December 7, 2016

Salary and Benefits while on FMLA

Weekly HR News – FMLA

Salary and Benefits while on FMLA

In many cases, cities choose to provide unpaid leave while an employee is on FMLA, but may require that an employee use accrued paid leave (i.e. vacation or sick leave) during FMLA leave.  However the city decides to handle, the information must be included within the employee handbook. 

While on FMLA the employer must maintain the employee’s group health insurance at the same level they would if the employee were not on FMLA.  For example, if the employer pays 100% of the employee plan, the employer would continue to do this during leave.  If the employee pays a portion of their health insurance premium, the employee must continue to pay their portion while on leave.  The employer has the option to pay the entire amount during the employee’s absence and recover the employee’s portion when the employee returns to work.  The same is true, if the employer pays 100% of the family plan, the employer would continue to pay 100% of the family plan while the employee is on leave.  (29 C.F.R. § 825.209)

If the employee is responsible for any portion of their premium and fails to pay while out on leave, the employer’s obligation to maintain health insurance will cease once the premium is more than 30 days late.  However, once the employee is reinstated to work they must be restored to the coverage they would have had if leave had not been taken and the payments had not been missed. 

Other benefits provided by the employer, such as holiday pay, seniority and paid leave, are maintained as outlined in the employee handbook.  If not specified under FMLA in the handbook, they will or will not accrue depending on how other types of unpaid leave are handled.  For other benefits, such as elected life insurance coverage, the employer and the employee may make arrangements to continue these benefits during periods of unpaid FMLA leave. As with the group health insurance, an employer may elect to continue such benefits to ensure that the employee will be eligible to be restored to the same benefits upon returning to work. At the conclusion of the leave, the employer may recover only the employee's share of premiums it paid to maintain other "non-health" benefits during unpaid FMLA leave.

For additional questions regarding FMLA or other personnel related matters, contact Andrea Shindlebower Main, personnel services specialist.