If an employeehandbook states they will work with the employee to get an education, is it within my right to use sick leave to get the education?

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If an employeehandbook states they will work with the employee to get an education, is it within my right to use sick leave to get the education?

I am in the process of getting my degree, two lab classes that necessitate leaving 15 minutes early for 3 days a week, for which I could use accrued sick leave, and my employer refuses to allow me that time. They have said that even those 15 minutes are essential because I need to help clean up. These are the last 2 classes before I get this degree, a degree that will very soon be required for the position I hold in the company.

Asked on August 29, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Help with educational assistance and sick time are two seperate items.  Your employer is not required to approve the use of the sick time in order to facilitate your educational objects-- even though the result is contradictory to their future requirements.  The handbook is not a guarantee that they will do everything in their power to help you with your education.  Based on their actions, it seems more like propaganda to avoid a union campaign ("Look at us... see how touchy feely we are....")  Even though hypocritical, it does not create a per se right to use sick time to obtain your education.  If you do use the time, just know they can deny payment for the leave if they find that you were not sick, and potentially terminate you for representing to the company that you were sick, when in fact you were not.


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