Can my employer deny me unpaid time off with sufficient notice?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can my employer deny me unpaid time off with sufficient notice?

I keep hearing in my facility that an employee is not allowed to take any unpaid time off. For example in a snow storm employees are told that they are not allowed to come in before 1 2pm and they are to either make up the hours they are missing or use the paid time off. Shouldn’t it be at the employees discretion when to come in, or not to come in to work in a snow situation. Also, if there is not policy in the handbook related to unpaid time off and nothing that was signed by the employee can my employer tell me that I am not allowed to have any unpaid time off.

Asked on February 8, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania


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

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Absent legally actionable discrimination, an employer can set the conditions of the workplace much as it sees fit. This includes when to have an employee come in and when they can use their PTO. The fact is that PTO is not legally mandated to be given which means that a company has a great deal of say over when it is used. Accordingly, unless this action violates the terms of a union/collective bargaining agreement or employment contract, it is legal. 

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