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  1. #1
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    Apr 2013
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    Default Accumulated Paid Time Off (PTO)

    My question involves PTO in the State of New Jersey. My hourly wage is $31.00/hr. I accumulated PTO and the first time I used it was about a year ago and I took 8 hours of PTO and it was given to me at my hourly wage of $31.00. Just last week I took 20 hour of my PTO and they only gave me four hours of my pto, not 20 like I asked, and they gave it to me at a rate of $24.00 dollars an hour and not my $31.00/hr. Can they do this? I'm so discussed. I haven't confronted them, but I plan to. Oh, and this is a "for profit health care facility" that I work for. What are my rights? What can I do? Please help. I believe I am an excellent employee. In four years I only called pit twice. I'm never late and never get a bad report about anything. I have been searching for another job in the past 3 weeks. Maybe they found out about it because on the employment application where they ask if they can contact your employer, I put yes. Please help.
    Also, they gave me a 50 cent raise in 2010, then after a week forgot to put it in my pay until I had to remind them, then they took it out again. I haven't had a raise since 2010. I believe if I were a man they would never do this. Just my opinion.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Accumulated Paid Time Off (PTO)

    Barring a legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA that expressly and in so many words says otherwise, no non-exempt employee is EVER entitled to be paid for time they did not work. There is NO requirement that you received paid PTO at any rate at all. So yes, they can do that. They can, if they want, not pay you at all for that time.

    Likewise, the ONLY time your employer is required to give you a raise is if minimum wage is raised by the appropriate legislative body and your current wage is below the new minimum.

    Do you have any EVIDENCE that a man would receive different treatment?

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Accumulated Paid Time Off (PTO)

    At the same time, agreed compensation schemes should only be changed prospectively.

    Are we talking about written policies here?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Accumulated Paid Time Off (PTO)

    With respect, while I agree that some states have a statutory requirement that all wage changes be prospective, NJ is not one of those states. It's certainly best practice - it's not a legal requirement in NJ.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Accumulated Paid Time Off (PTO)

    There has to be more to the story than that. The exchange of wages for labor is a basic contract. Do you have a statute or case that I could look at? Thanks.

    Added: This is what I have found:
    Quote Quoting NJSA 34:11-4.6. Dissemination of information; records
    Every employer shall:

    a. Notify his employees at the time of hiring, of the rate of pay, and of the regular payday designated by the employer in accordance with section 2 of this act.

    b. Notify his employees of any changes in the pay rates or pay days prior to the time of such changes.

    c. Furnish each employee with a statement of deductions made from his wages in accordance with section 4 of this act for each pay period such deductions are made.

    d. Keep posted in a place accessible to his employees an abstract of this act furnished by the commissioner, and

    e. Make such records as to the persons employed by him, including wage and hour records and preserve such records for such periods of time, as the commissioner shall prescribe by regulation as necessary or appropriate for the enforcement of the provisions of this act, provided that records of the number of hours worked shall not be required as to any person employed in a bona fide executive, administrative or professional capacity or in the capacity of outside salesman 18 years of age or older where the wages of such person or persons are not determined by the number of hours worked.
    It may well be that the employer is exercising its right to change the PTO policy prospectively, without notice, and that under the terms of the policy the compensation is governed by the policy in effect at the time the request is made; but that's a different issue than retroactively modifying earned wages. It would remain helpful to know if anything is in writing.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Accumulated Paid Time Off (PTO)

    Mr. K, let's not forget that she's a non-exempt employee talking about PTO pay - something to which she has no inherent right under either Federal or state law - in any state. This is not pay for hours worked - this is pay for hours NOT worked.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Accumulated Paid Time Off (PTO)

    Correct; either way it's a change of compensation - but not necessarily of "pay rate" as contemplated by the statute described above. I suspect that the employer is taking the position that PTO requests are payable under the policy in effect at the time of the request, consistent with your position that the employer can change that policy without prior notice to the employee (distinguishing them from, for example, a commission structure).

    We can't really do more than speculate about the policies unless we're provided additional information. If the policies were never reduced to writing... we've probably reached the limit of what we can say.

  8. #8
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    Apr 2013
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    Default Re: Accumulated Paid Time Off (PTO)

    I have an employee handbook and there is a section in this handbook that describes PTO under Benefits. It reads as followed: After working 2,000 hours, you'll earn paid time off based on the average number of hours you work each week. PTO hours can be accumulated until you're ready to use them. It doesn't state anywhere in the handbook allowing the employer to reduce the hourly rate of an employee's PTO hours. I work at $31.00 per hour, I should get my PTO hour at the same rate and not less. So if what you're saying is true, then my employer can pay me $2.00 per PTO hour. It makes no sense!

    There must be something I can do. If you worked at $31.00 per hour and during the months you've earned PTO time at that rate, one would expect to get their PTO at the same rate that they worked. The last time I took my PTO they gave it to me at my hourly rate. Do you understand what I'm trying to convey here? Isn't that breaking the rules? Can I write about my experience over the Internet and mention the company's name, such as on Glassdoor.com? Should I seek counsel, or am I wasting my time?

