Is docking PTO legal?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Is docking PTO legal?

A memo was dispersed recently about our PTO being deducted by calling out sick from work. We make commission only but when we take time off we still have to go in and make up our work at a later date, and now management is stating that they are going to regularly deduct 8 hours of PTO every time you call out and the work that was missed will be given away to other employees. If you’re late they will take that out as well. The work isn’t time sensitive in any way as long as you get it done within the month. We are being punished like children. Another employee was docked 24 hours for taking 3 days off due to his mother passing away on Mother’s Day and came back to this and he’s a

seasoned employee. I had also noticed that i had been deducted twice for calling out, once for the initial date, and then again when they expected me to be present on a saturday to make it up without notifying me ahead of time and stated that i was a no call no show. Nothing came of that claim against me. Management stole 16 hours from me for what is literally the same thing but on 2 different dates. None of this makes sense. Are we being robbed and is there anything that I can do?

Asked on June 12, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You are not being robbed so long as you are paid for the PTO they take. There is no law that an employer must let you call out of work--that is not a right employees have. Employers can require that if you miss work, you must use PTO for the absence, regardless of the reason and regardless of whether you want to or not. (The law also gives employers considerable discretion about setting up rules regarding PTO generally, since employers do not need to provide PTO--it is voluntary to let employees earn PTO.) So the employer can require that you use PTO when you miss work, and so long as you are paid for the PTO, you have not in fact lost anything or had anything stolen from you.
But the key is, if they make you use PTO, you must be paid for it. Even though the employer did not have to let you earn PTO in the first place, they chose to--they made it part of your compensation. You worked under the agreement--whether written or oral, explicitly stated or implicitly understood--that you would receive PTO as compenation for working. Having worked to earn the PTO, they cannot take it away from you without paying you for it: if the employer simply debits or dockes your PTO without paying you for its use, that would be illegal and you could sue for the value of the PTO they took away.

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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