, they must have worked at a business that has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius, they must have worked at least 1,250 hours during the previous twelve months, and worked for the same company for at least one year.
An employee may qualify for FMLA leave:
- To bond with a new child
- Recuperate from a serious health condition
- If they are currently extremely ill
- To care for a family member with a serious health condition,
- To care for a family member who has suffered a serious injury or illness during active military duty,
- To handle qualifying circumstances or difficulties arising from a family member’s military service.
Anyone who qualifies for FMLA leave may receive up to 3 months of leave in one year for any of the above reasons. In addition, an employee may take 12 weeks off every year for any of these reasons if they continue to meet eligibility requirements.
Employees may take up to 26 weeks of leave a year to care for a family member injured during active military service. However, this is on a per-service member and per injury entitlement, which means that unless that person is reinjured or a different family member suffers a serious injury during active duty, the employee may not take more time off for this purpose.
During FMLA leave, an employee can continue paying into their healthcare insurance plan, receiving their health insurance, and paying the same cost as while working.
Moreover, although FMLA leave is unpaid, an employee may be required or allowed to use any accumulated paid time during this leave. Finally, at the end of the FMLA leave, an employee has the right to be reinstated at the same or equivalent, barring extenuating circumstances.