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Employer Mandatory PTO USE Pennsylvania Pennsylvania

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  • Employer Mandatory PTO USE Pennsylvania Pennsylvania

    I am hoping that someone can really clarify this. My wife works for a company that has satellite offices in different parts of the state. She is salary (exempt), half the staff at her location are also. Every year, between May and October, they cut the staff's hours (and pay); by my understanding they have the right to do so even to salaried employees. When they started to do this it was without pay, then about two years ago they started to try and force them to use their PTO time. Most of the salaried employees already had that time approved for later on in the year, they fought it and the company backed off. Now they have a few new people involved from the main office and they are trying to do it again.

    1) Am I correct, in that they can cut the hours (and pay) to a salaried employee as is done with an hourly employee? For example, they would tell her today that she should not come in next Thursday, and will not be paid for it (or forced to use pto time for it).
    2) Can they force her to use PTO time on days that she has not requested to be off?

    Depending on the responses I receive I may have more questions, but I do hope someone has some insight on this. Her superiors tried to tell her co-worker that she could not take her approved vacation time (yet they keep making them take time off from work) the week before it was scheduled. She was going to quit because she was fairly new and was already taking the time without any pto involved, but she contacted the HR dept and they told her that what she was told was incorrect and that she could take the approved time. The HR dept has been strangely quiet regarding my concerns listed in the second section, as if they were not sure what the correct answers are.

  • #2
    Easy part of the answer first. The major labor law is the federal FLSA law, and the feds do not care even a little bit about vacation/PTO. Some one else will have to address PA vacation/PTO law if any, but it is not likely that they care (much) either.

    The rest of your question is complicated. Flipping the salary back and forth every six months is at best problematic. If my employer wanted to do such a thing, I would want to request an opinion letter from federal/state DOL first. Maybe talk to outside counsel first.
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
    Philip K. **** (1928-1982)


    • #3
      I have direct knowledge of PA vacation/PTO law.

      Nothing in either Federal or PA law would prohibit the employer from requiring an employee to use PTO in the way that you describe. There is no PA law that limits the use of PTO or vacation. PA is a "follow your policy" state but unlike some, PA will not enforce a policy unless it is in writing. If no policy exists, PA will let the employer do things his way unless prohibited by law. Unless a written policy expressly states that an employee cannot be required to use PTO in any situation except when they have requested to take it, PA is not going to care diddly about how the employer requires vacation to be used.

      Stand by for Raster's legally questionable and utterly irrelevant "layman's view" on what the poster ought to do and/or what the law ought to be.
      Last edited by cbg; 07-01-2014, 11:20 AM.
      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.


      • #4
        You mention "salaried" and "hourly." I assume you mean "exempt" and "non-exempt." Those 2 are not the same thing.

        Her employer is allowed to cut her hours, whether she is exempt or not. As long as she does no work on that day, those hours can be legally docked from her pay as an exempt employee. If she is non-exempt, they can pay her strictly for the hours she works.

        Normally rules governing PTO usage are not part of federal law (rarely, they are part of state law), and would typically be guided by the company's handbook. Being forced to use PTO might be mentioned in the handbook, and would be a place to start for the answer to your second question.

        In my experience, companies who cut hours and force PTO usage are waving a red flag about the state of their business. Pay attention to these signs.

        Good luck.

        PS - amen to cbg. Been watching these posts with some degree of growing alarm.


        • #5
          Please feel free to speak up.
          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.


          • #6
            Aye aye, captain.


            • #7
              i have no debate about CBG's coverage of federal or state points....and I rather agree with J J Brown that there may be red flags about the firms business health and since PA does not provide for payout of banked vacation Id be a bit wary of accumulating too much banked time which might turn out to get lost .

              The firm may be free to adjust salaries as fast as they can shuffle paper ..take care ...also take care about submission of any reimbursable expense accounts, I don't know if that's covered by PA wage law..but why invite problems with slow submissions of expense accounts If one has same.
              And firm can work its salaried staff in PA 7 days a week until they drop


              • #8
                There are some issues about changes or cuts to hours and pay for exempt staff which flow from a DOL Opinion letter FLSA2009-19 , Jan 15, 2009 . Broader than just firefighters .....and some opine that frequent shifts in pay and hours calls into question if the person is truly exempt.....I m not familiar with details my days of plant shut downs or light summer schedules were well prior to 2000 ....but not necessarily problem free then either.


                • #9
                  There is no legal obligation to pay or reimburse business expenses except to the extent it might impact minimum wage (not likely in this case).

                  My past two employers have had employees with reduced hours and responsibilities for a few months out of the year and for those few months, they did receive a reduced salary. It wasn't hour for hour, but for the time period when they were not expected to be there everyday, all day, they did receive a reduced salary to reflect that. It was never a problem. What you describe sounds almost more like a furlough which is allowed, but if the employee is exempt, they must still be paid for the random days told not to work, though PTO use is allowed. The law cares about keeping the paycheck whole, not what bucket that pay comes from. As far as PA and the DOL are concerned, money from regular payroll and PTO are one and the same.
                  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.


                  • #10
                    Just FYI, California is the only state that cares anything at all about how paid time off is used, and California doesn't care very much. There are slightly more states than that who care what happens to unused paid time off at the time an employee terminates employment, but as to an employee's policies about usage during employment? Pfft. Maybe a couple of minor exceptions regarding when sick time can be used. Otherwise, the law is unconcerned.
                    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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