Can a company force exempt emplyees to use vacation/PTO when the company is shutting down for a week at christmas?

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Can a company force exempt emplyees to use vacation/PTO when the company is shutting down for a week at christmas?

I am an exempt employee in the state of Georgia. Our company has just announced that we will be shut down the week between Christmas and New Years. Most of us have already scheduled our vacation time/PTO. The company sent out the following announcement today

I have received several emails from employees asking how will pay be handled for exempt employees during the company closing if they have used all of their PTO prior to the closings on December 28th and 29th.
oIt is recommended that you save 2 days to cover these closings. However, we do understand that some of you may have other commitments that cannot be changed. Due to FLSA rules/regulations, we are not allowed to deduct pay from and exempt employees pay check. With that being said, if you do not have enough vacation or personal time PTO to cover these closings, we will advance you the time from your 2017 PTO accruals.

Is this legal? Can a company that is shutting down force salaried employees to use their time off when they are shut down with no option to work?

Asked on July 20, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Georgia

Answers:

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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

The majority of employment arrangements are "at will". This means that a company can set the terms of the workplace much as it sees fit. At least absent a union/collective bargining agreement or an employment agreement to the contrary or some type of legally actionable discrimination. While most employees see vacation/PTO as an automatic condition of employment that can use as they see fit. However, the law doesn't see it this way. The fact is that vacations are not legally required; they are a discretionary benefit that an employer can choose to give. To the extent that an employer provides it, it can design such a policy any way it chooses. This includes when and under what conditions to allow an employee to take this time.


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