“If an employee returns from a personal leave, and turns down a comparable position offered to her, is she entitled to anything else?”

Question: If an employee was given leave due to a domestic violence issue, and the employer offered her a comparable position when wanting to return to work, and the employee turns it down, does the employer have any other obligation toward this employee?

Terri Ann
Spokane, Washington

Answer: Terri Ann, if you are referring to an employee’s rights after taking a leave of absence under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (also called “FMLA”), then under that law the returning employee is not entitled to anything other than her job back, or a comparable one.

In that circumstance, if the returning employee does not accept the comparable position, then she has effectively resigned from employment, and may not even be eligible for unemployment benefits.

However, the employee might be entitled to further benefits or rights from a variety of different sources, including (a) under the employer’s personnel policies or practices, (b) under the law of the employee’s city or state, (c) by way of any promise or assurance that the employer might have made to the employee before she took a leave of absence, and (d) accrued vacation time, pension, 401k contribution or other benefits that accrued interests while she was on her leave of absence.

A suggestion: Don’t be shy or hesitant to ask for other benefits or payments, even if you may not be entitled to them. Employers often respond in a positive, admirable fashion to employees who have served them for years, but who now are facing difficulties due to no fault of their own.

Hope that helps. My best to you.

       Best, Al Sklover    

© 2010 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.