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Forced to use PTO during bonding in CA California

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  • Forced to use PTO during bonding in CA California

    Hello - I reside in California and am currently on bonding leave for my newborn. Before I started bonding, my HR department told me I'd have to use one week of my PTO (vacation) time and then bonding would start. I am now going into week 5 and see that since I started bonding, they've been using my PTO every week. So I am now currently down 160 hours with another 80 to go.
    I told them that I did not want to use my hard earned PTO as the state will be paying me for the 6 weeks that I'm out. HR said that I don't have that option and when I return to work, my years worth of PTO will be all gone.
    Since I'm receiving benefits from the state, can my employer force me to use my PTO against my will??

  • #2
    You probably qualify for PFL while bonding with your child. See link below.

    http://www.edd.ca.gov/pdf_pub_ctr/de8714cf.pdf

    There is a seven-day waiting period before benefits
    are paid. In addition, the employer may require the
    employee to use up to two weeks vacation leave or paid
    time off (PTO) prior to receiving benefits. The first week
    of vacation or PTO will be applied to the waiting period.

    (You might want to read the whole link for further info.)
    Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

    Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

    Comment


    • #3
      Yes, I do qualify for PFL and that is what I'm currently utilizing. However, my employer is not allowing me to opt out of using my PTO while out on PFL. In CA, we are provided 6 weeks of pay by the state so I don't need, nor do I want to use my vacation time.
      At first, my employer told me that I'd need to use 1 week of PTO prior to my PFL benefits starting, which is fine. Then I see that CA allows the employer to require up to 2 weeks, while I'm not thrilled about losing 80 hours of my vacation time, that's what the state allows. BUT, my employer is saying that they are going to use ALL of my PTO while I'm out.
      So, what I need to determine is if they can force me to use my PTO while the state is also paying me.

      I found that a similar scenario occurred a few years ago and the employee actually sued the employer and won because they did not have the right to force the employee to use their vacation time. The case was 'Repa v. Roadway Express'.
      The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) generally permits employers to require employees to substitute paid leave for portions of unpaid FMLA leave, but this substitution requirement is not unlimited. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held that an individual who was receiving disability benefits from a third party was not obligated also to use her paid vacation and sick leave concurrently with her FMLA leave.

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      • #4
        When you called the EDD and asked them this question, what did they say?
        The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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        • #5
          I haven't spoken with EDD about this. I just found all of this information out on Friday afternoon.
          I was hoping that, with some research, I could avoid waiting for hours trying to speak with someone at EDD who may or may not know the answer.

          Comment


          • #6
            You can show your employer the link (information above) or contact the EDD & tell them what your employer is requiring you do.
            Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

            Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

            Comment


            • #7
              You aren't going to get a better answe4r from strangers on the internet than you are from the agency that actually is charged with enforcing the law. It is their call, whether we agree or not.
              I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

              Comment


              • #8
                Yep, I gave you the law but I can't enforce it.
                Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

                Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Just to let you all know, after providing my employer with an excerpt from CA EDD website, they agreed that they cannot force me to use my PTO and will be returning all but the allowable 2 weeks

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Glad to hear it. A lot of times it's not malice but ignorance.
                    The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Glad to hear it also.
                      Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

                      Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        One more follow-up question.
                        Since my employer used 2 weeks of PTO, does that mean I still have an additional 2 weeks of bonding time still available or does the bonding time start from the date that the PTO began?
                        Currently my bonding dates are from 10/20/14 to 12/1/14 with PTO used for the first two weeks.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          If I am reading the law right, your bonding time begins after the first week of PTO. The second week of PTO runs concurrently with the waiting period of your bonding time.
                          The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I know this shouldn't be so difficult for me to comprehend, maybe it's the daddy brain but something just isn't clicking for me.
                            I'm back at work today and my employer is saying that I've exhausted all of my bonding time but I think I'm eligible for another week because of the 7 day waiting period. Reminder, my wife works for the same company so we have to split the bonding leave.

                            Here is their response to my inquiry about this. I'm also confused on why the leave dates are split up as "Bonding" and "Personal Leave". Does any, all or none of this make sense to you?

                            The bonding leave period is from 10/20/14 through 11/13/14, and the personal leave period is from 11/14/14 through 12/1/14. These dates stand regardless of how you are paid while you are out during this block of time. Using PTO and/or getting paid through PFL will not change or have any impact to these dates, as they are merely a means to getting paid while you are on leave.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              You need to remember that there are two different things here
                              (1) protected time off regardless of pay -- the dates your HR provided and
                              (2) how you are paid during that time off

                              Your employer required you to use 7 days PTO "waiting period" but can still concurrently count that time as protected time off under either state or federal leave protection laws. So that takes away a week of protected leave that you still think you have left. PTO is just how you are paid for the time.

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