The New Ohio PTO Laws and What’s Required

Lars Lofgren Avatar
Disclosure: Our content is reader-supported, which means we earn commissions from links on HR Advice. Commissions do not affect our editorial evaluations or opinions.

In April 2023, new Ohio PTO laws went into effect for eligible full-time, permanent state employees to be paid a specific amount of vacation time based on their length of service. 

These laws are only targeted toward employers who employ these eligible state employees and are specifically exempt from collective bargaining. They do not apply to other employers. Other companies not falling under these laws do not currently need to pay their workers paid time off (PTO), including vacation pay, sick time, or other forms of leave.

Still, it’s important to keep an eye on these new Ohio PTO laws, as it’s possible that this could be the start of making mandatory PTO more widely applicable to other employees. 

And, as I frequently mention, offering PTO to employees even when it’s not required is usually the best strategy for most businesses. Understanding what’s required by law for certain employees can guide you toward creating a fair paid leave policy for your company.

Who Is Subject to Ohio PTO Laws?

You’ll find the new Ohio PTO laws for state employees in the Ohio Revised Code, Title 1, Chapter 124, Section 124.134. Ohio paid leave is currently only required for eligible state employees, and it covers vacation time only. Sick time and other forms of paid time off are not required by law.

The rule breaks down what state employees are entitled to receive paid vacation time in Ohio:

Any employee falling under these definitions is eligible for mandatory vacation pay in Ohio based on the length of time they’ve worked for their employer. 

Of note, there are some exceptions regarding unused paid vacation leave converting to cash at the employee’s will. While some state employees are eligible for this benefit, others aren’t. Additionally, this portion of the law doesn’t go into effect until December 2023. I’ll dig deeper into this in the sections below.

What Else to Know About Ohio PTO Laws

Ohio PTO laws for state employees work a bit differently than other state PTO laws, which typically accrue at a rate per number of hours worked. In Ohio, the length of time an employee has worked an eligible state job is the deciding factor of how much PTO they can earn. 

Because there are several nuances to Ohio PTO laws, I’m breaking them down by accrual, rollover, and payout requirements to drill down the granular details. 

Ohio PTO Accrual

In Ohio, state employees eligible for paid vacation time accrue hours based on the amount of time they’ve worked at their company. Ohio separates accruals into the following lengths of time and accrual rates:

  • 3.1 hours: Less than four years
  • 4.6 hours: More than four but less than nine years
  • 6.2 hours: At least nine years but less than 14 years
  • 6.9 hours: At least 14 years but less than 19 years
  • 7.7 hours: A minimum of 19 years but less than 24 years
  • 9.2 hours: 24 years or more

Every employee that falls under this law earns their hours biweekly. So, for example, an employee with two years of service earns 3.1 hours of paid vacation time every two weeks. Meanwhile, an employee with 25 years of service gets 9.2 hours biweekly.

What do years of service entail? According to section 9.44, a state government employee’s service can count with previous eligible jobs for a state subdivision. Therefore, their service does not have to be continuous with the same agency or subdivision.

There are exceptions for township and municipal workers, however. These workers can only have their prior experience counted when working for the same township or municipality if they were first employed on or after July 5, 1987.

For example, if John works for one township for five years and then gets a job in another township for eight years, his first five years do not count toward his PTO accrual. Instead, John gets 4.6 hours of PTO biweekly, or the amount to which he’s entitled for eight years of service in that township.

Ohio PTO Rollover

Ohio specifies a few points about rolling over unused vacation time from one year to the next for eligible state employees.

First, employees may only accrue up to three years’ worth of vacation time. Say Jane does not use her paid vacation for two years. She can take her unused time into the third year, but she won’t be able to accrue any more vacation time past that third year. Additionally, Jane risks losing her unused vacation time after this three-year mark.

Second, employees who are close to reaching their three-year accrual cap and their request to use their vacation was denied can have up to 80 hours of vacation time paid, even though it wasn’t used. So, if Jane requested to use 40 hours of vacation that wasn’t approved, her employer may need to pay her for those 40 hours, which will then be deducted from her balance of accrued time.

This only happens when an employee has reached or will soon reach the maximum amount of accrual for the three-year period of unused vacation time.

Finally, employees may be able to cash in their PTO rather than take time off if they choose. This rule isn’t in effect until December 2023, and only employees with at least 100 hours of accrued vacation time by the last day of November’s first pay period can convert some of their hours to cash.

Employees with at least 100 hours can convert up to 40 hours, while employees with at least 200 hours can convert up to 80 of their hours into cash. Additionally, an employee can do this each year for which they’re eligible.

Some state employees, including those in the legislative service commission or supreme court, are not allowed to cash in their unused paid vacation time.

Ohio PTO Payout Requirements

As an employer in Ohio with eligible state employees, it’s important to understand your responsibilities regarding vacation time payouts. There are a few crucial points to remember here.

Most importantly, PTO payouts in Ohio get reimbursed with full pay. In other words, if John earns a salary that’s the equivalent of $30 per hour, John must get paid $30 per hour of vacation time used. 

For employees cashing out some of their PTO hours, employers are required to pay those cashed-out hours in the first December paycheck of that same year. Employees are entitled to getting paid the same base rate for each hour of vacation time.

If an employee separates from the company, they’re also required to get paid the amount of vacation they have accrued up to that point. However, this only applies to employees who have at least 12 full months of eligible state government service at the time of separation.

Other Ohio Paid Leave Laws and Employer Responsibilities to Note

If you’re an Ohio employer that doesn’t fall under the guidance of Ohio PTO laws, you aren’t required to pay your employees for sick time, vacation, or other forms of leave. In other words, if you don’t employ permanent state employees, Ohio PTO laws likely do not apply to you.

However, Ohio employers have other employee-related responsibilities they should keep in mind. 

For example, employers do not have to pay an employee when that worker must report for jury duty. However, employers cannot attempt to convince an employee to avoid jury duty that they’re required to commit to or threaten the employee if they proceed with jury duty that requires them to take time off. 

Similarly, employers are not required by Ohio law to pay their employees who vote on election day. Still, the employer can’t retaliate against an employee for exercising their right to vote, even if the employee misses some work to do so.

Ohio employers must also remember that although the state doesn’t require paid time off for all employees, most employers still need to comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This law allows employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for themselves after the birth or adoption of a child or to care for another family member. 

In some cases, up to 26 weeks of unpaid FMLA coverage is allowed.

If you’ve read some of my other blog posts, you know I’m an advocate for a generous PTO policy, regardless of what federal and state laws say. If you’re an employer in Ohio, consider offering paid time off that, at minimum, covers the basics, like sick time and vacation days. 

If you have state employees covered by Ohio PTO laws for vacation, be sure to add this time into your PTO policy, whether you offer a single PTO bucket or separate policies for each type of PTO you provide.

Build and Grow right from your Inbox

Scroll to Top