Workers in Texas told to use vacation time for lost pay from storm: report

Dozens of employers in Texas have told workers who were unable to come in to work due to the extreme winter weather last week that they must either consider the lost days as vacation days or go without pay, The Daily Beast reports.

It said that the businesses that have given such directions include aerospace manufacturer Bell Textron Inc., BAE Systems and United Ag & Turf, which has 53 locations in the U.S.

“Employees who are unable to fully dedicate their time and attention to company business due to current conditions should use available PTO, vacation, or holiday flex time if they wish to be paid for today,” an email from a Bell executive obtained by The Daily Beast read.

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“Otherwise, employees who do not have any remaining PTO, vacation, or holiday flex time or do not wish to use their unused PTO, vacation, or holiday flex time will not be paid for today.”

The city of Dallas also said it had told employees to use personal leave for time lost from work.

“Nobody gets to ‘just decide’ anything; we have processes and layers of accountability for taxpayer dollars,” said Dallas city communications director  said. “So it becomes a question at the federal government level whether or not paying that worker emergency administrative pay was a necessary expense during the weather event.”

Cuellar added, “That has been the city’s policy for emergency weather-related pay for a decade."

Texas-based employment lawyer Austin Kaplan told The Daily Beast that this situation was the result of inadequate labor protections in the state.

“There’s no requirement in Texas that people pay any vacation time at all. There’s just no safety net, or anything like that,” Kaplan said. "In my estimation, the state that turned the power grid off ought to be the one paying."