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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 12792
Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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Can an employer arbitrarily impose upon an employee to use

Customer Question

Can an employer arbitrarily impose upon an employee to use their accrued vacation hours in lieu of sick leave in processing payroll without the employee's consent? The company employee handbook doesn't even have that guideline wherein a manager can arbitrarily do submit a request to use the vacation on behalf of the employee even though I clearly expressed that I'd rather not get paid than use my accrued vacation hours. I want to have a choice when to use my accrued vacation, but my manager keeps on arbitrarily using this accrued hours whenever I don't have enough in my PTO. I felt that my right to choose has been violated. Is what they're doing legally violating my right as an employee?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Marsha411JD replied 2 years ago.
Hello,Thank you for the information and your question. In order to assist you I will need more information. First, I need to know what State you work in. Then I need to know if you are an exempt (salaried and not entitled to overtime) or non-exempt employee, paid hourly and overtime eligible. Also, are you saying that you have a separate PTO in addition to vacation leave and that PTO is used for sick leave only? Are you in a union?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I am an non-exempt employee. I have a separate PTO accrual from vacation accrual. PTO is currently use for sick leave (i.e., doctor's appointment, etc.). I'm not in a union.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I'm in California.
Expert:  Marsha411JD replied 2 years ago.
Ok, well your question was in the wrong category as California Employment Law questions have their own category so I will opt out and send this to that category for one of those Experts to assist you. Someone will let you know when they are available.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Am I going to be cut off here or will pick up?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Please email your answer to: ***@******.***
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Different attorney here, please permit me to assist you with your concerns.
Unfortunately, since the law does not require employers to offer any paid vacation time at all, the law imposes very few limitations on how an employee can earn and use such time. In general, the only limitation is that an employee cannot be made to forfeit accrued vacation. Forfeiture would be when the days are taken away and the employee is not provided with paid time off or the cash value of the days.
What you are describing is not a forfeiture, though, since you are getting paid for the vacation, you are just not getting to use it at the time you would like. This does not violate any law. It is unfair and will generally decrease employee morale, but your employer is under no legal obligation to let you use your vacation at the time of your choosing. In fact, your employer could technically never allow you to use your vacation at all. You'd be entitled to the cash value of your accrued days upon separation of employment if that were to happen (since, as noted above, CA law prohibits forfeiture of accrued vacation), but the point is that your employer has absolute control to determine when you use this time and they can force you to use it to cover your sick days.
I hope that you find this information helpful and am genuinely sorry if it is not what you were hoping to hear. 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 moving forward.
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Was I able to answer your question? Please let me know if I can provide any further assistance and it will be my pleasure to do so....