Can HR decide on their own to pay you with pto instead of regular pay?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can HR decide on their own to pay you with pto instead of regular pay?

So on one occasion I noticed in my pay stub i had 8hrs vacation used in my ytd
column. But I have never asked or taken vacation. And today black friday I
was scheduled to work an event that other departments and even the company as
a whole had the day off, But it’s a specific event that I have to operate.
The HR lady was in the office, asked why I was there then said she was going to
use a vacation day for me because I wasn’t supposed to work something she has
no control over scheduling or events.

Is it legal for HR in California to just decide on her own that my pay for
working this event thats been scheduled for months is coming from vacation time
not hourly?

Asked on November 25, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

No, it is illegal if they used your vacation time instead of paying you for a day your had to work: if you work, even if you are the *only* employee working, you have to be paid for it--that's the law, and HR has no discretion to do otherwise. If they won't restore the used hours and pay you, you could file a complaint with the state department of labor and/or sue, though a good first step would be to take the issue internally to upper management to see if someone will overrule HR without having to take legal action.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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