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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
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Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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Is it legal for an employer to force a salaried exempt to utilize

Resolved Question:

Is it legal for an employer to force a salaried exempt to utilize PTO/vacation hours if you do not work a full 8 hour day, for example leave early for an appointment?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Good afternoon and thank you for entrusting me to assist you.

In order to answer your question, it is first necessary to explain a basic principle of salaried employment, which is that workers are entitled to their fixed salaried paycheck regardless of the quality or quantity of work they perform, with only certain limited exceptions.

The most common exception to this general rule that salaried employees must receive the same paycheck regardless of the quality or quantity of work is where the employee misses a full day of work for personal reasons, illness or vacation.

In such a circumstance, the employer can deduct a pro rata portion of the employee's salary for the missed days. (i.e., if there are 10 work days in the pay period and the employee misses 3 full workdays, the employee's salary payment can be reduced by 30%)

An employer may NOT reduce a salaried employee's pay for absences "occassioned by the employer," meaning any day on which the employee would have otherwise worked but the employer has scheduled the day off or closed the office. Furthermore, an employer cannot deduct from a salaried employee's pay for partial day absences.

It is also important to understand that accrued PTO/vacation is considered a "wage earned," and as such may not be forfeited by an employee--that time must either be "cashed out" or the employee must be allowed to take the paid day off. While PTO cannot be forfeited, employers do enjoy the right to control when and how employees use that time and can require employees to use it on certain days.

The problem with the practice you have described is that it seeks to deprive an employee of PTO time for time of from work to which the employee is already entitled to be paid--partial day absences. Thus, the practice amounts to either an unlawful deduction from PTO or a failure to pay full salary, neither of which are permissible under the circumstances.

So, while it would be permissible to force an employee to use a day of PTO if the employee missed a FULL day work for personal reasons (since the employee is not legally entitled to be paid for that day and employers retain discretion to force employees to use PTO at any time), it is NOT permissible to deduct for partial day absences, since that time by law must be compensated through salary.

Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.

If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes to you and thank you so much for coming to Just Answer.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 7374
Experience: Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
Patrick, Esq. and 2 other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you

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