Can terms of job elimination/severance be changed while on medical leave?

I was notified of job elimination in 07/10. The paperwork states that I must be an active staff member as of 4/31/11 (a non-existent date) to receive severance pay. A medical condition may warrant taking medical leave ASAP. Would being on medical leave make me inactive?

Asked on March 22, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You should consult with an employment attorney first, if at all possible. The short answer is, the law does not set forth who is an "active employee" and it also does not require any payment of severance whatsoever. Paying severance, and the terms under which it is paid, are voluntary for companies, which means they can set the terms and conditions. That said, once they set policies, they generally are bound by them (and also can't discriminate in certain ways, such as against employees with disabilities, or against a racial or religous group, a sex, or employees over 40). Therefore, the answer to your question depends on the policies your company has set, and an attorney can review all the relevant handbooks, correspondence, documents, past precedents (what, if anything, the company has done before in similar situations), etc. and help you understand your rights.

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