As a salary employee, can I be charged PTO hours during a week if I have already worked 40 hours?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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As a salary employee, can I be charged PTO hours during a week if I have already worked 40 hours?

I am a salary employee. If I work 40 hours in a given work week, and those 40 hours are accrued by noon on Friday, can my employer legally charge me 4 hours of PTO or vacation time if I decide to leave at noon that day, even though I have worked the required 40 hours already?

Asked on August 9, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, South Dakota


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

No, they cannot. As a salaried employee, you may only be required to use PTO for an absence or for not working when it is a whole-day absence. If you work any part of a workday, you must be paid that day's salary (one-fifth of your weekly salary); since you are being paid that full day's salary, there is no need to use PTO. 
The above, said, being salaried does NOT give you the right to leave work at will: if your employer believes you should have been at work but were not, then unless you had a written employment contract protecting you in some way, you could be suspended, demoted, pay cut, even terminated for leaving work during your normal work hours. This is a function of "employment at will" (the law except to the extent limited by a written contract), which allows the employer to terminate an employee--or do anything "short of" or "less than" termination"--at any time, for any reason whatsoever.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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