Ask HR: Does PTO cover Sick & Vacation leave?

Dear HR,

This new sick time law is still so confusing! My company offers 40 hours of PTO to our employees every year on January 1st. PTO can be used for vacation days, personal time, or any qualifying sick time reason.  One of my employees used his 40 hours of PTO in February to go on vacation. Now they want to use 8 hours of sick time for an absence last Monday when he was home sick. He says I owe him 40 hours of sick time because the time he used back in February was for vacation.  Do we have to pay him for this absence since he already used all of his PTO for the year?


HR Answer:

No  If your employee has exhausted all his PTO available, you are not obligated to provide additional leave for sick time since your PTO policy is ‘substantially equivalent’ to the minimum requirements of the Oregon sick time law.




It is very important to keep your employees educated and informed on these policies. When policies are clearly communicated to employees in your employee handbook, these types of problems can often be avoided. However, keep in mind you may be obligated to award the employee additional time off under other federal or state family leave laws, or other laws not related to Oregon’s sick time law. If you need assistance determining how to track employee absences or have additional questions about Oregon sick time, please feel free to contact us.