Although employers are generally not required to offer paid time off (PTO), many do. However, the employer can place restrictions on when you use your PTO. If an employer refuses to allow you to take off the requested days, and you refuse to take off days that are available, the employer must compensate you for the time not used.
Additionally, California Labor Code section 227.3 provides that employers are not allowed to require employees to use or lose their PTO or unpaid vacation time. The employer can put a reasonable cap on the amount of vacation time that an employee may accrue. However, if a court finds that the implementation of a cap is simply to deny or make it more difficult for employees to use their accrued benefits the policy will be invalidated. Also, keep in mind that these benefits can be enhanced or limited by a collective bargaining agreement.
These rules are not to be confused with the rules for sick time. Sick time is treated differently because unlike vacation time, or PTO, sick time is not considered earned compensation because it is only to be used in the event that you become ill.
Another common question is whether an employee can simply deduct PTO or vacation leave for parts of the day. This is usually up to the specific agreement between the employer and employee, it is best to consult the employee handbook for this information because some employers provide PTO, vacation, or sick time in 1 hour increments, but require that employees use their time in 4 hour increments.
This type of compensation can amount to a lot of unpaid wages over the years. This is one reason why so many workers are not receiving the full amount of compensation they are entitled to.
Although most employers are not required to provide PTO, vacation, or sick leave some cities and municipalities throughout the country have modified this by requiring employers to provide a minimum amount of these benefits. One example is San Francisco, where an employer must provide employees with 1 hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked.
The California employment law attorneys of the Law Offices of Michael S. Cunningham, LLP have many years of experience handling wage and hour cases, including lawsuits for unpaid wages due to failure to provide proper breaks. To schedule a free case evaluation contact us at (951) 213-4786 today.