Q: Is unpaid leave equivalent to a separation in employment which would trigger pay out of earned vacation
A: No. The Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act refers to an employee who "resigns or is terminated" as being entitled to receive his or her earned vacation pay. It wouldn't hurt to ask your employer if they'll pay out your vacation pay however. An employer can do it if you're on unpaid leave, he just doesn't have to do it.
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