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My (sorta) new job has recently implemented a new PTO policy.  You earn so many hours per pay period depending on seniority.  I've only been there six months so will barely earn enough for a trip home by late December 2013, which I've already requested for Christmas so I can fly home to see my elderly mother, (which I told them at the time I requested it).   My first year won't be complete until October, at which point I'll have enough hours.  First, they told me they can't approve my PTO until I've actually earned the hours, but my supervisor said she'd make a note of it so I could get it (I kept her e-mail in case she "forgets").   BTW, this PTO policy is for any time off, sick, vacation, personal, whatever.  

Okay, so I get that.  Then last week I was sick, (first time since starting in October and only missed one day, though should have taken more.  I'm no spring chicken)  Now I had planned to just lose the pay so I could keep my PTO for my Christmas trip home.  Well, come to find out they're forcing me to take 8 hours for my sick pay.  Going pay-less is not allowed unless it's an emergency and I guess a stomach bug doesn't qualify.  They said I should have "made up the hours".  Kind of hard to do when the pay period is already over when they give me the news.  I've only got about 11 hours stored up thus far.  My concern is, if something else comes up between now and December, I won't have the necessary PTO in the bank and they'll refuse my request, in spite of asking for it a year ahead of time and buying plane tickets.  All this happened when we were taken over by another company, (they call it merged) and everything just went to hell.   Can they really force me to use my PTO when I've reserved it for something else?  

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Comment Preferences

  •  my company (10+ / 0-)

    forces vacation/sick hours to be used towards any hours under 40 a week, regardless if we was sent home to lack of work, power outage, etc. So would not be surprised if they did the same in your case.

    •  Yeah, that sounds like mine, too. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FloridaSNMOM, commonmass

      Fortunately, we've been busy lately, but around the holidays we run low on work so I was wondering if they'd pull that.

      I bought a hoodie to show solidarity with Trayvon Martin, but nobody notices me.

      by shades at midnite on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 03:31:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This is really outrageous. (11+ / 0-)

      They make you use your personal time off even if you reported for work and your time off had nothing to do with "personal" reasons?

      Someone needs to call both the state and federal wage and hour boards over this. It's a sign of the crappy economy that people would stay with an employer with such stupid, unfair, anti-employee policies.

      My recollection of similar circumstances was that the employer had to pay you for a minimum block of time, either three or four hours if you reported for work and through no fault of your own there was no work. I thought that was one of the reasons companies were so vigilant about reporting weather closures and late openings to public outlets like local tv and radio so they wouldn't be liable for such wages

      “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

      by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 03:45:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's Texas for you (8+ / 0-)

        Im just glad my workplace has a relatively low chance of explosion.

        The biggest fraud Ive noticed is the hiring of 'temps'. Theres 'temps' who have been here 4 years. Dare to ask about being full time, thus getting some benefits? In a few weeks suddenly your position is gone due to a 'decrease in work volume'.

        Snow day and roads are closed? Use a vacation day. Tornado and you need to go home to check on your house? Vacation time.

        Now they have implemented a 'point system'. 5 points is termination. a Half point is given for being 7 or more minutes late to work. One whole point for missing an entire day, regardless if you have sick time or not. So even if you are really sick, you get points that count towards your termination. Also a half point for leaving early, regardless if you make up time or even work overtime that week. So really you can work 80 hours a week, be late one of those days, and you get points toward termination regardless of the overtime you work. Points only go away after 3 months of no points, 1 point is removed.

        •  We have a point system for accuracy. (7+ / 0-)

          They do spot edits.  I understand that.  They grade errors from 1/2 to 3 points which can add up to termination.  Points are also taken away if the client returns work for an error.  And I understand the need for accuracy but this is what bothers me.  Right now we have lots of work and they are asking for people to work extra.  No overtime, we get paid production, but the more work you do, the more tired or stressed you are, obviously, the more potential for errors.  So why would I want to work more hours, possibly making more errors, and risk termination?  But if I slow waaaay down to be more accurate, then I'm not meeting the minimum hourly production and guess what.  More points.  

          I bought a hoodie to show solidarity with Trayvon Martin, but nobody notices me.

          by shades at midnite on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 03:59:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Yup.... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          worldlotus, Ahianne

          Someone, somewhere who doesn't have to live with these draconian PTO policies, has made life quite difficult for a good many people.  
          I have never seen so any people out on paid medical leave at a job as I have at my present place of employ.  They come back and then go out again.  They get no demerits because they know how to game the system.  Unlike the poor sap who struggles to go in day after day with a recurring cold until they're just too sick and stay home.... and those demerits just keep coming.
          There was a co-worker who got a call that her house was on fire, left to rush home....and of course got a demerit.
          And there's the person who walks in with four other people 5 minutes late because of a traffic jam, and gets a demerit while the other four don't (they had a different supervisor), because as her supervisor told her 'she should have left earlier'.
          It goes on and on.

