What distinguishes sick leave from administrative leave?

On Behalf of | Aug 13, 2022 | Employment Law -- Employer |

As someone who owns a small business, you should count on one or more of your employees not being available to work. This often happens because a worker becomes sick, injured or needs to care for a family member. However, you may have special reasons to relieve a worker of duty.

Knowing the difference between sick leave and administrative leave is important. You may end up in legal trouble for denying leave or not putting a worker on leave correctly. Chron describes the main difference between these two kinds of worker leave.

The definition of sick leave

Sick leave often happens because of a medical or care event in the life of your employee. Different examples include the following:

  • Your worker must attend a medical appointment
  • Your worker requires treatment or recovery time
  • Your worker is attending substance abuse treatment
  • A family member of your worker has died
  • Your worker is completing a family adoption

Federal laws like the Family and Medical Leave Act require you to offer unpaid leave to workers in some circumstances. Your employment agreement or collective bargaining contract can also offer sick leave terms for workers.

The definition of administrative leave

Giving a worker administrative leave means that you require an employee to take time off. Business owners often invoke administrative leave when a worker has potentially broken the law or has engaged in other malicious conduct. Removing a worker also allows the employer to protect sensitive materials from manipulation or destruction by the worker during an investigation.

Show caution with both kinds of leave

Employees want to feel that their employers are treating them fairly. A worker who feels forced to work when there is a personal medical issue at stake may claim a violation of his or her civil rights. Meanwhile, someone on administrative leave could feel defamed if an employer openly accuses the worker of a crime.

It is important to have solid procedures to spell out how workers can take sick leave and when you may put an employee on administrative leave. An experienced employment attorney can provide the necessary guidance to craft employee handbooks and contracts that address these sensitive issues.