Administrative Leave: Definition & Process

Instructor: Sean Kennedy

Sean has 8 years experience as a supervisor and has an MBA with a concentration in marketing.

Administrative leave is different depending on the company you work for. In this lesson, we will discuss how long the investigation process lasts, how much you get paid, and how it will affect you.

Administrative Leave Definition

Larry is a second year police officer who just shot a thief while on the job. The situation was tense, and he suffered emotional distress. What do you think Larry's boss will do? Well, a likely action would be to give him mandatory time off to investigate the situation and to allow him to get the help he needs. He will receive his full pay and benefits because he is not necessarily guilty of any wrongdoing.

This is just one example of administrative leave, when a worker is put on a temporary, usually paid, suspension by an employer. Reasons for temporary suspension are:

  • an emergency
  • an internal investigation for employee misconduct
  • education
  • military leave
  • to protect sensitive information

For example, if something traumatic occurred in the workplace, like a hostage situation or a fire, this could cause someone to need time off work because of the emotional distress. Or perhaps an internal crime occurred, and the business wants anyone involved to be put on temporary leave to protect sensitive information about the investigation. Or maybe there's a more positive reason, maybe an employee needs to take college courses for their job, or serve in the military. All of these could leave to administrative leave.

How Long Can It Last?

Administrative leave has no set amount of time. It can last a few days, weeks, or a few months depending on the situation.

In the case of a company investigating an employee, the worker will be required to cooperate fully. They should remain home during work hours so that they can be available to come in and answer questions. The employee must also be ready to return to work on short notice when everything is cleared up.

Imagine you are one of two accountants at work. Your company has discovered that someone has been stealing money. The company puts you and the other accountant on administrative leave to look into the situation. It is going to take a few weeks to get all the information they need. One day, they call you in to question you, so you think you will not get called in again. You decide to take a little vacation. This is unacceptable however, as they may need to call you in again or to come back to work.

How Much Do You Get Paid?

Usually, someone who is on administrative leave will receive their full pay, health insurance, and other benefits. However, the law does not require a person be paid when they are not working, therefore, depending on the company's policies, an employee could receive no pay. Usually though, especially when there is an investigation, businesses pay the person on leave as a sign of good faith, as there is not yet proof of their being guilty.

Administrative leave is not a punishment or disciplinary action, and it shouldn't damage the employee's record. Only if they are found guilty will those actions be considered.

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