          I think, therefore I am........................... Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose....AKA Engine Nighthawk - don't even ask!

          by Lilyvt on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 08:20:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I agree (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cynndara, NoMoreLies

        Unfortunately, I suspect that most employees are facing this situation in most of the states.

        In my case, I spent some time working for an Indian Gaming Casino. That was my first experience with PTO I didn't even get sick more than a couple of days, but it still stinked.

        This was in California, but since the Native Americans are free to fuck over all of their employees--the are exempt from most State and Federal regulations-- I just had to live with it. Fortunately, I only worked there for a year and it was the last before I retired.

        I think that we're on a path that will insure that all of us are working under conditions very similar to what I experienced while working for the Jackson Rancheria.

        This particular path is supported by the current administration and both parties in Congress.

        The only trouble with retirement is...I never get a day off!

        by Mr Robert on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 05:09:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I'm no lawyer, but (8+ / 0-)

    I think they can do that.  Perhaps they will let you take the unpaid day(s) at Christmas.  (I'd be really sweet about it until they tell you for sure that you can't go.)  

    -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

    by luckylizard on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 03:24:09 PM PDT

  •  Sounds like you're the victim of "time banking" (16+ / 0-)

    This crappy idea sprang up in the late 90's as a way for employers to save money by making employees think they were getting more vacation. Younger people tended to love it because they (in general) were sick less and got the extra vacation. "Who needs 2 weeks of sick leave? I NEVER get sick! Give me a week of vacation instead!" Unfortunately, depending on the state you live in, this is probably 100% legal. Are you part of a union? If so, contact them for more information about your options.

    Sorry conservatives, but Occam's Razor isn't a beard trimmer for jihadists. What it means is I don't have to accept your crazy-assed theories as an alternative to reality.

    by ontheleftcoast on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 03:24:52 PM PDT

    •  I worked at a place where this was (17+ / 0-)

      followed (indeed back in the late 90s): it annoyed me to no end when some halfwit would come in at death's door, coughing, sputtering, and getting everyone else sick because he didn't want "to lose his vacation time." Too sick to get much done, of course.

      Another corporate scam.

    •  I was a net loser under the sick time system, (6+ / 0-)

      because I just don't get sick very often.

      •  Not really (9+ / 0-)

        That's a short-sighted, and self-centered, way to look at it. By having a decent sick leave policy folks who are sick can stay home and not infect you. How much is your good health worth to you? Or would you rather Bill from marketing or Sarah from payroll sneezed or coughed some H7N9 on you because they were afraid of losing a day's pay?

        Sorry conservatives, but Occam's Razor isn't a beard trimmer for jihadists. What it means is I don't have to accept your crazy-assed theories as an alternative to reality.

        by ontheleftcoast on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 04:15:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  your world is scary! (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Victor Ward, Samulayo
          •  that may not be fair. if one only has (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ginny in CO, Victor Ward

            one or two weeks of PTO, I could see what you're saying.  I've probably got 3 or 4 or something, so there's no risk of running out even if I'm sick three or four days.

            •  It is scary, and very real. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              worldlotus, Ahianne

              Especially in high turnover, low paying jobs. Another benefit that has disappeared for many: Extended Illness Time (EIT). It builds up every paycheck, at a much lower rate. Can be used if you have taken 3 PTO days in succession. Usually needs a doc note, may need ok to RTW as well.

              I distinctly remember a new supervisor ending my first annual review with "And you are Never sick!"  Which was true. I never used  EIT until my GP's LPN was just SURE (on a phone call) I had a viral sinus infection and insisted I do sinus washes. ED diagnoses 2 days later were hilar lobe pneumonia, bilateral otitis media with ruptured eardrums. I was out 5 weeks. Fortunately I had enough combined PTO and EIT to cover the base hours. No OT or night shift rates...

              "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

              by Ginny in CO on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 05:38:58 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  But I worked for a company where "sick time" (0+ / 0-)

          Included time off if the employees' kids were sick. That sounds like a great benefit... Until you're the young single (or older married but child-free) dupe that always gets stuck working late because everyone calls in sick when their kids happen to have winter and spring break, and you have to cover their and your desks too.

          Then they show up a few days later with golden tans.

          PTO means you don't have to make excuses or explain why you're out of the office. You have the time, you take it. If you don't, you don't. Plan accordingly. If you get sick more often, bank your time.

          We're adults here.

          © grover

          So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

          by grover on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 10:52:55 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I understand where you're coming from but (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        susanala, Ginny in CO, worldlotus, Ahianne

        you never know when you're going to have a medical emergency.  Even a young healthy person could be in a major car accident and be hospitalized for several weeks with rehab to follow.  

