If I want to take unpaid time off, can my employer legally deny me the time if there is coverage?

Asked on September 1, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Maine


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

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Yes, your employer can do this. This is true even if you want to use PTO. The fact is that either paid or unaid time is not legally required to be provided by an employer. Therefore, to the extent that a company does provide it, it has a great deal of say over when it is taken (although it cannot completely deny the use of PTO; it must be given at some point). Whether or not there is coverage makes no difference. The fact is that most work relationships are "at will". This means that an employer can set the conditions of the workplace much as it sees fit (absent some form of actionable discrimination). The only exception to this is if denying unpaid time off violates the terms of a union agreement or employment contract.

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