Vacation Pay Abuse Under Investigation

Eric Vasquez, a Los Angeles fire captain, has been put on administrative leave because of timecard falsification. He supposedly fabricated timecards in order to earn an excessive amount of vacation pay. According to the Daily News of Los Angeles, Vasquez was given $50,000 in vacation pay in 2010. Vacation pay, as well as bonuses and overtime pay, increased his yearly wages by about $77,000.

Since Vasquez was in charge of manually keeping track of the time sheets for his division, including his own time sheets, it was easy for him to fabricate vacation time. The Los Angeles Fire Department used manual time sheets up until October of 2011, when they finally applied a new system. Consequently, vacation pay problems were discovered when this new electronic payroll system was implemented. Vasquez and 50 other Fire Department employees have allegedly falsified extra vacation time. These other employees, however, did not exceed their accumulated allowance of vacation time as much as Vasquez did. All of these cases, particularly Vasquez’s case, are still under investigation.

Throughout Los Angeles, there have been many cases of city employees committing “timecard abuse.” Thus, the LAFD is not the only city agency under investigation for timecard falsification. Other agencies under investigation include the Department of Building and Safety and the Department of Animal Services.

Vacation pay is an optional employee benefit. Hence, employers are not mandated to offer it to their employees. If an employer does offer vacation pay, then it is necessary for them to set a limit as to how much vacation time an employee may take each year. The LAFD, for instance, allows their employees to accumulate vacation time based on the amount of time they work. In Vasquez’s case, he “would earn 24 days of vacation a year and could accrue a maximum of 48 days.” He significantly exceeded these limits: he claimed 919 hours of vacation pay in 2010 and, up until September of 2011, he claimed 459 hours of vacation pay.

Essentially, vacation pay is a type of wages. If an employer permits paid vacations, then they should include vacation pay regulations as a part of their employment contract. The regulations should involve how much vacation time is offered and how vacation time is accumulated. Ultimately, it is critical for an employer to inform their employees of the vacation pay policy at the beginning of each employment relationship.