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Employment Law/Resignations / PTO


We have had a historic problem with people submitting advance notice on resignations, usually 2 weeks (the minimum requirement) but as much as 4 weeks. During the time between their resignation and their end date, we have an increased level of sick calls. During the course of employment most employees rarely used their PTO for illness. After their resignation is submitted they are off the scale.

What options does an employer have for apparent abuse of PTO after an employee has submitted their resignation? I understand that some hospitals have put controls in place to avoid this problem. One example was shared which stated that a resigning employee cannot call off sick during the period leading up to their separation, otherwise they would forfeit any unused PTO that may be paid out.

That doesn't sound legal to me - I assume you would have to require proof of their illness from their physician.

Anita - First off, is the PTO of the "use it or lose it" variety, or is it part of the compensation package?  If it is part of compensation, i.e., it is paid out to the employee if not used upon departure from the job, you cannot institute a forfeit provision without running afoul of the law.  If it is "use it or lose it," you can impose the policy you mention with the caveat that a doctor's note will be needed if the employee expects to be paid for the PTO.   

If I were the employee in question, I would probably respond favorably to a meeting with management in which my remaining PTO was discussed, an agreement was made about whether it would be paid out or taken as days off, and an arrangement made to take the time on specific days, say the last week of the notice period, so that temp employees could be arranged in advance.  The desire to have some time before beginning an new job is understandable, as is the employer's need to have proper staffing levels.  If the two can be accommodated, everyone gains.

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Margaret M. deMarteleire


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.


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

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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