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  4.  | Can your employer prevent you from taking paid leave?

Can your employer prevent you from taking paid leave?

Paid time off (PTO) or paid leave is a common benefit offered by employers. Some companies grant workers PTO based on the number of hours worked. Others look at how many years an employee has been with the company and will increase workers’ PTO when they reach certain milestones, such as five years of continuous employment.

Workers may use their paid leave when they are sick or when they have a family emergency. They can also schedule advance leave for holidays and vacations. Many workers in California understandably wonder when it is and isn’t lawful for an employer to refuse to let them use their paid leave.

Companies can refuse specific PTO requests

The ability to take paid leave is a benefit, not necessarily right. Companies that offer leave often impose multiple stipulations for workers using such benefits. Advance notice is typically necessary for extended leave, and management approval may be part of the process.

If someone from management or human resources determines that they cannot permit a specific leave request, an employer can deny a worker’s requested time off. Doing so is not a violation of a worker’s rights.

Issues start to arise when companies rescind previously-granted leave with little notice or when refusing to let a worker take leave might mean that they lose accrued hours. PTO is technically a form of wages in California, which means depriving workers of their right to use such benefits could be a wage violation.

Workers can fight back against abusive practices

If a company refuses to let workers schedule any paid and then also attaches an expiration date to their PTO benefits, those practices could be a violation of their workers’ rights. The more common it is for employees to have all of their leave requests canceled or denied by management and the more hours of paid leave people lose as a result, the more likely it is that staff members may have rounds to bring a claim against the company.

Documenting how a company denies workers leave and deprives them of paid benefits can be a lengthy process, but it can potentially result in a successful claim. Workers could force a company to change its practices and could potentially secure compensation for their denied paid leave.

When companies do not abide by their own promises to their workforce, their employees may need to push back against those unfair practices. Filing a wage claim could potentially help those who have been denied paid leave benefits despite being promised these benefits as part of their compensation.


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