Q: We have a situation where management wants to force an employee on leave without pay because he cannot perform any duties as a result of a stroke. The employee has exhausted all accrued leave, but refuses to request leave without pay because he is two months short of completing 18 months of service so that he can apply for disability retirement. Do you know of any situation when management can force leave without pay upon an employee? We don’t think so, but we want to show the customer in writing. We have recommended that they place the employee on administrative leave. Is this a viable (or legal) option?
A: The first thing you need to understand is that there are no laws or regulations that define administrative leave. Therefore, the responsibility lies with agencies, which usually have their own rules in place. However, I have reviewed Title II, Leave, Civilian Law Manual, in which the Government Accountability Office has set case law that governs both administrative leave and leave without pay. I could find no evidence that the granting of administrative leave would be appropriate in this situation. On the other hand, it is clearly appropriate to put such an employee on leave without pay if he is unable to report to work because of illness. To see for yourself, go to http://www.gao.gov/special.pubs/og96006.txt and scroll down to Chapter 5, Other Leave Provisions, and review A. Administrative Leave and F. Leave Without Pay.