I’m an exempt, salaried employee. I’ve been in my position for a year. I recently learned that my employer has been using a full 8 hours of PTO for every full day I’m gone – regardless of whether I still managed to put in a full 40-hour work week.
For example: I work 8 hours each on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, am sick on Thursday, and work 8 hours each on Friday and Saturday. In this situation, I work and am paid for 40 hours, but my employer also uses 8 hours of PTO. Here’s another example: I work 8 hours each on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, have a 2-hour appointment on Thursday but work 8 hours, and work 8 hours each on Friday and Saturday. I’ve effectively worked 48 hours, get paid for 40, and my employer still uses 2 hours of PTO.
Regardless of the fact that I obviously work too much, and this policy is reverse incentive to work more than absolutely necessary, not to mention wholly unscrupulous and downright evil, I have nonetheless “lost” over 25 hours of paid time off in the last six months alone. Oh, and this unwritten policy was not disclosed to me until this week. Do you have insight into the legalities of this and/or ways to recoup my lost PTO?
First, a question. Who is docking your PTO? Because that is the person I would start with.
It makes sense to me that if you miss a Wednesday because you are sick, and sick days count against your Paid Time Off (PTO) that you would be “charged” 8 hours of PTO. Since Saturday isn’t a normal work day, it wouldn’t be logical to assume that because you were sick during the week you’ll work Saturday. What would be logical is for you to say to your boss, “Jan, since I had to take Wednesday off because I was sick, I’d like to work on Saturday to make up the time so I’m not charged against my PTO bank.”
Jan can say yes or no (and, by the way, I think in this example, it would be perfectly legal to do so but any of you lawyers out there feel free to correct me). If Jan is a smart boss, she’ll say yes.
Being charged for taking two hours off in the middle of the day chaps my hide, by the way. Especially if you still end up working at least 8 hours.
You say this policy is unwritten. It may be just how whoever is tracking this chooses to do so. No one cares about your vacation time like you do. You need to make sure you are on top of this.
It should be your boss (or your boss’s boss) who is responsible for tracking PTO. (Actually, I think it should be you, but your company doesn’t.) You need to have a conversation with this person to get clear understanding of how it works. You should ask for flexibility. When you need to take time off you need to be extremely clear about how it will be counted and if additional hours you work can make up for it.
Don’t assume anything. Additionally, after you’ve had your conversation with your boss and she’s approved you taking Wednesday off in exchange for you working Saturday, send her an e-mail that confirms your understanding of the conversation.
If they aren’t willing to be flexible, it may be time to either stop working so much or find a new job. You’re right about how the incentives are all wrong here.
Now, if it’s some other group that is imposing this, you still need to deal with it through your boss. People are much more likely to listen to someone who is advocating for an employee then someone who is advocating for himself.