        I bought a hoodie to show solidarity with Trayvon Martin, but nobody notices me.

        by shades at midnite on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 04:18:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  But if you have a large pool of PTO you're okay (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I was lucky to work for an employer who switched to PTO back in the 90s but did not skimp on the amount you accrued so even when a bad, bad flu hit, I was covered and when co-workers had surgery, they were okay.

          But I've also spent time in contracting gigs with miserly PTO where you dragged yourself in to save leave.  

          Now I'm with Uncle Sam and have only taken one day of sick leave in the months I've been here so I have a far larger pool of sick leave than annual leave right now.  I kinda wish it was PTO but at the same accrual rate.

          •  If you've been there long enough to acrue it. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I'd been with my old employer for almost two decades but they closed down.  This job is just a few months old so it will be a while before I have much in the bank.  The first year is really miserly.  I believe it gets better after the first anniversary, but I'm not a young woman and my husband has major heart disease.  So this is stressful for me.  

            I bought a hoodie to show solidarity with Trayvon Martin, but nobody notices me.

            by shades at midnite on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 07:07:33 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Sadly yes! (11+ / 0-)

    Remember that, in the absence of a union contract or a specific law to the contrary, they can make you do pretty much anything they want to.  And this policy is not all that unusual - pretty typical in my experience, that you have to get your full schedule worth of hours every pay period and must use PTO as needed to make up missed time.  From the employer's standpoint, if they let you take unpaid time off when you want to (or feel you need to) then they lose your being their twice - once for the unpaid day and once for the vacation day you are trying to save.  This is the way that PTO policies are a problem for workers: When your vacation and sick time all come from the same pool, trying to preserve your vacation encourages people to work sick.  It's OK for people like me who almost never get sick (so far).  But not OK for people with small children at home or other circumstances that cause them to miss some time episodically.  But normal for the American workplace.

    "Wouldn't you rather vote for what you want and not get it than vote for what you don't want - and get it?" Eugene Debs. "Le courage, c'est de chercher la verite et de la dire" Jean Jaures

    by Chico David RN on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 03:29:18 PM PDT

  •  yeah, probably. (6+ / 0-)

    since you're free to leave their employ, they can usually set all sorts of limits on how, what, when and if they pay you or grant you time off. There are federal laws, but none that really deal with vacation/sick time (only unpaid family leave) but each state has different laws, so the best bet would be to contact your state labor department for clarification.

    "There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses." -- Bible (yes, THAT Bible) EZ: 23 19-20

    by PBJ Diddy on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 03:30:25 PM PDT

  •  probably. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FloridaSNMOM, commonmass, grover

    don't see why they couldn't.

  •  Yes, if you don't have a union, they can (12+ / 0-)

    pretty much do what ever the hell they want. They can make up rules, change rules, lower your pay etc etc etc.

    What they are doing to you does not violate the law.

    But even when they do violate the law, without a union, who's to stop them?

    A Texas fast food joint near here forces workers to take long breaks (anywhere from 1-2 hours) in the middle of their shifts for no pay but they can't leave. Because they are supposed to be there in case they are needed. This results in them making less than minimum wage. Illegal, yes. But whose to stop the company. I found them a lawyer willing to take the case, but they are too intimidated. Some of them have no papers.

    Without a union, bottom line, your screwed. It's unions that brought us such things as vacations and weekends and as unions are being destroyed, so goes our vacations and weekends.

    WE NEVER FORGET Modestino Valentino who lost his life in the Paterson Silk Strike

    by JayRaye on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 03:50:12 PM PDT

  •  Mine requires it (10+ / 0-)

    Basically, the policy is that PTO must be used for any time off.  If you're taking any time off beyond that without pay, it has to be either pre-approved or something covered by FMLA.

    A couple years back a co-worker burned all of her PTO dealing with stuff after her husband died unexpectedly plus some health issues of her own.  Then we had a blizzard and since she lived in a rural area, she called in rather than risk getting stranded and, you know, freezing to death.  She only had a few hours of PTO at the time, but figured she'd accrue a enough by the end of the pay period so she'd be safe.

    Nope.  She got officially written up for it, because technically at the time she took the time off she did not have the PTO accrued.

    •  I swear some companies have a policy to (5+ / 0-)

      write up ANYTHING they can. So if they decide to cut staff there are people who have been written up enough to get rid of them on some additional infraction. Or if they are trying to get rid of employees who have been around enough to build up hourly pay and benefits.

      Even in a right to work state, having reasons for firing the person lets them off any contributions they have to make to an unemployment insurance claim if the state doesn't protect them from that.

      "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

      by Ginny in CO on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 05:52:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It should all be in writing in your companies (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nchristine, JeffW, Ginny in CO, grover

    personnel handbook, a copy which you should have received, and signed for.

