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Boss Tells Worker He Has To Use PTO For Calling In 10 Minutes Late Or He Will Be Written Up

Photo: fizkes / Shutterstock 
boss, employee, late, pto

After an employee informed his boss that he was running late for work, he was revolted by what his boss asked of him next. Now, his situation has raised the question of when it is appropriate for employers to demand that workers use their sick days and PTO (paid time off), or if it is ever appropriate for them to determine that. 

The man’s boss insisted that he use his PTO for being 10 minutes late or be written up. 

In a TikTok video that part of user Ben Askins' "Worst Boss Ever" series, Askins reads the ludicrous text exchange between the employee and his boss after the employee informed him that he would be a few minutes late to work one morning.

“Hey, Phil,” the employee wrote. “Going to be late for work today. Got a flat on the way. Should only be about ten minutes.” 



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While his boss did not chew out his employee for running late, he did make an unreasonable request. “OK, do you want to use PTO then? It would only be an hour of it,” he responded. 

Rightfully so, the employee denied the request, considering he would only be a few minutes late. “No just give me 10 minutes and I’ll be there,” he said. 

However, his boss refused to take no for an answer. “It is either PTO or a write-up.” 

When the employee asked why he needed to use an hour of his PTO since he would only be 10 minutes late, the boss argued it was because he was taking “unscheduled time off” by running late. “I’m doing you a favor by letting you use PTO and not sick time,” his boss replied. 

boss tells worker to use PTO for being 10 minutes late Photo: Ansaharju from Getty Images Pro / Canva Pro

“You don’t get to use the word ‘favor’ and then do all of this!” Askins pointed out. “That’s just unacceptable. Obviously, you’re not doing him a favor, you’re being incredibly unreasonable.” 

This was a fact that the employee also noted. “Doing me a favor would be understanding that I can’t control flat tires and letting me be 10 minutes late,” he explained to his boss. His boss remained unwavering. “Pick one please, I don’t have all day,” he said. 

The employee settled for using an hour of his PTO. However, he decided to make the most of it. 

When his boss said that he would see the employee in 10 minutes, the employee informed him that instead, he would be there in an hour so he could use his PTO. “If I am using an hour I’m taking an hour. See you at 7,” the employee said. 

The boss continued to make irrational arguments. “We are short-staffed and this is unprofessional, I will be issuing a write-up for abusing PTO,” he claimed. 

“Do you enjoy getting this tiny little whiff of power?” Askins wondered about the employee’s boss. “And you’re just gonna go out of your way [and do all of this] ... You’ve probably wasted 10 minutes just having this conversation!” 

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Other people were also appalled by the boss’ irrational behavior. 

“Are bosses not human?? The response should have been, ‘So sorry to hear that. Are you okay?’” one TikTok user commented. “He had a flat and would only be 10 minutes late, that deserves praise,” another user wrote. 

“If he’s using an hour of PTO then the boss is trying to make him work 50 minutes off the clock  — which is illegal,” another user pointed out. 

boss tells worker to use PTO for being 10 minutes late Photo: fizkes / Shutterstock 

Is it even legal for a boss to force an employee to use PTO hours for an unintentional late arrival to work?

While labor laws vary from state to state, the general consensus is that your boss should not dock an hour of PTO if an employee is only going to be 10 minutes late. While they may not be paid for the 10 minutes that they missed, their employer legally cannot cut back more than the time they were absent. 

An employee must be paid for the exact amount of time they entered and exited work for the day, and while being late is grounds for being written up, demoted, or terminated depending on the reason, they cannot be forced to take PTO hours they did not use. 

In order to curb excessive lateness, some employers may warn their workers that they may have to use some of their PTO that has not been touched yet. However, if an employee ever finds themselves in a situation like this, they have every right to file a report to HR. 

It is important to recognize your rights as an employee so that you do not find yourself working more hours than what you are being paid for. 

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Megan Quinn is a writer at YourTango who covers entertainment and news, self, love, and relationships.