Can an employer use my PTO for time I worked?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can an employer use my PTO for time I worked?

Recently I was told that if I have to leave work early for any reason, I will
have to use my PTO for the entire 8 hour day. Even if I worked 5 hours, I would
have to use 8 hours of my pto time as if I had called out that day. Is this

Asked on December 12, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

No, it is not legal.
1) If you are hourly, then they can only use an amount of PTO equal to the amount of time you are out (e.g. 3 hours, if you missed 3 hours of work). That is because hourly employees must be paid for *all* hours worked; PTO is part of your compensation; taking away more PTO than was actually necessary for your absence is therefore substantially equivalent to taking away (i.e. not paying you for) hours you worked, which is not legal.
2) If you are salaried, PTO is not used in hourly increments. A salaried employee gets his or her fully daily salary (e.g. one-fifth of the weekly salary, assuming the usual 5-day work week) if he or she works *at all* that day: if a salaried employee works part of a day, he or she is paid for the full day and therefore PTO is not necessary to cover any hours he or she missed. Salaried employee PTO is used (or not used, as the case may be) in full day increments, not hourly or part-day increments.

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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