Can My Boss Deny My Time Off Request?

Has your employer denied your request for time off? Are you wondering if that is legal in California? The answer is “possibly.”

California wage and hour laws do not force employers to give employees paid vacation time or paid time off (PTO). However, if your employer provides PTO, there are rules your employer must follow. Also, some laws require employers to allow employees unpaid time off in specific situations.

Paid Time Off Requirements Under CFRA and FMLA

California employers who have 50 or more employees are subject to the provisions of the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). According to the CFRA, an employer must grant unpaid time off to an employee for up to 12 weeks in certain situations.

The time off must be used to care for a sick family member or recover from a severe health condition. If your employer denies this CFRA time off request, they are breaking the law.

The Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is similar to the CFRA. The FMLA provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off to care for health or family matters. The FMLA’s reasons for requesting unpaid time off are broader in scope than the reasons covered by the CFRA.

As with the CFRA, if your employer denies your request for time off for a reason covered by FMLA, the employer is breaking the law.

Vacation Time and California Employers

An employer can legally deny your request for vacation time in some situations. The employment laws in California give employers the right to manage their employees’ vacation time. The law recognizes that employers may need to deny time off for vacation if too many employees request the same period or seasonal demands require employees to be at work.

Employers have the right to tell their employees when they can take vacations and how much time they may take for vacation during a specific time. For example, an employer may limit vacation time during peak seasons to ensure sufficient staff members are on duty to meet client or customer demands. 

Employers may also require employees to follow specific procedures to request vacation time. For example, employees may need to submit a written request a certain number of days before their requested time off. In addition, they may need to obtain approval from their supervisor or manager before submitting the request to the human resources department. 

Earned vacation time is conserved wages under California wage and labor laws. Therefore, if an employee quits or is fired, the employee is still entitled to all accrued PTO or vacation time. However, employers can place caps on accrued vacation time, and there are a few exceptions to this rule. 

However, in most cases, an employer must pay an employee for accrued PTO or paid vacation time when the employer issues the employee’s final paycheck. A vacation and PTO lawyer can help you file a claim if your employer refuses to compensate you for accrued PTO or vacation time. 

What Should I Do if My Employer Refuses My Request for Time Off?

Many employers offer paid time off or unpaid leave because they understand that employees need a break from work. They also have personal obligations and family obligations they must address. 

The best way to avoid a problem when requesting time off is to know and understand your company’s policies regarding vacation time, PTO, and unpaid time off. If your company has an employer handbook, refer to the handbook for written policies for time off. Make sure that your request for time off follows all procedures and rules.

If you believe your employer has broken laws regarding time off, talk with an employment law attorney. Depending on the situation, you could be entitled to compensation if your employer broke federal or state employment laws. 

When preparing for your meeting with a San Diego employment lawyer, gather together any documents that support your claim. Documents that might help the attorney evaluate your claim include employee handbooks, memos, written policies, and your written request for time off.

The laws regarding paid time off and unpaid leave can be confusing. State and federal employment laws often overlap. In some cases, the employment laws may conflict. A lawyer can help you sort through the confusion and regulations to fight for the benefits or wages you are entitled to receive for PTO and vacation time. 

Get Help With a Denied PTO or Vacation Request 

Learn about your rights as an employee in California from an experienced employment lawyer in San Diego. The more you know about your rights as an employee in California, the better you can protect yourself from workplace discrimination and employer wrongdoing.