    - - - Updated - - -

    cbg, can you put what you just wrote in layman's terms? And there IS requirement that I receive PTO for it's in our employee's handbook, cbg.
    As for EVIDENCE that a man would receive different treatment. The field I work in is predominantly women and if it were predominantly men, there would be no question as to reducing a man's PTO hourly wage from his normal hourly wage because one would infer that the man has a family that depends on him. Just saying. Oh, and thanks for responding, but I need you to give me a little more confidence that I can make a federal case out of this. Thanks.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Mr. Knowitall, what do you me by "compensation schemes"? I have an employee handbook that reads we are entitled to PTO, but that is not my question. My question lies in the dollar amount I was paid for my PTO did not match my regular hourly wage of $31.00 per hour. Ya see what I'm saying?

    - - - Updated - - -

    Someone please help me. It's not fair what this company has done. They brag that we are their greatest assets. Well, if everyone treated their assets like they treat theirs, we all be poor. I guess that's why their door is always revolving.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Accumulated Paid Time Off (PTO)

    Your company has a policy on PTO that is causing it to say, "Your compensation for PTO is set at $24 per hour, not $31 per hour." The employee handbook provision you quote doesn't inform us how compensation for PTO is determined. Is there a policy on how PTO compensation is determined? If so, what is it, when was it last amended, and is it in writing?

    If it's a route you wish to consider, information on wage complaints can be found here.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Accumulated Paid Time Off (PTO)

    You can't make a Federal case out of this, because the applicable laws are state, not Federal. Federal law does not care one whit if you get paid a single penny for vacation or PTO time, and Federal law makes it absolutely clear that any agreement to pay you for time you do not work is between you and the employer and has nothing whatsoever to do with them. As far as Federal law is concerned, you're on your own as far as the rate you get paid for PTO and you're on your own with regards to whether you ever get a raise. If you're getting paid $7.25 an hour or more for all hours worked and overtime when worked, Federal law is satisfied and will consider that you have been paid correctly. As for whether a man would be treated differently, you're going to need a whole lot more than you've posted here to make a supportable claim, Federal or otherwise.

    An employee handbook is a guideline, not a law book. I reiterate, nowhere in the LAW does it say that you have to be paid for any time you do not work, with very limited exceptions that do not apply here. There is no law that says you have to get paid vacation, paid sick time, paid time off of any kind. If your employer does provide paid time off, there is no law that says it has to be at the same rate that you would be paid if you were working. Whether you receive paid time off, and if so at what rate, is SOLELY a determination made by your employer. You're getting WAY ahead of yourself since you haven't even inquired about this yet. But if you're looking to go in there guns blazing to show them the laws that say they CANNOT pay you at any rate but the exact rate you always get, you can't. There is no such law. As far as the law is concerned, they CAN. There is no law prohibiting them from doing so. With employment law, any action is legal unless there is a law that says specifically and in so many words says that it isn't. NO LAW EXISTS THAT SAYS THAT PTO HAS TO BE PAID AT THE SAME RATE AT WHICH YOU ARE NORMALLY PAID - OR AT ALL. I do not know how to make it any more clear than that. Your employment handbook is NOT a law.

    At this point instead of "making a Federal case out of it" you need to ASK them (remembering an old adage about flies, honey and vinegar) whether or not it was a mistake. If they say it was not a mistake, then you need to ASK what the reasoning is. If there is currently a uniformly applied policy as to the payment of PTO and paying $24 instead of $31 is within that policy, then you're on your own there as far as state law goes, too. ONLY if this is a violation of the policy as it currently stands (and as already indicated, nothing you've posted to now suggests that your handbook indicates the rate at which the PTO will be paid) will a wage complaint be a possible resource. The law does not prohibit them from changing their policy, so the fact that you were paid at your current rate last time does not preclude the possibility that the policy has changed in the interim.

    There are states that say that your employer cannot change the rate at which you are paid, or any of the terms and conditions under which you were hired, without written notice to you at least x days in advance. NJ is NOT one of those states. You'll see it stated in many threads that your employer cannot reduce your pay without notice but that is not a Federal law, it is a state law and one that not all states have. I can find nothing in the NJ statutes, and I looked, that suggests there is any such requirement in your state.

    As for raises, neither Federal nor state law requires that you EVER get a raise except under the circumstances indicated. Currently both state and Federal minimum wage is $7.25. If you were earning $7.25 and minimum wage was raised by either the NJ state legislature or an act of Congress to $9, then you would have to get a raise from $7.25 to $9. Since you are already earning considerably more than that, barring a legally enforceable contract or CBA that expressly says otherwise (note that an employee handbook is neither) there are NO other circumstances, EVER, under which either Federal or state law cares if you get a raise or not.

    Once again, you're going to need a WHOLE lot more than "I don't think they'd do this if I were a man" to support a gender discrimination claim.

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