What is the law regarding paying out PTO when an employee leaves?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What is the law regarding paying out PTO when an employee leaves?

Hello, I recently left my company which had a PTO program. Per their written policy, I was only able to take 40 hours of my PTO. However for the past three years, we had a very large project in which blocks of the summer/fall we were told mandatory no PTO could be taken to ensure go-live was met and successful. Therefore, I have accrued a lot of PTO, namely I had 190 hours when I left. I feel that it is unethical for a company to tell me that I cannot take PTO yet now as I leave, I cannot get paid all of it out. Is there a legal path I can take regarding my PTO that was left unpaid?

Asked on July 21, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Minnesota


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

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Under MN law, if an employer contracts to provide PTO, this benefit is considered to be wages and the employer may be subject to penalties if it does not pay the value of accrued but unused PTO/vacation upon termination or resignation of employment. That having been said, employers can limit the payout of earned but unused PTO upon termination; it is based on the terms set out in company policy (i.e. an employee handbook or the like), or possibly in a union agreement or employment contract. At this point, you can consult directly with an local employment law attorney or contact your state's department of labor for further information.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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