Ohio Has No PTO Laws (Except for State Employees)

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Employers in Ohio are not required to offer any type of PTO or sick leave to their employees.

The employees with the only PTO protections in Ohio are state employees. Most of the state regulations you find will be for them. By state employee, I mean an employee that works for the state government.

A state employee with 25 years of service gets 239.2 hours of vacation per year, that’s basically 6 weeks vacation. EVERY year.

Every other employee in Ohio gets… nothing.

Ohio PTO Laws for State Employees

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.

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.

How PTO Accrues for State Employees in Ohio

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. 

State employees eligible for paid vacation time accrue hours biweekly based on the amount of time they’ve worked at their company:

  • 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. 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.

Ohio PTO Rollovers for 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. 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 for State Employees

PTO payouts to state employees 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.

Are the Ohio PTO Laws Good Enough?

Hahaha, absolutely not.

It’s tragic that the Ohio state legislature took the time to come up with an extremely detailed PTO policy for state employees while completely neglecting… everyone else in the state.

I’m not expecting some grand PTO policy, companies should have flexibility in how far they want to take things. But there should be a bare minimum sick leave regulation of some kind.

Ohio has a lot of work to do here.

Other Ohio Paid Leave Laws and Employer Responsibilities to Note

If you don’t employ permanent state employees, you’re not required to provide ANY type of paid leave to employees.

There are a few types of unpaid leave that you still need to provide though:

  • Jury duty: Employers cannot attempt to convince an employee to avoid jury duty or threaten the employee if they proceed with jury duty. 
  • Election day: Employers can’t retaliate against an employee for exercising their right to vote, even if the employee misses some work to do so.
  • Parental leave: Employers with 4 or more employees must grant a “reasonable amount” of unpaid leave for a new child. Definitely talk to an employment attorney in Ohio to clarify this.

Don’t forget the federal 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.

Regardless of what’s required in any given state, I’m an advocate for a generous PTO policy. If you’re an employer in Ohio, consider offering paid time off that, at a minimum, covers sick time and vacation days.

The Official Resources for Ohio PTO Laws and Leave

Ohio’s documentation is particularly bad compared to other states. I haven’t found much other than the regulations themselves. And boy oh boy does reading state regulations fill my heart with boundless joy (I’m joking, I’d rather stub my toe for giggles). So this is the best I’ve got:

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