Can an employer refuse an employees use of PTO hours past a 40 hour mark?

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Can an employer refuse an employees use of PTO hours past a 40 hour mark?

I was sick for 3 days last week. I put in a request for 24 hours of vacation time. The payroll person only put me in for 16 hours. HR said that it costs the company too much money to allow us over 40 hours unless we’ve actually worked over 40 hours. Basically, they are telling us when we can and cannot use our earned time. As of right now, I have over 100 hours of PTO/Vacation, but I was only allowed to use 16 hours. Is this legal?

Asked on March 14, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Colorado

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

First, companies are not required to provide PTO at all--the law doesn't require it--so whether, when, how much time, etc. you can use is up to the company. The company does not need to follow its own policies on the subject, but if their policy is and has been to not allow use of PTO to put total hours worked in a week past 40, that may be legal and proper; it again, depends on what the policies are and have been stated to be.

Second, your payroll person misunderstands the law--PTO of any kind (comp time, vacation, sick, personal, etc.) does not count for overtime purposes. That is, overtime is based only on *working* more than 40 hours in a week. So if the company's concern is they don't want to pay overtime on PTO, they don't need to worry--they don't have to.


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