Paid time off (PTO) can include vacation time and personal time, depending on how the employer does it. Paid time off is any hours you accrue that you can miss work and still be paid for that time. Some employers classify it as vacation time, some call it personal time, some label it as sick time, and some just stick to general paid time off.

If you believe that you are owed paid time off and that your employer is withholding it from you, our Clearwater labor standards lawyers are here to help.

Paid Time Off Regulations

In Clearwater, unless an employee is a union member, there is not a general requirement for a certain amount of paid time off. The guidelines that regulate paid time off are usually set by the employer, so if employees have some kind of agreement with the employer, that agreement typically stands with regards to paid time off.

If an employer says that an employee has no paid time off and the employee agreed to it, or if they say the employee has two weeks a year accrued over time and they agree, that is the paid time off. There is nothing that requires a certain amount of paid time off unless an employee is unionized.

Paid time off is usually governed by the employment contract, which means it is something an employee negotiates with their employer as part of their employment contract. Employees can agree to two weeks a year, one week, or no paid time off. In Florida, whatever the employment contract says is what rules. So, if an individual agreed to no paid time off, that is what the employment contract states and is the rule under which the employee abides by in their employment.

When You Believe You are Owed Paid Time Off

If an individual believes that they are owed paid time off, the first thing they need to do is find their employment contract. That can be a written document, a typed document, an email, even a text. It is wherever an employee agreed with their employer that they get their paid time off and whatever way they receive it.

Sometimes at the end of the year, employees can be paid for the number of days they did not use their paid time off. Sometimes when an employee’s contract is terminated, they can get the paid time off they accrued. Some employment contracts state that if an employee is terminated or if they quit, they do not get their paid time off. So, the first thing a person really needs to get is the written documentation they have of their employment contract explaining how the paid time off works.

The employee should contact a fair labor lawyer and have the attorney examine the documentation they have. The lawyer will notify the employer formally with written correspondence so that the employer knows that if they dispute this paid time off, it will be litigated. They know what repercussions can come in the future if they do not compensate their employee for the paid time off they agreed to pay within the employment contract.

Role of an Attorney

An attorney can go through all of your employment documentation, and will know what to be looking for. Lawyers can help laypeople who do not understand the court system or the judicial system to walk them through the process appropriately, and guide them through the small steps that could easily be overlooked, but may make all the difference in a case.

Your lawyer can interview anybody that may be a witness to your employment contract and what you agreed to with your employer. You can formally request certain documentation and take depositions of witnesses to get their statements under oath. Once your attorney contacts your employer, they usually hire counsel to try to figure out exactly what the employment contract states. If the case needs to be filed in court, your attorney can also help you with that so that you can get the litigation process rolling.

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