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LawTalk, Attorney
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 37035
Experience:  I have 30 years of experience in the practice of law, including employment law and discrimination law.
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can an employer force a salaried employee to take paid time

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can an employer force a salaried employee to take paid time off?
Good afternoon,

I'm Doug, and I'm sorry to hear of the confusion.

If you are asking whether an employer may tell a salaried employee to take time off, and not come into work, or do work for the employer for a period of time, and the employer is still willing to pay the normal salary to the employee----the answer is yes. An employer may tell a salaried employee to take time off. In fact, presuming that the employee is salaried exempt---not entitled to overtime, if the employer demands that the employee take off more than 1 week at a time, the employer need not pay the employee for that week in which work was not done.

However, in that situation, the employee would be entitled to file a claim for unemployment benefits.

You may reply back to me using the Continue the Conversation or Reply to Expert link if you have additional questions; and if you do, I ask that you please keep in mind that I do not know what you may already know or with what you need help, unless you tell me.


Please remember to press the smiley faces/stars on the right of your screen when we are finished with our communication so I will be credited for my time in assisting you. Kindly remember to ONLY rate my answer when you are fully satisfied. If you feel the need to rate anything less than OK, please stop and contact me with whatever issue or clarification you may need. I will be happy to continue further and assist you until I am able to address your concerns to your satisfaction.

I wish you the best in 2013,

Doug
Customer: replied 4 years ago.


Is this the law in California???

Yes, That is the law in CA.

Now, it just occurred to me that you used the term paid time off. Now, I took that to mean they said take off and you will be paid.

If you meant that they demanded that you use your accumulated PTO benefit---technically no, they can not do that. They may however adopt a policy where you lose accrued PTO if it is not used---and this generally occurs at the start of each calendar year for employees who institute such a policy.

You may reply back to me again, using the Reply to Expert link, if you have additional questions.

Until you rate me highly for my service, I will not be credited with helping you. Would you please rate me now, based on my assistance to you in understanding the law.

I wish you the best in 2013,

Doug
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

That is what I meant. In California, the salaried employee must be paid at year's end for all unused PTO Time. To avoid having to pay at the end of the year, the management is insisting that all or most of the PTO time be used. (so the employer can avoid cashing out the employees). Does the employer have a right to do this???

Hi Roxanna,

You wrote: In California, the salaried employee must be paid at year's end for all unused PTO Time. I'm afraid that you misunderstand the law. Accrued PTO/vacation time is only payable on the termination of the employee---not at the end of each calendar year. Now, an employer may develop a policy whereby they agree to pay all unused PTO annually, but the law does not require it.

The employer may institute a use it or lose it policy and then strongly suggest that you use it. Or they can get more aggressive, and under CA laws, an employer may even demand an employee take PTO---this is known as forced PTO and it is legal---even in CA. What may not be forced is the use of PTO that has not yet been earned---that an employer may not do.

The employer can also force the use of PTO is when an employee takes FMLA leave---and in that case the Act allows the employer to pay the employee and deduct the PTO.

You may reply back to me again, using the Reply to Expert link, if you have additional questions.

Until you rate me highly for my service, I will not be credited with helping you. Would you please rate me now, based on my assistance to you in understanding the law.

I wish you the best in 2013,

Doug
I want to clarify with an exception to the general rule---there is an exception for salaried workers who do not get overtime.

California said state law prohibits employers from forcing salaried employees who don't get overtime to use vacation hours if they're ready and able to work.

Doug
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I do not get overtime. I am a professional salaried employee here in the State of California. PTO is a benefit I get. Again, my question is, can I be forced to use PTO time (so the company can avoid cashing me out at the end of the year)?

Good afternoon Roxanna,

The exception that I referred to---holding that salaried employees can not be forced to tale PTO is anecdotal only. Reportedly reported by a state attorney in CA---but I can neither confirm who they are, or that their interpretation of the law is legally correct. I'm finding no case law to support that contention.

I do know that under CA law, and the laws of all 50 states, PTO is not a mandatory benefit, and therefore under the labor laws the employer may designate when an employee may or must use their vacation time. There are forced PTO periods throughout the US, and in CA, particularly in the last month of the calendar year---and all of this is legal. IO was trying to find a valid exception for you and all I find is this anecdotal piece of information from a newspaper report, and for which I can not find a corresponding CA or federal law.

So, given that, I have to suggest that even for salary exempt employees, forced PTO use in the state of CA is legal.

Doug
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