Is it legal for an employer to force employees to use PTO days or be unpaid for time when office was closed due to inclement weather?

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Is it legal for an employer to force employees to use PTO days or be unpaid for time when office was closed due to inclement weather?

Office was closed for one full day due to inclement weather. Employees not authorized to work from home did not have any choice but not work that day. Employer states we must use vacation, sick, or personal time for those hours or take them as unpaid hours. Is this legal? What recourse do employees have without jeopardizing employment?

Asked on February 2, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Texas

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Yes, it can.  PTO is not something that an employee is automatically entitled to. As a general rule there are no laws governing such time.  It is up to an employer's discretion as to whether or not to provide such a benefit. Consequently, employees do not have the right to use any unused time whenever they please.  Accordingly, an employer may deny a request for vacation time or it may approve it and can mandate when such time be taken. This unfortunately is your situation.

Note:  This holds true unless there is a union/employment contract or a company policy to the contrary, or discrimination based on a protected class.   

There really isn't anything that you can do about it.  In most states employment relationships are what is known as "at will" - an employer can hire or fire someone for any reason or no reason whatsoever, as well has increase/decrease salary/hours, promote/demote, and generally impose requirements as they see fit.  An employee in turn can work for an employer or not, their choice. 


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