Can employer deduct negative PTO?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can employer deduct negative PTO?

I’ve read that employers cannot deduct from an employee’s paycheck if they have a negative PTO balance at the time their employment is terminated. Does this still hold true if I sign a letter stating that I authorize them to deduct from my final paycheck? It’s one of the requirements for me to request to go into the negative. I haven’t signed it yet but I’d imagine they wouldn’t approve my time off if I don’t sign it. Is there a way around it even if I do sign it?

Asked on September 23, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

No, if you sign it, there is no way around it: by signing the letter, you will have contractually agreed that they may offset your negative PTO against any pay due to you; that makes it legal for them to do so, since employers may deduct from employee paychecks if the employee consents, or agrees--which you would have done by signing the letter. 
The agreement to repay the PTO is an enforceable contract, since you would have received good "consideration" (the negative PTO) for it. Any court would find it enforceable.

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