Is it illegal for an employer to keep a disabled employee on the payroll for a month knowing that they can’t go back to work?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Is it illegal for an employer to keep a disabled employee on the payroll for a month knowing that they can’t go back to work?

My father-in-law recently had 3 strokes and I am helping him try and find out about going to the

labor board. His workplace he worked at for 22 years has kept him on the payroll for a month, they won’t lay him off or release him, he is not able to go back to work, is it illegal for them to keep him on the payroll without paying him anything?

Asked on October 20, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

No, it is not illegal to keep him on the payroll. An employer does not need to terminate someone because they cannot work--they can keep them "on the payroll" as an employee during a period of disability. Often, this a  good thing: the employer is keeping a place for the employee to return to.
Unemployment is not the appropriate benefit when an employee cannot work due to disability; unemployment is for when you are terminated or laid off (other than "for cause"). You father-in-law should be applying for short-term disability and SSI.

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