Every person who works will leave a job at least once in their career. But what happens to your pay if you quit without notice? What about if you’re fired? Is your employer required to pay you for unused vacation or sick leave? Fortunately, Wisconsin has strong statutory protections to ensure that workers are paid what they are owed.

Employers Must Pay All Earned Wages

No matter how you are leaving your job, your employer must pay you for all work you perform, up to your last day of work. Wisconsin law requires an employer to pay an employee all wages earned within 31 days of when they were earned. This means that an employer cannot refuse to give you your final paycheck for any reason, regardless of the circumstances. This law applies in all circumstances–if you quit with notice, if you quit without notice, if you are laid off, or if you are fired for any reason.

Employers May Be Required to Pay Accrued Paid Time Off

Employees often leave jobs with some amount of accrued paid time off, such as vacation time or sick leave. The law does not automatically require employers to allow employees to “cash out” their accrued paid time off when they leave a job. But if an employer has a policy or practice that allows employees to cash out accrued paid time off, then Wisconsin law treats the value of that accrued paid time off as earned wages, and the employer is required to pay employees for that time according to the employer’s policy.

For example, an employer might have a policy allowing employees to cash out their accrued vacation time when they leave employment unless they are terminated for misconduct. If an employee decided to quit without giving notice, the employer could not refuse to cash out the employee’s vacation time under Wisconsin law, because the employee is considered to have earned the right to cash out their vacation time under the employer’s policy.

Note that a cash-out policy does not have to be written down–it can be established by practice, as well. In the example above, the employer’s written policy allows employees only to cash out their vacation time, not accrued sick leave. But if the employer has a history of also allowing employees to cash out their sick leave, then its employees have just as much of a right to cash out their sick leave as they do to cash out their vacation time.

Other Types of Compensation

Other types of compensation such as commissions and bonuses can be more complicated. These payments may be considered earned wages under Wisconsin law, but whether these payments are owed when you leave your job is usually heavily dependent on the specific facts of your job. Consulting with an employment attorney can help you determine whether you are owed commissions, bonuses, or other incentives.

Get Help

Hawks Quindel attorneys have extensive experience in helping employees recover what they are owed when they leave their jobs. If you recently left a job and think that your employer may not have paid you everything you were owed, or if you’re considering leaving your job and want to know your rights, contact a Hawks Quindel attorney for a consultation.

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