What are my rights regarding the use of vacation time?

UPDATED: Sep 29, 2022

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What are my rights regarding the use of vacation time?

My employer does not let me take half days at work without making up those hours at some other point during the week even though I have sufficient vacation to cover that time. They, instead, insist that I take the entire day off in order to be able to use my vacation time. For example, I cannot use 4 hours of vacation for taking off a half day. I would need to miss then entire day of work to utilize my vacation time. If I only missed 4 hours of the day, I would need to work an extra 4 hours that week. My employer would not let me use 4 hours of my accrued vacation time. I currently work as a salaried employee. Is that legal?

Asked on October 7, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, California


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

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

Absent a union/collective bargaining agreement or company policy to the contrary, your employer can mandate just how and when vacation time must be taken. Even though most employees believe that they have the right to use accrued vacation time whenever they choose, this simply isn't the case. The fact is that neither federal law nor the laws of most states mandate that vacation time or PTO even be offered to employees. Such time is a discretionary benefit on the part of an employer. Accordingly, to the extent that private-sector employers decide to offer PTO, as a general rule, they can design and implement their policies in almost any way they deem fit. 
Note The scheduling of PTO must not constitute some form of discrimination or retaliation.

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