Can your employer use your vacation time instead of your sick time without your knowledge?

UPDATED: Feb 25, 2016

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Can your employer use your vacation time instead of your sick time without your knowledge?

I was sick so I have medical excuse from work but they use my vacation time instead

of my sick time. Can they do that?

Asked on February 25, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

PTO (e.g. vacation or sick time) is a discretionary benefit. This means that an employer need not legally provide it. Therefore, to the extent that it does, typically it has a great deal of say over when, how or even if it may be used. This includes using sick time instead of vacation. So unless there exists state law to the contrary, this action was legal. Also, this treatment would be illegal if it violated the terms of a union agreement or employment contract or constitued a form of legally actionable discrimination.

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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