Employee Rights Update – Accrued Vacation, Workplace Safety, & Drug/Alcohol Testing

In this segment of ‘Weekly Employee Rights Update’, we aim to provide our employee subscribers with timely educational information from recent cases and laws.

Accrued Vacation: As summer commences, here are some employee rights tidbits related to the summer season. Let us begin with everyone’s favorite summer pastime – vacation. If you have accrued vacation, that time is considered a form of earned wages and may never be lost or recaptured by your employer. In addition, if you quit, or are terminated, your employer must pay you all of your unused accrued vacation time based on your current rate of pay. Employees have a right to accrued vacation time going back their entire employment (unless the employer has a company-wide cap). This means that your final paycheck, which is immediately due upon termination, must include all of your wages and unused accrued vacation. If you quit, instead of being laid off, as long as you give your employer at least a 72 hour notice, the employer must provide you with your final check on your last day of work. For more information, see California’s Department of Industrial Relations Vacation information.

Heat Illness Protection: As of last month, if employees work outdoors in the hot California sun, especially in certain industries as agriculture, construction, landscaping or transportation, there are state standards requiring employers to provide shade, an Injury and Illness Prevention Program, water, first aid, and emergency response. See the Department of Industrial Relations Heat Illness site for more info. Violations of these laws create opportunities for penalties on infringing employers.

Drug/Alcohol Testing: If during your vacation, you participate in drug usage or alcohol consumption, your employer must have a reasonable suspicion of such use/consumption before testing you for drugs or alcohol. Of course, there are narrow exceptions to this law for employees with jobs that are heavily regulated or may cause public safety issues. See the California Employment Development Program page for details on use of intoxicants and drug testing.

If you believe that you have suffered an employment law matter related to pay, illegal drug testing, unsafe working conditions, or even retaliation for notifying your employer of your rights related to the above, prompt action to preserve your rights is critical. Contact the experienced employment law attorneys at Stephen Danz & Associates for a free consultation to discuss your circumstances and legal options. See these other award-winning Blogs for more information.