disciplined for not prearranging an absence (even death)

I earn Personal Time Off (PTO) for every 40 hours worked to use for vacation, sick, or personal time off. My company has just changed its PTO policy. If I call in sick or have a family emergency or even a death in the family, and I call in to use my PTO, I will be written up for not pre-arranging the absence. Three write ups (of any kind) in three months are cause for termination. Is it legal for the company to give PTO benefits and then discipline you for using it? I work for company in NY.

1 answer  |  asked Oct 9, 2003 7:59 PM [EST]  |  applies to New York

Answers (1)

David M. Lira
Written up for taking time off

In combining vacation and sick leave into "Personal Time Off" or "PTO," your employer might be doing something it does not have to do. Generally, vacation time is considered earned, so that, when you leave, you are entitled to take it with you as extra pay. But sick leave is normally not considered earned, so that, when you leave, you lose it. Although I haven't seen any cases on it, PTO might well allow you to take all accummulated time with you when you leave because all PTO may be considered earned. (Note that employers can limit the amount of time you accummulate. "Use or loss" time is OK.)

Generally, it seems to me that an employer can write you up and terminate you for use of PTO which is not pre-arranged, but I think there is an important exception in there related to the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA). If you take unanticipated time off for an illness covered by FMLA (generally a serious illness), it probably would violate FMLA. I haven't seen a case on it, but I think there is a good argument that the write-up would violate the law. But again, only if you take time off because a serious illness suffered by you or a family member.

posted by David M. Lira  |  Oct 10, 2003 10:21 AM [EST]

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