Can my employer force me to take unpaid time off rather then meet my temporary medical restrictions?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can my employer force me to take unpaid time off rather then meet my temporary medical restrictions?

I am a salaried employee who was in a car accident a few weeks ago. My doctor
has put me on partial days working in my office and partial days working from
home so I can get the rest needed and work with my physical therapist. I’m
looking to do about 5-6 hours in my office and a few additional hours from home
that I can spread out. My employer informed me today that they would rather I
take the rest of the month off unpaid rather then having to pay me a full day to
work in the office for only a partial day. She informed me that they have an
‘unwritten company policy’ against letting employees work from home. I know this
is only to suit their needs as the person who held my position before me was
granted the right to work from home every day for over a year and this was not
for medical reasons. Understanding that as an exempt employee they can not pay
me partial days they are opting to just not pay me at all. Is this legal?

Asked on July 11, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Yes, it is completely legal. There is no law requiring employers to let employees work partially from home; an employer can insist that employees work full time in the office (or other worksite). If the employee will not, the employer could terminate them--or could, as here, let them take unpaid leave.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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