Can an employer in NYS force you to use PTO for a doctor’s appointment that is scheduled outside normal hours (I.e. during OT hours)?

My spouse’s company has implemented a “new policy” regarding doctor’s visits. Their “normal hours” are supposed to be 0500-1330 M-F; however, they’re in a “to completion” job meaning they’re often there till 1600. They were told by their employer that if they wanted to schedule medical visits, they have to do it at least 4 hours after their “scheduled” end time (meaning after 1730). I personally don’t know of a single GP and very few Opthalmologists and Dentists that have hours that late. My spouse is required to visit a physician monthly for a maintenance prescription so you can see why this would be an issue. My question is simple: can an employer in NYS force employees to schedule doctor’s appointments outside overtime hours and force you to use PTO during “overtime hours”?

Edit: To further clarify, this applies to a specific department of a large employer (~40 employees). They were told “[that] they don’t get the same benefits as the other departments because their job is ‘to completion’ “. This policy to me is morally bankrupt but is it illegal?

1 answer  |  asked Mar 5, 2019 04:21 AM [EST]  |  applies to New York

Answers (1)

Charles Joseph
The question is complicated and very much depends on the specific facts involved.

Neither federal nor New York State labor laws regulate paid time off (PTO). Unless the employee is covered by an employment contract or collective bargaining agreement that says otherwise, an employer typically can mandate that employees take PTO even if they didn't request it.

However, if your husband is paid a salary and is considered exempt from the overtime laws, the employer could be jeopardizing your husband’s exempt status by requiring him to use PTO for doctor’s appointments.

If your husband’s condition that requires monthly maintenance qualifies as a disability under the law, his medical appointments could be considered a reasonable accommodation.

There are other facts that may be at play. Your husband should contact an experienced employment attorney to discuss his situation.

You can read more about employee rights at

This response is not legal advice, but is general information only, based upon the information stated in the question and general legal principles. It is provided for general educational purposes of the public who may have similar questions, not for any specific individual or circumstance. It is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. Legal issues depend on all the specific facts of a situation, which are not present here. If you would like to obtain specific legal advice about your issue, you must contact a local attorney who is licensed to practice law in your state.

posted by Charles Joseph  |  Mar 19, 2019 06:51 AM [EST]

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