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Can an Employer Deny Time Off?

In general, an employer has the right to deny a vacation request from an employee. However, the specific circumstances surrounding the employee’s request and the employer’s reasons for denying the time-off request can be subject to legal limitations.

Under federal law in the United States, there is no requirement that employers provide employees with paid vacation time or time-off, although some states and cities have enacted laws that require employers to provide employees with paid sick time or other forms of paid time off. In states that don’t have such laws, employers generally have control to create their own policies regarding time off, including vacation requests, denied vacation time, paid leave, sick days, and personal days.

There are legal limitations on an employer’s ability to deny time off in certain circumstances. Under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in the United States, eligible employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off per year for certain family and medical reasons, such as the birth or adoption of a child, or to care for a seriously ill family member. Employers are required to grant FMLA leave to eligible employees who request it, and are generally prohibited from retaliating against employees who take FMLA leave.

In addition to legal requirements, an employer’s policies and practices regarding time off may be subject to any withstanding agreements or contracts with employees. Employers must abide by the terms of their agreement or contract when making decisions about PTO requests or when an employee requests time off.

Overall, while employers generally have the right to deny a PTO request or time off request, they must do so in compliance with applicable state law and agreements, and without engaging in discrimination or retaliation against employees who exercise their legal rights to take time off, especially for unpaid time off.


PTO Law in California

Under California law, accrued vacation time is considered earned wages, and as such, it cannot be taken away from the employee once those vacation days have been earned. This means that California employers must allow their employees to use their accrued time when the employee requests it. In addition, an employer cannot require employees to have a “use-it-or-lose-it” policy, under which unused vacation time would be forfeited at the end of the year or other period.

Employers are also required to pay employees for accrued, but unused, vacation time when the employment relationship ends, whether the employer fires them, or they resign. This means that an employer cannot simply forfeit an employee’s accrued vacation time when the employment relationship ends; they are legally required to pay them out for it.

In California, sick time is also considered a form of PTO, and employers are required to provide eligible employees with paid sick leave. Under California law, eligible employees accrue at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 24 hours per year. Under PTO policy, employers are required to allow employees to use their accrued sick leave for their own illness, injury, or medical treatment, or to care for a family member’s illness, injury, or medical treatment.

It’s important to note that the rules regarding a PTO request in California can be complex, and there are a few exceptions and exemptions that may apply in certain circumstances for many employers and employees.

Lawyers for Justice, PC enforces the California Family Rights Act for clients and they are a powerful voice for employees who have questions or feel they have been wronged by their employer. Some human resources department officials can answer questions on HR compliance, but for any other employee issues, it might be best to consult with an experienced employment law attorney. Call (818) JUSTICE today for a FREE consultation.



can employer deny sick day in California? No, most employers will not fire an employee for using PTO. But, at-will employees can be fired at any time for any reason that doesn’t violate the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission policy. Employees do need to follow proper time-off request policies & return to work as agreed.


can you use sick days for vacation California? Yes, but an employer may limit or cap the overall amount of sick leave an employee may accrue to 6 days or 48 hours.


can your employer ask why you need a personal day? No, you do not need to give a reason for why you are taking a personal day. Your employer may ask, and you can give an answer if you choose, but employees generally do not need to give an answer.


can employer deny sick day in California? An employer should not deny an employee the right to use accrued sick days. If the employer discharges, threatens to discharge, demotes, suspends, or discriminates against an employee for using accrued sick days, you should call an attorney immediately.