Paid Time Off During COVID-19 Pandemic

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some employees are not being paid their earned paid-time-off (PTO). In North Carolina, PTO is generally earned and must be paid upon termination. Given the current circumstances during the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of employers are simply not paying. This is not acceptable.

Paid-time-off or personal-time-off, is a policy that companies have in place that will allow their employees to be paid while out of the office. It can be used for emergencies, vacations, holidays or personal days. Sometimes these are days that accrue throughout the year or the employer has a set amount.

According to the North Carolina Department of Labor, once a promise is made by an employer, then the employer must pay all promised wages to their employees. The promise includes wage benefits. Wage benefits are benefits such as, but not limited to, paid-time-off, sick leave, holiday pay and vacation pay.

Importantly, the reduction of an employee’s wages or other compensation cannot have retroactive application. Wages or benefits cannot be reduced until after notification has been properly given to the employee pursuant to the NCWHA. If an employer fails to pay promised wages, employees are eligible for liquidated damages (twice the amount of unpaid wages).

If you or someone you know has been impacted by an employer refusing to pay promised wages, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, Maginnis Law’s employee rights attorneys are here to help you.

Our firm’s employee rights attorneys have experience representing employees like you in employment law matters. You can reach our firm’s employee rights attorneys at 919.526.0450, by email at, or through our contact page.