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Employment Law/Extended Leave Bank

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QUESTION: A couple years ago my employer, in Ca, switched to paid time off (PTO)instead of vacation, sick,and holiday pay. At the time of the switch any employees with holiday and vacation went into PTO, and sick time was put into an extended leave bank (ELB). With the PTO all of our holiday, vacation, and sick time comes from one bank, and we are allowed to cash out part of it once a year. With ELB, we are only allowed to use it after using 5 days of our PTO and are not allowed to cash out at all, even if we leave with notice. So I have 45 hours of my time that I already worked for that I will never see? Is this legal?

ANSWER: Kassie - If I understand you correctly, you are able to take the ELB time if you first take five PTO days.  Is that correct?  If it is, how are you being deprived of the time?  

California requires that time off be paid out when employment ends, but sick time is not the same as vacation or personal time.  In theory, it was available only if you were ill, and was not intended to replace other time off or to become additional vacation time.  I imagine that's why your employer switched to PTO -- it complies with CA law and doesn't cause disputes such as the one you present.

Regardless of the reasons, it does sound as if you are able to take the time, so are not being deprived of anything but the chance to cash it out.  If you are unhappy with that option, you could contact the California Department of Industrial Relations and ask their opinion of the legality of your employer's rules.  If they agree with you, they can negotiate with your employer to change the status of the forty-five hours.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: They way my employer has factored our holiday pay into our PTO accrual rate has made it nearly impossible to build up a PTO bank to cover this 5 day waiting period.
So,what happens if I've had a few sick days,worked a few holidays, and now don't have enough hours to cover the five days?
I have to miss out on 5 days of pay, that's over half my check, being a low income family I rely on every hour I have.
So is it legal for them to factor the holiday pay into the accrual rate?

Answer
Kassie - Because no California law or federal law requires that employers give paid time off, there is no illegality in what your employer is doing.  Unless there is a written contract with the employees stating something other than what they are doing, you have no legal claims in situation.

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Margaret M. deMarteleire

Expertise

I can answer most questions about employment law, federal or state. I am an attorney, not an HR professional, so questions about HR careers, coursework, prospects, etc. are not within my scope.

Experience

Attorney for 20 years, currently working exclusively with employment law - FLSA, FMLA, federal contracts, pay, etc.

Education/Credentials
Temple University School of Liberal Arts, BA, Rhetoric & Communication, 1982 Temple University School of Law, JD, 1990 Certificate in HR, Cornell University ILR School, 2006

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