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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Posts
    25

    Default Wa State Company Stopped PTO Accrual. Is that legal?

    My question involves labor and employment law for the state of: Washington.

    Earlier this year the company (small business with 10 employees in King county) I work for changed all employees from exempt to hourly, prior to reducing employee work hours due to COVID-19. They also said during pay periods in which employees were scheduled for less than 40 hours, PTO would not be accrued. I had two pay periods of reduced hours, then worked two pay periods at regular hours and then another at reduced hours. I noticed recently, that my PTO hours were incorrect. I questioned the owner and she said that PTO stopped being accrued on 4/10/20 and would be reinstated on 7/3/20.

    I plan to question the discrepancy between what was initially communicated and what is now being communicated. Assuming the owner is going to stick to what is now being communicated, I have the following questions:

    1. Can an employer in WA state stop PTO accrual for hourly employees in general?
    2. Can an employer in WA state stop PTO accrual for hourly employees when they work less than 40 hours per week?

    Note: I earn 4.62 hours of PTO per pay period.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    16,263

    Default Re: Wa State Company Stopped PTO Accrual. Is that legal?

    Quote Quoting rottbach
    View Post
    My question involves labor and employment law for the state of: Washington.

    Earlier this year the company (small business with 10 employees in King county) I work for changed all employees from exempt to hourly, prior to reducing employee work hours due to COVID-19. They also said during pay periods in which employees were scheduled for less than 40 hours, PTO would not be accrued. I had two pay periods of reduced hours, then worked two pay periods at regular hours and then another at reduced hours. I noticed recently, that my PTO hours were incorrect. I questioned the owner and she said that PTO stopped being accrued on 4/10/20 and would be reinstated on 7/3/20.

    I plan to question the discrepancy between what was initially communicated and what is now being communicated. Assuming the owner is going to stick to what is now being communicated, I have the following questions:

    1. Can an employer in WA state stop PTO accrual for hourly employees in general?
    2. Can an employer in WA state stop PTO accrual for hourly employees when they work less than 40 hours per week?

    Note: I earn 4.62 hours of PTO per pay period.
    Yes, they can do that. No employer is required to offer PTO at all. They do it because it's practical, but they are not required to do so.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Posts
    6,933

    Default Re: Wa State Company Stopped PTO Accrual. Is that legal?

    Quote Quoting rottbach
    View Post
    My question involves labor and employment law for the state of: Washington.

    Earlier this year the company (small business with 10 employees in King county) I work for changed all employees from exempt to hourly, prior to reducing employee work hours due to COVID-19. They also said during pay periods in which employees were scheduled for less than 40 hours, PTO would not be accrued. I had two pay periods of reduced hours, then worked two pay periods at regular hours and then another at reduced hours. I noticed recently, that my PTO hours were incorrect. I questioned the owner and she said that PTO stopped being accrued on 4/10/20 and would be reinstated on 7/3/20.

    I plan to question the discrepancy between what was initially communicated and what is now being communicated. Assuming the owner is going to stick to what is now being communicated, I have the following questions:

    1. Can an employer in WA state stop PTO accrual for hourly employees in general?
    2. Can an employer in WA state stop PTO accrual for hourly employees when they work less than 40 hours per week?

    Note: I earn 4.62 hours of PTO per pay period.
    Your employer cannot take away PTO you have already earned but they can suspend or terminate the credit for future hours worked. They can do the same for 401 contributions or make employees take wage cuts as long as you are paid the minimum wage and are paid overtime for over a 40 hour workweek for non-exempt employees.

    The suspension ends in 5 days according to your employer. I would suspect that you will not get credit for the two regular pay periods you worked. It may have been a misunderstanding of what was being said.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    24,440

    Default Re: Wa State Company Stopped PTO Accrual. Is that legal?

    It is true that employers (in all 50 states) can stop PTO accruals on a go forward basis for any employee (regardless of how many hours they work) unless they have a legally binding and enforceable contract that guarantees them the accrual.

    It is also true that an employer can make wage cuts, again on a go forward basis, subject to any notice period required by state law.

    However, unless the 401(k) document expressly states that employer contributions are discretionary, in which case there will be specific circumstances listed as to when they are and are not made, they cannot stop making 401(k) contributions randomly. There are all KINDS of notices and administrative requirements before that can be done.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Posts
    25

    Default Re: Wa State Company Stopped PTO Accrual. Is that legal?

    Thanks guys for the info/insight. It makes sense. The reason I even asked was in WA State a law was passed and enacted in 2018 requiring employers to offer employees paid sick leave [RCW 49.46.210 (https://app.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=49.46.210) and WAC 296-128-700 (https://app.leg.wa.gov/wac/default.a...=296-128-700)]. Thought that might have an impact on an employers obligation to provide PTO. If the state requirement were to be applied to my situation, then the total hours earn only equals 7.5 hours. Hardly worth creating friction with the company over.

    On a side note, I plan to give my two weeks notice to the company next week and will not bring up this issue with them.

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