    "Privatize to Profitize" explains every single Republican economic, social and governing philosophy. Take every taxpayer dollar from defense, education, health care, public lands, retirement - privatize it, and profit from it.

    by mumtaznepal on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 03:54:21 PM PDT

  •  I feel so naive. (8+ / 0-)

    I had such a great job for so many years, before they closed down.  It was a small company so the benefits weren't great, but they gave you a lot of personal space and trusted you if you said you were sick, or had an appointment.  I usually just went without pay if I needed a long lunch or had to leave early.  Guess you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone.  

    I bought a hoodie to show solidarity with Trayvon Martin, but nobody notices me.

    by shades at midnite on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 04:08:04 PM PDT

    •  shades - there are no federal laws that cover (0+ / 0-)

      vacation time, sick time or PTO. Unless your state or city has some specific statutes on these issues your employer can impose any rules they choose.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 05:19:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I was so sickened by this diary and the (11+ / 0-)


    FWIW, I'm a small employer (small law office).  I pay very good salary and benefits and have generally been rewarded with incredibly loyal and competent employees.

    My policy has always been to offer unlimited paid sick leave, with the proviso that in theory I could fire somebody for abusing that.  In 20 years I've never done that.  For all I know I'm the only law firm employer offering anything like that.

    I'm challenged right now, unfortunately during a time of a significant cash crunch, by a long-time trusted employee who is suffering mightily with stage 4 cancer, and probably will not survive this year.

    I'm going to cover her medical insurance, and pay her for time off, forever, even if I have to mortgage my own residence (which is looking likely).

    I may be bankrupt on earth, but I hope this counts in heaven.

    Oh how my blood boiled reading the comments in this diary!

    •  You are a compansionate human being, corps aren't. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      devis1, worldlotus, Ahianne
    •  Some large firms do that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      At least for management, I know I had it.  I think we weren't allowed to do that in DC for non-exempt employees because they have to be paid for unused leave if they quit.  So therefore you have track it explicitly (and we also awarded based on seniority)

      I'm not 100% on all of this (I am not in HR) and I've been out of law firms for a few years.

      Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

      by Wisper on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 06:21:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Bless you. I hope your employees realize what a (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nespolo, Lorikeet, worldlotus, Ahianne

      gem you are.  

      I bought a hoodie to show solidarity with Trayvon Martin, but nobody notices me.

      by shades at midnite on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 07:10:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  US labor policy/laws are Victorian. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      worldlotus, Ahianne

      The diary sounds like something out of a Dickens novel.

      In the EU, minimum number of days vacation is mandated in every country, and is usually around 4 weeks, per year plus public holidays.

      Most companies provide a certain number of sick days on full pay, after which social security kicks in, and the amount varies by country. For example, my partner in Germany gets 6 weeks sick leave on full pay (per illness) and thereafter the SS takes over at 75% of full pay for upto 1 year.

      After 40 years of work, thankfully with general good health, I have never had my pay docked for sickness, despite flu, sports injuries (busted leg) and minor operations - hernia repair etc)

    •  Your employees are lucky people to have found you (0+ / 0-)

      My former employer had no written sick or vacation policy - we just took the time we needed and acted like adults in making sure the office stayed properly staffed at all times and took work home or worked weekends to make up for any backlog. He made us feel like we mattered to his success and rewarded us for our loyalty. Of course, our company was only six people plus him, so this was manageable and very rarely ever abused.

      This all went away when he sold the company to a large international firm and we now abide by a rigid set of written rules governing PTO and must use our PTO up fully before we can opt to take unpaid time off.

  •  Yes (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    harrije, Ahianne

    If they have that as a written policy, they are on solid ground.

    Typically though I've never had a problem allowing an employee to go slightly " in the hole" for one trip in a year unless there are other performance issues or they were already in the hole to start with.  

    Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

    by Wisper on Tue Apr 30, 2013 at 06:18:09 PM PDT

  •  Go in to work and vomit all over them next time (5+ / 0-)

    you're sick, and refuse to use the sick time?

  •  Work until you die (0+ / 0-)

    On your deathbed, your only regret should be that you did not work more.  Get with the program, people!

    Seriously, my sense is that communications with your direct manager aren't great, and that's at the root of your questions, concerns, and worries.

  •  Yep, drop dead on the job and you know what? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    worldlotus, Ahianne

    Management will be out on the floor shouting, "Crap, John Doe's dead - the rest of you, pick up the slack!"

    I hate PTO - I want my leave separated out into vacation and sick, because sick isn't a vacation!

    Of course, I no longer have that choice since I'm now looking for work.  I'll have to take whatever is offered by whoever I can convince to hire me.

    Oh, joy ....

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