PTO v. Sick Leave for Family Emergency

I’ve been told that I have to use PTO instead of sick leave for the week I took off to be with my mom in the hospital following her stroke, and it’s left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. I was anticipating using some of that time off to get married this month, and take some time off around the holidays. I’ve still got some PTO left though, so I’m not too upset, but depending on how things go with my mom I may have to keep that in the bank just in case.

I’m curious what the policy is like where other people work, though. Do you have to use your vacation days to care for your family, or do you have sick leave or another way to manage it?

Help some of us out. PTO?

Sorry, PTO = Paid Time Off, or vacation days that are accrued on a monthly basis that you have to schedule to use. As opposed to sick leave, which is something you can use on an unscheduled basis, well, when you’re sick.

Where I work, we only have PTO. Sick leave, family emergency, just feel like taking a day off, extra days around holidays (like the day after Thanksgiving, or Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve) - all of it comes from one pool.

Paid Time Off, or “Vacation” in common parlance.

And it’s not unusual, if a little unfortunate, that you have to use vacation days to care for your mother. It’s time off you are taking not because you are sick, but because a family member is, and a lot of companies treat that as voluntary time off, not sick time.

Even if you were to try to invoke the FMLA (assuming you’re in the USA), oftentimes you will be required to use up all your PTO beforehand.

So it’s not odd, I have seen it in most places I have worked. I’m sorry your mom is ill, I hope she recovers. This kinda sucky thing happening can really mess up your honeymoon plans, etc. Sometimes, if you can afford it, a company will allow you to take unpaid time off. Whatever you do, avoid taking blatantly obvious “sick days” to cover something, as this can work against you should you need to seek alternate employment.

Thanks! Never heard it called that.

Everywhere I’ve worked, “sick leave” has had a definition of who it applied to. Most places that included oneself and any “nuclear family” persons: parent, sibling, spouse, or child. If your workplace has such a definition and it doesn’t include parents, I think you’re SOL. If it doesn’t have such a definition, I think you’re at the mercy of whoever decides, unless you want to file a grievance.

Yeah, everywhere else I have worked included immediate family in the definition, which is why I was a little put out to hear otherwise.

Oh well, I guess these days we should all be lucky that we have jobs that allow for vacation time at all. Still, the timing just kind of sucks. :frowning:

Yeah, that’s how it is for me, too. I can see how that would suck if it wasn’t and you had to use vacation days for what is really an illness.

But congratulations on the upcoming marriage, JETGIRL! :slight_smile:

I think you should talk to HR. I think that caring for you mother after her stroke would be covered under FMLA which isn’t your pto or sick leave.
That being said, I think I worked for your boss. Going to the dentist was applied to my pto because I wasn’t sick…

My current job we just get leave and can take it as needed. This is a bonus for us that rarely get sick.

At my current job, a nonprofit educational institution, I have a single PTO bucket that’s used for everything, but it’s generally large enough to accomodate.

At my last job, a bank’s corporate office, we had two “buckets”. There was PTO, used for vacation, sick leave, and more or less whatever you wanted; then there was Family Care Time, which was ostensibly used for care of one’s immediate family – as the policy was written, it would cover your situation, provided you got some kind of doctor’s note from the hospital – but in practice meant “people with kids get two more weeks of vacation than you”.

If you had kids, you could take off whenever to “pick up Junior up from school” or such, and proof requirements be damned. If you didn’t, your parents or brother or what-have-you had better be on death’s door, and you’d best have these forms signed in triplicate. As far as I could tell, this unwritten rule existed in all departments at all levels. I damn near made up a pregnant wife just so I could take the damned days.

Addendum: I just IM’d my friend who still works there, and he informs me that they got rid of the evidence requirements altogether. There has, of course, been a remarkably coincidental spike in the number of sick parents and injured siblings. The logical thing to do would be to combine PTO and FCT into one bucket, so of course, the two options being tabled are reinstituting the evidence requirement (and, presumably, the “kids first” rule), or else eliminating the extra time entirely.

Second addendum: this was longer than I intended. I guess I’m just that happy to no longer be working there. I should talk to my friend more often…I feel bad for the guy, but it sure brightens up my workdays!

Yes, but you wouldn’t have to be paid for it:

"Q: Does the law guarantee paid time off?

No. The FMLA only requires unpaid leave. However, the law permits an employee to elect, or the employer to require the employee, to use accrued paid vacation leave or, subject to certain restrictions, sick or family leave, for some or all of the FMLA leave period. When paid leave is substituted for unpaid FMLA leave, it may be counted against the 12-week FMLA leave entitlement."

I get no paid time off other than my two weeks vacation. No sick days, no personal days, just my two weeks.

If I need to go in for a biopsy or get the flu and need to take a day off, it all comes out of my vacation.

At my last full-time job, sick leave was for employee illness only, but it was very generous, something like 6 months or a year of paid time, if you were sick enough to need it. Caring for others came out of vacation time. After vacation time, it was unpaid.

Eva Luna had it right regarding the FMLA.

Not sure what state you are employed in JetGirl, but as an employer, PTO is accrued and used in any situation where the employee is off with only two exceptions:

  1. Employee’s choice to use or not use PTO when on Pregnancy Disability Leave. (by law in CA)
  2. Employee’s choice to use or not use PTO if employee is summoned for jury duty. (by my choice when summons went from Municipal Court to Superior Court summons)

All other uses are required to use PTO and are legal. Our company used to give out on an annual basis (accrued daily) 5 vacation days, 5 sick days and 4 optional holidays. The problem became clear when my sickies burned up all of the sick time and wanted to use vaction time AND all of my vacationers wanted to use the sick time for extended vacations. So I struck a deal with my employees that I would combine all accrued time and labeled it “PTO” and it was used for ANY time off with the two exceptions noted above. That alleviated most of the issues except for my chronic absentee people who I dealt with in other ways that shall go unmentioned here.

I’ve had it work pretty much every way. Currently I’m salaried - I get vacation days that are vacation - and sick time for pretty much anything else - include family being ill. But I’ve also had sixty hour work weeks, so there is a give and take in that arrangement. I’ve had one big PTO pool.

I believe Minnesota’s state law is that sick time given must be able to be used to care for children, but I don’t believe it makes provision for parents.

Another vote for talking to HR. Further, get a copy of the policy in writing. My experience with FMLA was that it was rarely used in my company and thus no one was really familiar with the rules.