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PTO and the Exempt Employee

My company (which claims to be family-friendly) has recently had discussions regarding PTO and salaried employment I would like to know the legality of.

For emample, as an exempt HR employee, I am required to work until the job is done. Sometimes this means 60 hours a week plus weekends and evenings and a few very early mornings. If I have worked 60 hours and take Friday off to stay home with my child due to a daycare issue yet still work from home a full 8 hours, I am required to take 8 hours of PTO. In my position, I am able to perform the majority of my job tasks remotely (I work PR and marketing).

If I take a half day one day during the week, I am required to take PTO for that day even if I work 16 hours on the weekend (the weekend before or after).

Is this fair or legal? Or, is it just not very nice.

Also, my CEO is considering allowing certain employees (those living 30 minutes or farther from the place of employment) to work 4 10 hour days. Considering I work 4 12-hour days and still have to come in on the 5th, 6th and 7th day of the week, I don’t see how this is fair.

So, I am asking the legality. I already know it’s not very nice.


Unfortunately, too often a company’s family friendly policies dont apply to salaried exempt workers. As you have pointed out, this is not fair. It is legal, but it is — as you so succinctly put it — not very nice.

A salaried exempt employee must be paid hir or her entire salary for the day, when they work even one hour of the day, under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act or FLSA. However, the FLSA doesn’t address the use of PTO. As long as the employee is paid, it doesnt matter whether the payment is considered wages or Paid Time Off, under federal law. Also under the FLSA, a salaried exempt employee need not be paid for any day that he or she does no work. So, if you stayed home with a sick child and did no work during that time, the employer could legitimately not pay you at all for that day.

If the employer did not pay you at all for a day when you worked an hour or more, that would be a violation of federal law. But as long as your check is the same amount each week, federal law is not concerned with whether the employer considers it salary or PTO.

There are no federal regulations for PTO or Paid Time Off because federal law does not require employers to offer PTO (or vacation, or sick time.) Employers who offer PTO are free to set any limitations they like on it. In this case, the employer is making it clear that they do not want you to work from home. Clearly they value employees who live more than 30 minutes away more than the do you. They are also sending a clear message that they are not, in fact, a family friendly environment for salaried exempt employees.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 5th, 2008 at 10:26 am and is filed under
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2 Responses to “PTO and the Exempt Employee”

  1. Sandra Pratte Says:

    I recently retired from a company that recieves Federal mony and they said they will not pay me my PTO TIME WHICH AMOUNTS TO 57 HOURS that I should be paid for unused vacation time. What does the Federal law state for a company to pay the PTO time? I was not a salaryed person.

    Thank YOU

    Sandra Pratte

  2. Caitlin Says:

    Hi Sandra! No, there is no federal law that requires employers to pay unused vacation at termination. This is a matter of state law. A handful of states including Louisiana, Illinois and California do require employers to pay out vacation at termination. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Caitlin

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