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Texas Employment Law: Don't Wait to Take Your PTO

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Houston, TXPete did his company a service by not taking Paid Time Off (PTO) in over four years of employment. Yesterday was his last day of work. He has accrued 150 hours of PTO, but Texas Employment law does not require that employers pay workers for earned but unused vacation upon termination, unless the employer has a written policy or past practice of doing so.

"I'm a clinician (a physician assistant) and it was not convenient to use up all of my PTO," says Pete (real name withheld). "I understand that the employment law in Texas states that if you don't use this time, you can't take it with you when you leave. But instead of taking PTO, I chose to work…

"A number of my colleagues have been in the same situation; they just grumbled and left. . . but I grumble and fight."
Essentially this is my beef: I feel that PTO is time earned and by not taking the time off I was able to produce more income for this practice—head and shoulders above what I would have been paid for sitting at home and watching the grass grow."

Pete says that when he left his New York practice, he got a $10,000 check for unused PTO. Although he knows the clinic's PTO policy, Pete wants to seek legal help to find out if he has any recourse.

"If nothing can be done, I will just chalk it up to experience and move on to my new job that starts Monday," Pete says. "Perhaps next time I should forget my obligations to patients and staff and take the PTO." But he doesn't mean it; he is a conscientious employee and he cares about his patients. "There are people at this clinic who do that but not me. I worked at this clinic four years and four months with an excellent work record. And I have never missed a job for sickness in 45 years of my working life."

Pete calculates that he is owed four weeks of pay, about $8,000—a substantial amount of money to walk away from.

"I gave my notice six weeks ago and extended it two extra weeks to help them out… I emailed the CEO of the clinic yesterday afternoon—he is on vacation until Monday—requesting that my PTO is paid. So now I'm waiting for a reply. A number of my colleagues have been in the same situation; they just grumbled and left. But I am from New York so I grumble and fight and stand up for my rights."

If Pete's employers have a written policy, possibly in an employee handbook that details the Texas Employment rules regarding paid time off, he may not have any recourse. Some states recognize that PTO is often a combination of vacation and sick time, while in other states like New York, PTO is considered earned wages, and the employee receives payment for all accrued PTO upon termination.

Pete will likely study his next employer's PTO policy more carefully and take his PTO sooner than later.

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READER COMMENTS

Posted by

on
My son just discovered that his manager is entering in earned PTO time on his time card without his permission; time he was saving for vacation. Is that legal?

Posted by

on
Pete, a company I worked for did the exact same thing. However, did they did tell us they were going to do it at the end of 2014. Problem is, even with that info. we couldn't do anything b/c we had to work b/c we often had no staff. Staff or no staff, the company sucked so I took what amounted to about 8 weeks over the span of 2015. When I left that company a few weeks ago and received my last check yesterday, I noticed they paid me for the 80+ hours I had when I left at the end of Jan. 2016. Just like any bottom feeding company, the jerks only paid me at 50%. My advice to you: TAKE YOUR VACATION TIME NOW.

Posted by

on
In early 2015 the company I work for was sold to a new employer. During the summer they changed our vacation policy and communicated the new policy in written and oral forms. The new policy detailed how much PTO (paid Time Off) we would accrue and when it could be used. In my case, I am an exemptemployee, I was told that all of my PTO would carry over into 2016 and that I would not start accruing time until my anniversary date in 2016(October). Given that plan I opted to save some of my time from 2015 to make it through the first three quarters of 2016. I and most everyone were ok with this, though it was a big change.
The problem I have now is that with three hours left in 2015 they sent out a new policy stating that effective immediately they would only allow us to roll 80 hours over into the next year. I had 176 hours accrued. The result is that I went from 176 accrued hours to 80 and would just lose the other 96 hours unless I used it before the end of the year, which was only three hours away. I live in Texas. I need to know if it is legal for them to steal my 96 hours in this manner, along with thousands of hours from thousands of other employees in Texas.

Posted by

on
I left American Airlines with a bunch of sick time went to American Eagle in SMF then they gave me 45days to find another job unpaid I found a job back a American Airlines. I did not get my sick time at either company. How do I fight for that...

Posted by

on
The company I work for lost power. They are making us leave for the day and telling us we need to use personal time. It does not sound right to me. (Texas)

Posted by

on
I worked as a part time employ with express professional Irving Texas. And i applied for one day vacation which was approved by client supervisor and also express on site supervisor. According to there policy they can give the paid time off after completion of 1800 working hours. But i completed more than 2000 hrs and quit the company whitout any objection and also asked then for my PTO as well as experience letter.
But when i asked them, then they refused to pay me my earned PTO money. What they said that you could have claim that while working not for cashwell reedeamable. Even they have not paid me the money for the an approved vacation.
I do not know how to get my PTO money with experience letter.

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