Keeping an Employee Job Open

Submission Date:


How long can an association library (or other private museum or archive) hold open a job while an employee is out on disability due to a work-related injury?


Before answering this question, I have one over-arching comment: the member who sent this inquiry was wise to submit the question when they did; it is not the type of question to be handled without the input of a pro.[1]

Why is that?  This type of situation is, of course, riddled with legal pitfalls.  ADA, FMLA, paid sick leave law, workers' comp law, OSHA, union contract (if relevant), NY Civil Rights law, personal injury law, employee manual compliance...the list of legal considerations is lengthy.

But just as, if not more critical--and often buried in all the legal--is the fact that a place that "fires" a worker after they were injured in the line of duty risks seeming...heartless.  Mean.  Cruel...or at least, unfeeling.

Fortunately, focusing on the human sides of this type of issue (how is the employee doing?  Are they getting everything they need from the library's comp carrier?  Might their doctor clear them for light duty? How has the injury impacted their family? How are co-workers handling the loss of their co-worker's contributions?) will actually build the best framework for taking care of all the details that are "legal."

How can that happen?  With the pro helping them do things like: drafting a leave letter, developing an interim staffing plan, and planning for the employee's return to work, the Board has time to focus on the human factors.

So, how long can a library hold open a job while an employee is out on disability due to a work-related injury?  There are too many factors to give a numerical answer.  This is one where a library, museum, archive, historical society, etc. should seek a professional[2] to get a custom response--enabling leadership to focus their energies on concern for the employee, the workforce, the community, and the library.

[1] The "pro" I refer to does not have to be an attorney.  They can be an experienced HR professional or administrator. 

[2] This is one where your System or your regional council's "Ask the HR Expert" service can be an invaluable resource.


ADA, Employee Rights, Employment, Workers Comp, Disability