Yes. An employer is always allowed to pay out vacation days or PTO (paid time off days). Vacation days and PTO days are wages that you have earned but have not been paid for yet. The law requires that these be paid out promptly upon your termination with the company. However, nothing in the law prohibits an employer from paying you these days early or at any other time. For instance, an employer is allowed to pay out all unused vacation at the end of the year. Of course, an employer is not allowed to have a "use it or lose it policy" for vacation. However, paying the vacation out is not a "lose it" policy.
Ultimately, if you want to "save" your vacation days, you can simply take the money the employer pays you for the days you want to take off without pay and put it in the bank. Then, when you take your big vacation, simply take the money out of the bank and "pay yourself" at that time. The result is the same as if the employer had allowed you to take unpaid vacation and allowed you to save up the days for a longer vacation..
Yes. An employer can control when employees take their vacation. Just as an employer can deny a request to take vacation, an employer can require employees to take vacation at certain times and "force" employees to take vacation. This only applies to bona fide vacations. For instance, if your employers tells you "Take a one year vacation," this would be seen as a termination rather than as an actual vacation. If you do not have vacation pay and some portion of the vacation will be unpaid, you may be able to apply for unemployment during that period.
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