Thursday Troubleshooter: Some dental staff given vacation while others denied

This dental hygienist doesn't feel like it's fair, or even legal, for some team members to receive paid vacation while others do not.

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QUESTION: I work in an office where the assistants and front office get some paid time off, but the hygienists do not get any PTO. Someone told me this is illegal, but my bosses claim that it's legal. Is this way of treating employees legal or not?

ANSWER FROM REBECCA BOARTFIELD, HR expert at Bent Ericksen & Associates:
When it comes to paid time off, this is a discretionary benefit. Employers are not required to provide PTO. Therefore, an employer has absolute discretion in determining who receives those benefits. If an employer wants to mandate that PTO is for everyone except hygienists, he or she can absolutely do that.

You don't mention where you're located. If you are located in a state, city, or county that mandates paid sick leave, then your employer would have to provide either sick leave or PTO to everyone according to the law in your area. Currently, the existing sick leave laws do not allow for an employer to exclude hygienists in particular, thus it would be illegal to do so. Therefore, an employer must provide PTO or sick leave to hygienists as well in order to be compliant with those laws.

Otherwise, if you do not have a sick leave mandate in your area, your employer can exclude you from the PTO benefit.

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