Expert says look out for this PTO trick that’s actually your boss stealing money from your paycheck

@attorneyryan/TikTok Dzmitry/Adobe Stock (Licensed)

‘Happens all the time with night shift’: Expert says look out for this PTO trick that’s actually your boss stealing money from your paycheck

"Who are y'all working for??"


Tangie Mitchell


Posted on May 5, 2024   Updated on May 5, 2024, 10:43 am CDT

A labor attorney is warning people about a method some employers use to steal their workers’ full PTO wages.

In a TikTok with over 593,000 views, lawyer and content creator Attorney Ryan (@attorneyryan) shares two ways employers commit wage theft by stealing PTO money from their workers, and advises employees to be on the lookout.

“This is a sneaky way employers steal from you,” Ryan begins, “But I’m a labor lawyer, I’m gonna help you out so you don’t lose hundreds, or maybe thousands of dollars.”

How you lose PTO to your job

Ryan explains the first way workers lose money to sneaky employers: Cashing out their PTO at a lower rate than their working one. 

“When you accrue paid time off at an employer, there is sometimes a cash value of that PTO. It’s typically your regular rate of pay,” he says. “If you go to cash out that PTO, the employer will give it to you at a different, lower rate than your regular rate of pay.”

The second way employees have their money stolen from them comes to light when actually using their PTO and not getting paid at their working rate. “Let’s say you take the PTO, but you find that your pay was not the same. They paid you less than what you would have made if you had worked,” Ryan explains.“Both of those situations, the employer is not honoring the true value of your paid time off.”

“It seems small but this sort of thing adds up. If you think it’s happening, talk to a labor lawyer. These kinds of things get tricky, but it’s still theft. It’s your money,” Ryan advises as the video ends.

In the comments, users shared their own PTO situations with their employers, with some questioning the fairness of their company’s policies.

One common grievance among commenters were policies around shift differentials, which Forbes defines as “the amount a staff member gets paid for working a shift that is outside of the normal 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. workday.” Workers receive a “bump in pay” for working what could be a less desirable shift. However, viewers expressed frustration with the fact that their respective companies don’t offer shift differentials for PTO.

“Happens all the time with night shift. We earn our PTO on nights while being paid a shift differential but when you use that PTO, you do not receive the shift differential,” one user shared. 

Another viewer responded, writing, “None of the hospitals I have worked at paid the shift differential either. It can really add up when you take a week-long vacation.”

Others criticized unlimited PTO, a system in which the number of days off employees receive is not capped. While ultimate work flexibility can sound promising, some users believe unlimited PTO benefits companies more than their employees.

“[Employers] also steal by giving you unlimited PTO. You don’t accrue PTO so you don’t get to cash out,” one such user wrote. Another user responded, “Unlimited PTO can be great IF the company adheres to the spirit of unlimited PTO.”

According to Indeed, the ability to stockpile unused days under a traditional PTO policy with rollover can result in a nice severance package when an employee leaves a company. Under unlimited PTO, however, companies avoid the liability of having to pay out their workers for unused days. Paired with other possible cons of unlimited PTO—employees being hesitant to take days off for fear of sending the wrong message to their employers, unpredictable availability of co-workers, etc.—the glamor of unlimited PTO can start to lose its luster.

@attorneyryan Lets talk a out a VERY SNEAKY form of wage theft. I call it the “PTO Trick.” . Note thay NOT ALL states allow you to cash out PTO. In that situation, the PTO shoild be paid (when you use it) at yiur regular rate. . #vacations #vacationmode #outofoffice #remotework ♬ original sound – Attorney Ryan

Other users seemed quite satisfied with their employers and their PTO policies, with one user writing, “My company pays me exactly what my regular paycheck would be if I cashout. Who are y’all working for???”

The Daily Dot has reached out to Attorney Ryan via email for more information.

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*First Published: May 5, 2024, 3:00 pm CDT