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Administrative Leave Pending Investigation

Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors.

Last updated 11/5/2019

Most workers depend on their job to provide for themselves, so being asked by an employer to not come into work is cause for concern, even if you get to keep your pay and benefits. This is the situation in which employees who have been placed on administrative leave find themselves and it can be unnerving, especially if your employer is conducting an investigation.

For employers, investigating can be easier if the employee under investigation is not present in the workplace while the investigation is underway. But if you have been put on paid administrative leave, you may wonder how your employer can legally keep you from working and what your options are.

Is Paid Administrative Leave Legal?

Unless paid administrative leave is being used as a form of workplace retaliation, employers can legally put their employees on paid administrative leave while the employer conducts an investigation regarding their employee's behavior. An employer may want their employee to stay away from the workplace for several reasons. Some common reasons include:

  • The employer believes the employee is a threat to the safety of their coworkers or the public
  • The employer believes the investigation they are conducting would benefit from their employee's absence

Do Employees Have Any Options?

Unfortunately for employees, paid administrative leave is not appeal-able, so you may not have many options if you have been placed on administrative leave. Even so, what options are available to you generally depends on whether you work for a private or public entity.

Private vs. Government Employers

Unless they have an established policy or are breaking a state or federal employment law, private employees can freely place their employees on paid administrative leave. Government agencies, however, operate under different constraints.

Many state and federal agencies have regulations that prevent them from placing an employee on paid administrative leave without approval from a superior source, or from placing employees on leave for more than a certain time period. However, different states and agencies have different policies, so it is worth researching your agency's policies.

Resources for Employees

​Although state and federal law give employers broad powers when it comes to placing their employees on paid administrative leave, there are limitations to what employers can do.

If you believe you have been placed on paid administrative leave as retaliation for protected activities or that your employer's decision may have been illegal, you may want to consider seeking assistance from a legal professional experienced in labor disputes.

Next Steps

Contact a qualified employment attorney to make sure your rights are protected.

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