Is it legal for an employer to require staff to take time off without pay if the employee has PTO available?

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Is it legal for an employer to require staff to take time off without pay if the employee has PTO available?

Employee has 102 hours available, workflow has stalled. Poor revenue, can’t pay the employee or the PTO, so the employee is asked to take time off without using PTO. Seems illegal.

Asked on March 7, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Anyone can *ask* anything. However, while they can furlough or suspend you if they want (e.g for economic reasons), they have to let you use earned PTO for the time off if you want to do so--while employers may deny a specific PTO request (e.g. a particular set of requested days) if it will have a negative impact on workflow, productivity, etc., that is clearly not an issue if they asking you to not work anyway. 
That is the law. Bear in mind that as a practical matter, it doesn't matter what the law says or your rights are if there truly is no money available. If the company is insolvent and cannot pay wages or PTO, then even if you were to sue them (or file a complaint with the department of labor) and win, if they don't have any money to pay, you won't get anything. So a major issue is: do you believe that they are out of money? Or do you think this is just an excuse?


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