Can My Employer Force Me to Use Vacation or PTO Before I Receive PFL Benefits?

Under California law, your employer can require you to use up to two weeks of PTO or vacation before you’re eligible to receive any PFL benefits. After the two weeks are up, you will begin to receive PFL benefits. If you have any vacation or PTO left at that point, you may choose to integrate it with your PFL benefits. Your employer cannot require you to use your accrued sick leave, though.

Example: Carlton’s employer makes him use two weeks of PTO, and he chooses to use a third week of PTO. Because his employer is requiring him to use two weeks of PTO, he won’t be eligible for PFL benefits until his third week of leave. For weeks three through five, he will receive 55% of his wages in PFL benefits. The remaining week of PTO that he chooses to use will be applied each week until it runs out.

  • Week 1: The first week is a waiting period, during which no PFL benefits are paid. Carlton will receive the first week of mandatory PTO.
  • Week 2: Carlton will receive the second week of mandatory PTO. Because his employer is requiring the PTO use, he’s not yet eligible for PFL benefits.
  • Week 3: Carlton will receive 55% of his wages in PFL benefits. The other 45% of his wages will come from PTO (18 hours). He has 22 hours of PTO left (40 minus 18).
  • Week 4: Carlton will receive 55% of his wages in PFL benefits. The other 45% of his wages will come from PTO (18 hours). He has four hours of PTO left (22 minus 18).
  • Week 5: Carlton will receive 55% of his wages in PFL benefits. His last four hours of PTO will be paid out. He will not receive his full salary for this week.

Go back to main page of California Paid Family Leave FAQ

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