I took today off, and in response my boss emailed my team with a chart and table displaying everyone's PTO taken for this month and their remaining PTO balances with the obvious motivation being to discourage additional PTO usage.

While it certainly isn't ethical, I would like to know if it's legal to disclose this information, especially as one might expect it to be confidential.

  • 5
    "with the obvious motivation being to discourage additional PTO usage" - You have no way of knowing that. And you have no reasonable expectation of confidentiality. I could easily see that being done in order to have employees coordinate time off among themselves. – Wesley Long May 2 '18 at 14:23
  • 5
    I'm confused as to why you think taking time off would be confidential. Surely your coworkers will notice in any event. If you are taking off for medical reasons, the medical details are confidential, that you have taken or plan to take time off is not. Especially if someone else has to cover your work while you are out. I have to coordinate with my boss, 6 project managers and two peers before I can even ask for a day off that isn't sick time because it affects the scheduled workload. – HLGEM May 2 '18 at 14:30
  • 1
    It's not that I think taking time off would be confidential; however, I would expect my coworkers and my own total number of PTO hours remaining to not be publicly disclosed – acuriouscat May 2 '18 at 14:33
  • 1
    This is unprofessional but not unethical. I know it's not the answer you are looking for but may I suggest that you ask your boss (in private) if there's any reason as to why he/she does this and the purpose of it? – Isaiah3015 May 2 '18 at 14:40
  • 2
    But you said that the e-mail contained everyones PTO. Either way, I don't think this is a battle you can win - lots of places share PTO plans publicly for ease. There's nothing inherently confidential about it. To be honest, my advice remains the same in these instances - don't seek to change your boss, rather you'd be better served finding somewhere that's a better fit. A personality clash with direct line management is just going to create a horrid atmosphere no matter what – Dan May 2 '18 at 14:50

The motivation isn't as obvious as you might think, in fact from the information you've provided I would have been very unlikely to reach that conclusion had you not mentioned it. There are plenty of other reasons why they might send such an e-mail - I've certainly worked in one place where reminders of everyone's remaining PTO balances were sent out quite frequently and upon talking to the HR person responsible for sending them their actual motivation was ensuring that people actually used their PTO throughout the year - their reasoning being that it was disruptive to the business to have multiple employees get near the end of the leave year and discover they had large amounts of PTO remaining and all taking it at once, or it could just be a simple reminder - one they think to send because they (presumably) have just updated the running totals because, well, someone just took time off. They might just be pre-empting the not uncommon queries from people who think "ooh acuriouscat just took a day off, I could do with a break - wonder how much I've got left?"

It is possible that your boss is trying to discourage it's usage but I'd be wary of leaping directly to that conclusion without some direct indicator that this is what is going on.

Regarding the legality of disclosing this information I'm no lawyer but I'm not aware of any restriction on the disclosure of this information in Florida (it's not considered "personal information" under Florida law) and to be honest I'm struggling to think of a reason why it would be or why you would expect it to be considered confidential after all taking time off isn't exactly a secret in the first place so pretty much anyone in the company can keep a running count of what people have taken and unless the company operates individualised PTO levels they will probably have a pretty good chance of working out how much you have left to take.

|improve this answer|||||

My guess is you already have a gut-feeling about how the company views taking time off.

During holiday seasons, many managers will try and coordinate future time off, so there is ample coverage. If that was your boss's goal, I think there are a few flaws and possible reasons to believe there is something else going on.

Calendar of the past month - There is no point in showing who took off three weeks ago. The calendar should be for future scheduling. People may want to coordinate vacations and see if they can switch with someone else.

Vacation Days Left - If you ask people to take personal time off in advance, you can have a future calendar, so knowing who has more time left, shouldn't be a critical piece of information. A day here or there shouldn't require a lot of advanced notice for coverage (There are some fields that are critical.). What type of day off (medical/personal v vacation) shouldn't matter. Either someone is missing and adjustments need to be made or they don't. Otherwise, it's really not much help. Everyone just needs to do their part in the planning. Indicating anything "medical" is really a bad practice and is getting into health privacy areas.

You're more likely to see other indicators that time off is being viewed negatively. People will make snarky comments when you come back. There are too many restrictions and a lengthy advanced notice periods that make it difficult. The boss will ask for ways to contact you when you're gone. You're expected to answer email and phone calls because they think it is an emergency.

When you feel uncomfortable asking for time off, you'll have your answer.

|improve this answer|||||

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.