What are an employee’s rights regarding PTO and write-ups?

UPDATED: Sep 29, 2010

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What are an employee’s rights regarding PTO and write-ups?

I work for a company that gives PTO that can be used to take days off for any reason if proper advance notice is given. We also have a policy that gives you the right to have 3 excused absences without any consequence. As for unexcused absences, they are supposed to take progressive steps. If an employee calls of work, and presuming that it was not excused, can the employer without informing the employee take 8 hours of PTO from the employee and also give them a write up?

Asked on September 29, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

If there is a firm policy, set out in a contract, a union contract, or an employee's handbook (or the like), it must be followed; such a policy is a contract, or at least an implied contract, between the company and the workers.

The problem is that if the policy is only in informal documents or the employee's handbook, it often is not firm. For example, employee handbooks commonly include various disclaimers to the effect that "policies may be changed at will," or "nothing in this manual creates a contract or employment." If there are disclaimers, the "policy" has no teeth and is not enforceable; it merely sets out what the company intended to do at the moment it was written, without binding them.

So if you have a contract, a union agreement, or one of those rare employee handbooks that lacks disclaimers and creates a firm, unequivocal implied contract, the company should follow those terms.

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