I’m a W-2 employee on salary, and I’m exempt. I have two weeks of PTO. Can my boss do the following?

1) not give me a bare minimum of 2-3 days of paid sick leave
2) not allow me to make up time that I take to go to a Dr appointment or physical therapy
3) not allow me to use my paid sick leave that I’m supposed to have by law for my appointments?

I feel like he’s trying to make his own rules around these things, and aren’t there some laws he must follow about this? No matter the size of the company? We are a small company. Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Some of these answers depend on your state and your city. Some cities and states have paid sick leave laws, and those rules would apply in that case. I’m going to assume you don’t live in one of those places. You can google “[state] sick leave law” to see if you have protections.

I’m also going to assume that you are legitimately a salaried exempt employee and that you meet all the criteria and are not eligible for overtime.

1. Sick time isn’t required under federal law; your boss doesn’t have to give you any.

2. What do you mean by making up time? He cannot deduct anything from your salary. If you mean he’s deducting from your PTO, he can absolutely do that. Businesses are generally free to make their own rules around PTO.

3. If you have paid sick leave laws, which it looks like you do, and they apply to you, then no, he can’t do that. You can file a complaint. Most likely, your state department of labor will be responsible for this.

Now, you didn’t ask how you approach your boss about this stuff. Small businesses often have a severe disadvantage of bosses that don’t have a freaking clue what they are doing. They have it in their minds that something is “fair,” and that’s what they go with. You’ll need to be direct as to why this isn’t working for you.

You might want to see what other businesses in your area offer and present that information.

If this doesn’t work, your best option is to start looking for another job.

I know that sucks, but two weeks of total PTO for a salaried exempt employee is below average, and then when he’s making you use it for short absences (assuming that is what is happening here), it really stinks. But, since you have a job, you don’t need to stress about finding a better one. You can take your time and look for whatever is best for you. Make sure their PTO plans are clear before you accept any offer.

Dead Alarm Clock by Akshar Pathak from NounProject.com

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5 thoughts on “What Can I Do with My PTO?

  1. I think the LW is using the phrase “make up time” to mean if they miss two hours for an appointment, they would stay late two hours that day or work an additionally half hour the other days of the week.

  2. Again in reference to the make up time phrase, I think what the employer is asking about using the PTO time application to time spent not working to this employee who is, at least from my viewpoint, using time expected to be working, for non-work related activities. Granted this person is a salaried employee, which means they get paid a salary whether they work a full week or not, as long as the job is done. What people are not looking at in discussing the issue of using PTO is the question of how much of the time off from work, for other activities during expected work time, affecting the workplace. I have seen too many abuses of not using PTO when the person is a salaried employee to not question the why they are complaining about using it. PTO is there for use on any time off needed during expected work schedule, it is not “extra paid vacation” on the employee’s whim to plan when to use. Granted doctors appointments, etc. can only be made during most business hours and are a prime example of the best reason to use PTO. If this specific individual is using PTO in a different method that is affecting job performance, there’s reasons for the employer to ask if they can apply the PTO to the time spent away from the workplace. A clear concise conversation about the specific use of the expected workplace hours should have been already made clear to this salaried employee, who, if they agreed with the expectations, should not be complaining if they only agreed verbally, not expecting to have to be held accountable. If that salary payment expects a certain amount of physical presence during certain hours and the employee does maintain the expectation then the employer can ask if this specific employee has made it problematic for the workplace expectations and requires another employee to fill in the gap. No one is denying the use of the PTO but sometimes it does affect the cost of the operation end result. The decision to use PTO has to be a mutually beneficial solution for both not just the employee.

    1. It’s hard to imagine how 2 weeks of PTO in a year — especially, taken in small increments, as seems to be the case here — would seriously affect overall performance.

  3. How do you make sure that PTO plans are clear? I’ve always been told in interviews that “We have X days per year for sick or vacation leave, which can be taken anytime except, of course, right in the middle of a crunch,” which seems reasonable. Then I discover that it’s always considered crunch time and if I say I’m sick I’m suspected of faking it to slack off. How do you know, when a manager is on his best behavior in an interview, what he’d do later when “you’re just lucky you have a job?”

  4. In this economy, no one is “just lucky to have a job.” The OP should simply dispose of his/her current job and get a new one.

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