Fairfield, CA asked in Employment Law for California

Q: Can an employer reduce the dollar value of pto already earned after reducing salary?

I had accured over 120 hours of pto at my previous wage but after covid the company reduced our salary and stated that all pto earned at the previous salary will be valued at the reduced salary rate.

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2 Lawyer Answers
Alex Sliheet
Alex Sliheet

A: Once it is earned under California law it cannot be taken away

Maurice Mandel II
Maurice Mandel II
  • Newport Beach, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Once wages are earned the employer cannot take them back or require the employee to agree to a reduction. There are specific statutes in the Labor Code that prohibit this. Your PTO is considered a part of your wages, therefore, the dollar value is as of the date it is earned, not the date they are redeemed. (cases say the wages become your at the time you earn them, not when paid) Reducing wages after earning is prohibited by the labor code. The problem is that most often the dollar amount is not high enough for a single employee to be able to retain legal counsel. If you have a group, the total value goes up and you might interest an attorney. Attorney fees could be available. Or if you want to take it yourself to the Labor Commissioner, these would be options.

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