What are an employee’s rights to use their PTO?

UPDATED: Jan 5, 2011

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What are an employee’s rights to use their PTO?

My company currently gives 5 PTO hours per pay period. In the past you would max out at 210 hours of PTO and this would sit in a bank, not accrue any more, until you used them. This PTO would be deducted for things like sick days, vacation days, or any other personal time off. The company is changing their policy this year and I am wondering if it is legal. They are basically telling us that we have to use any PTO accrued in 2011 during the 2011 calendar year. Can the employer force me to take time off during the year if I still have PTO in my bank in order to use it? Should I speak with an employment law attorney? In San Mracos, CA.

Asked on January 5, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, California


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

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

According to CA labor laws, earned vacation time cannot be forfeited; "Use it or lose it" vacation policies are illegal.  The law provides that employers are not required to offer vacation days to their employees. However, once a companies choose to offer paid time off, it must adhere to the vacation pay laws.  accordingly, vacation pay is not a gift or gratuity but rather it constitutes additional wages for services rendered. Although employers can place caps on how much vacation time an employee can accrue without actually using it, employers cannot take away time their workers have already earned.

If you have been subjected to a use it or lose vacation policy or are otherwise being denied compensation for earned but unused vacation time, you need to speak directly with an employment law attorney.

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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